I hope everyone who reads this blog cares about the state of our planet. But, I also know sustainable options are not always the easiest or most accessible. Still, how you approach sustainability at home - whether it be recycling or turning the lights off before leaving a room - is just as important as what you do when you step in or log into the office.
Our marketing and public relations (PR) agency has always been remote-first, so we’re not surprised working from home has been positive for many people and the planet alike. It alters the dynamic of how we approach workplace sustainability (less focus on emissions from commuting, no need to remember a reusable travel mug) and creates a wonderful opportunity to creatively reduce our carbon footprint and form sustainable workplace habits.
In some ways, doing so can help sustain a business, too.
A different generation
Generation Z, or those born after 1997 (like me), are heading out into the real world. Part of the job search is finding a company with values that are compatible with your own. So, what does Gen Z value? Sustainability and social awareness - arguably more than any previous generation.
Many of us are looking to engage with companies that care about the world; we feel a commitment to sustainability and a socially conscious voice is important. A company that takes its employee’s values and opinions into account, such as prioritizing social justice and sustainability, is the type of company Gen Z is looking for.
You may be thinking, “Why should my company cater to the needs and values of Gen Z - what do they bring to the table?” The most obvious answer may be technology-related. We grew up with mobile devices in our hands, the internet being our lifeblood. This technology familiarity and fearlessness can bring much-needed skills into the workplace while helping companies better meet talent shortages.
And, of course, what better way to implement an environmentally-friendly paperless system than to hire tech-savvy employees?
Making the change
We know what the incoming workforce is looking for and that ignoring the climate problem won’t benefit any of us, regardless of generation. So, how do you take this information, get the wheels turning, and show that your company walks the talk? It starts with the little changes for both individuals and companies. Here are a few examples to help get things moving in the right direction:
Conserve More, Consume Less: Working remotely doesn’t change the need for resources. For instance, even a person in a home office still needs paper every now and then. By setting printers to automatically print double-sided and grayscale - or simply reducing how much you print - you’re already having an impact. By making it a company standard, your impact grows exponentially with each employee.
Create Change: Organizing a sustainability orientation or writing up a policy can help employees gain awareness and work towards company goals. To get started, check out free resources like the Environmental Paper Network (EPN) and their Paper Calculator. This enables companies to calculate their environmental impact in order to make smarter decisions moving forward.
Choose Carefully: Virtual meetings and conferences soared amidst the pandemic. Not only did this benefit those who prefer to work in their sweatpants, but it also cut down on fuel consumption - the reduction in commuting and business flights alone benefited the environment immensely. As people return to the road and airports, encouraging public transportation and choosing direct flights can help.
Talk it Up
In terms of the marketing and PR side of this movement, honesty is the best policy. Once you’ve put in the work to make your company more eco-friendly, let your audience know - just make sure practices have actually been implemented because you don’t want to be accused of “greenwashing.” Raising awareness about your initiatives will not only be noticed by potential Gen Z employees, customers are looking to support these efforts as well.
Forbes stated in an article entitled Empowered Consumers Call For Sustainability Transformation that 32% of online consumers in the US prioritize supporting companies that are actively reducing their negative environmental impact. With social media, in particular, Gen Z employees familiar with the platforms will be able to help refresh and reinvent your brand.
This will, in turn, generate even more attention from young and old targets alike, as well as companies that are also looking for such alignment.
Making a difference
The facts can be a little intimidating. According to The Carbon Majors Database, only 100 companies are responsible for 70% of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Sometimes, all-too-common stats like that can make you feel like your actions are too small and not worth the effort - that no single person or business can make a dent.
If every person and company had that mindset, nothing would change. After all, we’re talking about a collective effort, and we are all in this together. Further, when someone takes action, or when a company with influence does, others take notice and follow suit. Implementing a sustainability plan within your company may be what it takes to attract that new generation of workers to your doorstep.
It's not about being perfect, none of us are, and companies are no exception. This is about taking those steps when you can to make a real difference. And that, in turn, can make all the difference for your company.
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