Make Your Company Sustainable

by | August 16, 2019

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Credit: Nick Youngson, Alpha Stock Images

In last week’s newsletter, I wrote to encourage job seekers (college students and existing employees alike) to choose a job in sustainability.

Because the future economy will revolve around making everything sustainable. So, if you want to, you can do meaningful work and make a great living.

A few days after writing this, I was asked this:

What advice do you have for individuals interested in working on sustainability problems but working in traditional roles?

I’m sharing my answer with you because the second part of it is key for those of you who don’t want to leave their company but do want to make their workplace more sustainable:

Big picture

Sustainability is the future of the economy. It has to be.

People working in this space will have job security for decades and will be in a growing industry which means there are opportunities to excel professionally.

The way I see it, people in traditional roles have a couple of options:

1. Find a new job at a sustainable company (this may help).

Your current skills and experiences are transferrable. Most companies need sales, HR, accounting, etc. You can also repurpose your strengths – you can learn to do anything you set your mind to if you want it bad enough.

2. Try to make your current company more sustainable.

As an employee, you have the influence to change things where you work now. Just look at the 7,700 Amazon employees pressuring Jeff Bezos. Or this amazing joint letter from employees to their CEO at a UK media company.

“One of the biggest roles you can play in any company is to wake up those around you, wake up those who lead you and challenge what you can do as an organisation to tackle the climate emergency face-on.”

You can help to stop global warming and make a great living doing it.

You just have to go for it.

So, if you don’t want to go find a sustainable company to work for, you can still make a huge difference. You can get your company, regardless of the industry, to respond appropriately to the climate crisis threatening all of us by:

  • Incorporating it into decision-making wherever applicable.
  • And becoming more sustainable – ideally adopting science-based greenhouse gas emissions targets.



Here’s what the employees at that UK media company wrote in an article about their unfolding story to do just that:

Immediate Media is a UK private company of around 1400 people. A leading multi-platform media business that reaches some 26 million people through our well-known brands, like BBC Good Food, RadioTimes and Gardeners’ World.

On 15th May, a group of employees decided to write and hand in a letter to our CEO, Tom, along with a copy of the “Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells. It asked him to consider what more we could do as a business to address the growing climate crisis.

At the time, the letter had 37 signatures; a week later when our bi-annual all company meeting was held, signees had jumped to 52. Today, 128 staff members* from across the business have added their names, from editorial to production, ad sales and digital teams.

We are like many ordinary people today. We go to work each day, focusing on our jobs, our to-do lists and the deadlines we need to meet. Yet just beneath the surface, in some corner of our minds, we hear the warnings and see the climate and ecological breakdown unfolding in the news. In those moments crammed between the busy slots in our diaries, the reality of the life-as-we-know-it dangerously unraveling held up against the reality of a day job — it can feel jarring, absurd, hopeless.

We hope that by sharing our letter publicly we will show other people, in organisations everywhere, that you are not helpless in the face of this climate crisis. In any business, together you are a force for change multiplied by those co-workers, teams and managers, who you already achieve so much with every day; people who you probably spend more waking hours with than members of your own families and people who have just as much invested in a diverse natural world and a safe future for their families and communities.

One of the biggest roles you can play in any company is to wake up those around you, wake up those who lead you and challenge what you can do as an organisation to tackle the climate emergency face-on. This is the top of your to-do list. This is our deadline. This is the work that needs to be done today.

Below is our letter.

You can read their letter here. It’s very well written…almost like a template to be replicated 😉

I’m curious – is sustainability a part of your job? Do you want it to be? Think you could get a couple of coworkers to sign on to a letter like the employees at Amazon and Immediate Media?

Let me know what you think!




This post originally featured in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter below!

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