Embracing sustainability: the butterfly effect

With so many organisations confirming their aspirational sustainability goals – from carbon neutral or carbon zero to carbon negative – there’s a huge opportunity (and commitment) to bring the whole organisation on the sustainability journey. But how do you go about that?

It’s important to understand that what makes an organisation sustainable isn’t simply that it develops the best, most carbon-free products. Offering great eco-friendly products and services are part of an important journey, but to fully embrace sustainability there needs to be a culture of caring for the planet throughout the whole organisation and we all know that cultural changes are not on/off switches.

Taking your people on a cultural journey to build their awareness in sustainability needs to be nurtured through leadership language and behaviour, carefully crafted and consistent internal communications and robust alignment of day-to-day congruent business decisions.

The butterfly effect

The essence of the butterfly effect is the notion that the ecosystems we live within are so sensitive that every tiny change can make a significant difference somewhere else in the system. Perhaps it’s best described by Robert Redford in the 1990 film Havana: ‘A butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean,’ or in this case every potentially trivial lifestyle change made by one your employees can make a significant impact towards your sustainability aspirations.

With this ethos in mind, engaging the whole workforce in your sustainability goals is not merely about updating them on your latest green product development or launch but more to do with increasing their awareness and commitment to protecting the environment overall. They can make greener personal lifestyle choices and understand the part they can play at home and at work.

Over the last eighteen months, as part of our B Corporation certification journey – a commitment to supporting our people, profit and planet in equal measure – we wanted to embark on this cultural shift at Something Big. In this blog we’re sharing a couple of great employee engagement programmes that could help you unite your team and organisation on your sustainability journey.

100 Ways in 100 Days

At the end of 2020, we were delighted to support a newly developed organisation by piloting their first employee education programme on sustainability, 100 Ways in 100 Days.  Whilst we all know some of the obvious lifestyle changes we can make, like reducing our use of plastic or our fuel consumption, we might also admit that becoming true eco champions is actually quite an overwhelming thought.

With so much conflicting information flying about we were relieved to get the opportunity to take a more guided and educational path. The programme served us weekly doses of well-researched and expertly validated content in manageable, easy to understand chunks supported by a range of engaging and fun activities that we could either carry out as individuals or as a team.

Across the programme we built up tiny (and often so simple) changes and increased our awareness. Perhaps most important was that the programme gave us the confidence to take control of our own personal impact by mastering some clear priorities in our lifestyle choices, noting that what works for one person is not practical for another – this gave us all the chance to take positive action that worked with our unique circumstances. From simple changes like switching our search engine default to Ecosia and reducing food waste by signing up to great food sharing apps like Olio to team activities like ‘wear your oldest clothes to work’ day and running swap shops, the programme was packed with tangible and practical changes.

But to prevent these great activities ending up as a flash in the pan, the programme goes further – behind the actions is a solid foundation of increasing knowledge on the dangers of climate change and the impact these lifestyle decisions are having, which opens minds and increases commitment to take action.

For us, the results of a programme like this ranged from bringing the team together and bonding over new-found knowledge and activities to increasing vital knowledge on the growing climate crisis and increasing the commitment to our sustainability journey.

To find out more about signing up to 100 Ways in 100 Days, contact founder and passionate planet champion Sue Skeats.

Morpho

Our sustainability journey also led us to support fledgling organisation, Morpho, who have a vision to “revolutionise the present thinking and future of people and the planet by igniting powerful networks of individuals to take concrete action that delivers meaningful excellence for society.”

Founded and run by a community of passionate Insead Business School alumni with extensive pedigree in leading global sustainability development and strong global connections with NGOs and MBA universities, this not-for-profit organisation has set about developing tools, hosting public and private debates and providing guided references that help organisations come together as they focus on delivering the Sustainability Development Goals.

Morpho work with organisations all over the world, particularly those with significant workforces, to engage their solutions-orientated business leaders and top university partners so they can share their expertise through a purpose built digital platform. In turn, this empowers employees to make changes that will positively impact society and move organisations along the sustainability journey, truly helping bring together organisations’ commitment to their people and the planet.

To find out more about Morpho get in touch with Manoella Wilbaut.

We’re experts in helping organisations with their internal communications and employee engagement – whether you need help bringing your workforce on your sustainability journey or a more general pathway to business success, talk to us.

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