The climate crisis is arguably the single most important issue facing society today, as environmental causes have become primary concerns for national governments and individuals alike. It is well-understood that businesses shoulder a large proportion of the responsibility for emissions on a wide scale, and are hence expected to do their part. Indeed, many businesses have already outlined their ambitions for a green future publicly.

One key sticking point for businesses today, though, is translating ambition into action. Many businesses have successfully signalled their virtues, but found it difficult to realise meaningful change in their operation – leading to many high-profile accusations of ‘greenwashing’ by environmental pressure groups.

However, when HR is involved, they are likely to have more impact on changing culture than any other group within the business.  This is because they are respected across the board, both among peers in the C-Suite and with team leaders.  With this in mind, how can an HR professional properly and appropriately embody change within your industry? What are some proven strategies you can implement in order to tangibly improve the environmental standing of your business amongst peers and rivals? How can you morally meet the demands of a world on the brink of potential climate collapse?

Training

One of the more impactful routes to engendering sustainable practice within your business lies in the form of training. Adopting new environmentally-friendly processes and even products requires your staff to be properly upskilled to directly administrate such changes, whatever form they take.

A more direct example of this relates to offering sustainable products and services as part of a trade. Solar panel installation is not a process that any trade professional can undertake; actively investing in training for staff to install solar panels enables you to properly provide new services with active and positive impacts on your industry and the wider built industry.

On a smaller, localised level, sustainability training can be geared towards equipping staff with the tools to effect positive change in their department or office. Training in workplace sustainability efforts like recycling or energy-saving measures can, through many little habitual changes, lead to larger impacts on your business’ carbon footprint.

Encouraging Recycling

HR leaders should ensure that the business has effective recycling and waste management policies in place, and be prepared to reinforce these with training, education and reminders if needed (and that may include reminding the C-Suite of the difference between greenwashing and climate action!)

Supplier Relationships

On the other side of your business, addressing your relationships with suppliers and manufacturers can have an even stronger impact on carbon footprints. Your carbon footprint is more complicated than the emissions your staff and processes are immediately responsible for creating; you are also responsible for the emissions of businesses that rely on your custom.

By encouraging your people to choose suppliers with sustainability values more closely aligned with your own, you can dramatically reduce the pollution created by such relationships. An eco-friendly supplier might use electric vehicles to deliver materials or goods, or source their stock from less pollutive sources.

Reducing Fossil Fuels

Of course, you can adopt some of these eco-friendly initiatives yourself in search of tangible action against climate change. Your trade fleet or company cars might be fossil-fuelled, adding considerable volume to your carbon footprint each year; embracing an electrified fleet can help you reduce emissions directly, with fuelling vehicles often the biggest pollutive burden any business bears.