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3 ways to speak up at work about the climate crisis

Speaking up at work about the climate crisis can be quite a challenge for many of us. While we can make changes to our own lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint, it can seem quite difficult to make those same changes in the workplace.  However, whether you’re a worker or a manager, speaking up at work can be a powerful action and is more achievable than you might think.

This is Week 15 of our #CountdowntoCOP campaign, encouraging people to sign up for one or more of the 16 Count Us In steps.  We will have a guest blog each week until November’s UK-hosted COP, focusing on one of these 16 steps.

This week, Dan Fletcher shows us how achievable it is to “Speak Up At Work” as part of Count Us In. Dan is a trustee of Sustainable St Albans and is employed in the business services sector.

1. Informal conversation is a powerful way to speak up at work

Informal conversations at work can be highly meaningful. Your colleagues know you and will see the choices that you make, if you let them. You don’t need to be preachy about what you do. You just need to do it and be matter of fact about what you’re doing. Before long, it is inevitable that a colleague will ask you why. Sharing your reasons and how easy it can be is immensely powerful. It can also multiply the impact of your own climate actions.

Explain climate friendly choices you’ve made when asked

This year for holidays I’ve mainly travelled by train across the UK rather than drive. When I go out for meals with colleagues I don’t eat meat and am often plant-based in my diet. If I bring lunch to work, I’ll wrap it in beeswax instead of plastic or clingfilm. I cycle to my office in St Albans or to the station if I’m going into our London base, rather than drive. All of these things have sparked conversations about why I have made these choices. 

Encourage knowledge sharing

Talking informally creates a context for others to share their sustainability steps and tips, and helps to build community around sustainable living. Subjects from carbon-offsetting flights to supermarket plastic, green investment to food miles, can all take place in the office. Speak up about these subjects at work and share your knowledge. From there, it’s a small step to mention Count Us In and to invite colleagues to start taking their own Count Us In steps too. 

“Talking informally creates a context for others to share their sustainability steps and tips.”

Hold a Climate Conversation with colleagues

If a few colleagues are interested, why not organise a Climate Conversation held across a couple of lunch times? You just need a meeting room, a computer, an internet connection and a handful of colleagues who are interested to know what action they can take to help the climate crisis. Find out more about the free, self-serve Climate Conversation materials by visiting Sustainable St Albans’ Climate Conversations webpage.

Chatting at work
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2. Join a Green Team to speak up at work

The concept of ‘Green teams’ or ‘Eco teams” at work is becoming more common, especially for workplaces that rely on cohorts of Generation Zers each year. We have a team at my work, and this becomes a simple route to influencing the direction of our work’s environmental policies. 

Start a Green team

If you don’t have a Green team at work, then why not start one? It can often be done by simply finding one or two like-minded people and writing to your CEO or even your manager with a proposal of what you could do and how it might work. Most businesses would value that kind of initiative. Many green initiatives, such as switching off monitors and lights at night, also save the company money.

Hold a Climate Conversation to get going

If your Green team needs a focus to get started, why not organise a Climate Conversation as mentioned above? Then use the Count Us In steps as your framework to help plan your actions.

“If your Green team needs a focus to get started, why not organise a Climate Conversation?”

office meeting - green team
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

3. Speak up at work about ESG

Lastly, it is worth thinking about the ESG movement. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. It is similar to concepts such as Planet – People – Purpose. It is a global movement that started as a set of criteria for investing and it helps evaluate a companies corporate behaviour and future performance. 

ESG covers carbon footprints and more

ESG is about more than companies reducing their carbon footprints. It includes issues around how a company adds value to the communities where it exists. It also takes seriously issues around how it is governed – how inclusive and diverse it is, how open its decision-making is and how it complies with regulation. ESG resonates with issues of carbon justice and the importance of being a part of the community. 

You can help your workplace by speaking up at work about ESG and the business case for taking it seriously. Businesses that are not aware of ESG will be the ones that won’t thrive in the future. This may be a great opportunity to get involved and help your company to start its sustainability journey in the right direction. 

“Businesses that are not aware of ESG will be the ones that won’t thrive in the future.”

Chatting through ESG at work
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Speaking up at work really makes a difference

Speaking up at work may seem challenging, but it is a simple way for you to have a wide and deep impact on the climate crisis. If you’ve reduced your food waste, have changed to a green energy tariff, jumped off the fast fashion bandwagon and minimised your transport emissions, speaking up at work is a great way to multiply your own contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions. From informal conversations through to your work Green team or ESG project, Speaking Up at Work really is a Step worth taking.

“Speaking up at work is a great way to multiply your own contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions.”

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

It’s easy to join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

Join in today and use Dan’s advice to help you choose the “Speak Up at Work” Step as your pledge.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We will have a blog every Sunday until the international climate talks in November, COP26. Each blog will focus on one of the 16 steps. Look out for next week’s blog “Green Your Money” by Simon Grover.

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