How to make your company a climate leader
Last Friday I had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Weihl who has been a true pioneer in the corporate sustainability world, spearheading the efforts at Google and Facebook since 2006.
In 2020 Bill started a new organization called Climate Voice which is on a mission “to mobilize the voice of the workforce to urge companies to go “all in” on climate, both in business practices and policy advocacy.”
Climate Voice is working to educate and activate students and employees everywhere because they have the power to make their companies move faster and start using their massive influence – especially in the public policy realm – for climate action.
Bill is super smart on this stuff so I highly encourage you to watch the video below or listen to our conversation on the podcast if you want to learn more. And for a deeper dive, I’d recommend checking out Climate Voice’s resources page – it’s a goldmine!
0 – 5:32 Intro & Bill’s climate journey.
5:32 Answering the “What can I do?” question & why we need companies to use their influence for strong climate policies.
18:45 Employees have the power to push companies to speak up on public policy. There is recent precedent with LGBTQ rights.
20:30 Who are the most obstructive trade associations?
23:20 Fossil fuel lobby outspending climate action groups 10 to 1.
24:50 Other ways companies can influence public policy.
27:26 The big 5 in tech need to step up & what we want companies to say.
31:30 Corporate hypocrisy and complicity vs. what they can do instead.
35:40 What can employees do? Advice for starting to having these conversations and begin organizing internally.
42:28 The constructive case employees can make for climate action.
46:10 What does ClimateVoice do with signatures and how do you help employees?
50:00 A very small amount of employees can make a big difference.
59:15 Bill’s call to action.
Some key takeaways:
- Pretty much every policy and investment decision has climate implications. So corporate decision-making needs to start looking at everything through a climate lens.
- Just like more and more individuals are doing, corporations need to stop focusing only on their own emissions and start looking at the different ways they can help accelerate solutions at a systemic level using every lever of influence they have. Because when it comes to climate, winning too slowly is the same as losing.
- Meaningful climate policy has been delayed by special interests for decades.
- There’s 10x more money spent against climate action than for it.
- To overcome the entrenched power of the fossil fuel industry and its allies, we need other corporations to flex their advocacy muscles for just, science-based climate policies at every level of government where they operate or have influence.
- In addition to lobbying “like they mean it”, corporations should make sure their trade associations are aligned with them on climate, as well as their campaign contributions.
- Current and future employees have tons of influence.
- There’s recent precedent for a very small number of employees succeeding in getting their companies to advocate for important issues.
Steps employees can take to step up
You should really go to Climate Voice and/or listen to our full conversation for all the details, but here are the steps I came away with:
- Talk with your co-workers about climate, why it matters to you, and what your company is and isn’t doing so far.
- Sign the ClimateVoice pledge to help activate companies to go all-in on climate. And sign their latest petition urging the big 5 tech companies (whether you work there or not) to lobby for climate policy!
- Spread the word! Share this idea and pledge with your co-workers.
- Find a core group of people who are willing to speak up internally.
- Find (constructive) ways to bring it up with executives and decision-makers.
“It’s important to talk about what kind of a problem the planetary crisis is. And its fundamental nature (that we don’t like to talk about for a whole lot of different reasons) is that it is a professional problem.The vast majority of the decisions that really matter – that change systems, that reallocate large amounts of resources, that reform policies, that create new plans – all these decisions are made by people whose job it is to make them.” – Alex Steffen
Some other potentially useful thoughts on this topic:
You may be able to get an idea of where your company and your friends’ companies stand on supporting climate policy below thanks to Influence Map.
See if your company is one of the 1,000+ companies working with them to reduce emissions in line with climate science. You can also check out the Science Based Targets Initiative to:
- Start planting seeds to do so if your company isn’t already.
- Identify other companies in your sector that are already taking action to use for peer pressure.
Again, I highly recommend you listen to the full conversation with Bill, sign the climate voice pledge, and visit their resources page that has strategies and information customized for various groups including students, employees, leaders, and more!
Lastly, as Bill says:
“This is a really pivotal year. A door has opened in Washington for national policy. It’s on all of us who care about it to do everything we can to kick that door open as wide as we can and help get as much through as we can.”
“Dig in. Speak up. Push your company. And let’s make it happen.”