The Employee Race to Zero, a competition to drive employee engagement

In 2023, the UN backed Race to Zero and Giki launched the first-ever “Employee Race to Zero”, a global competition for companies to bring their employees together and compete in teams for three weeks of fun sustainability competition ahead of COP28.

The inaugural event brought together 21 participating organisations in the vanguard of sustainability employee engagement, which represented 600,000 employees and ten different industries.

The Employee Race to Zero was supported and endorsed by the Race to Zero campaign to underpin a new element of its membership requirements, the ‘Persuade’ criteria. This is one of the five criteria, known as the 5 P’s, which require members to Pledge, Plan, Proceed, Publish, and Persuade in order to achieve the purpose of the campaign, to reduce emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

The Employee Race to Zero accelerates the 5th Criteria, “Persuade”, which aims to align policy and engagement with halving emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. Employees at organisations have a critical role in driving solutions to climate change, delivering corporate carbon reduction targets, reducing their impacts, and influencing clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders to deliver sustainable practices.

Employee engagement activities in the Employee Race to Zero

Giki, a Race to Zero Accelerator, devised a unique and innovative format to inspire employees to act in support of their organisation’s Race to Zero commitments and learn what they can do for the planet together.

Each team took part in three weeks of challenges around accessible themes, including biodiversity, food and climate action. The Race fit around busy diaries to support sustainability business priorities. As such, high levels of activity were seen throughout, building new knowledge, changing attitudes and mindsets, and growing interests in sustainability.

Participants were encouraged to share the sustainability steps they were taking, their progress, and achievements. This culminated in a weekly live event to reinforce engagement, collaboration, and climate education, and celebrate success.

A league was set up for participants to compete and kept everyone motivated with weekly rewards for individuals who took the most action for the planet, while climate actions taken contributed to the highly coveted overall podium for organisations.

This turned education into action, and the format saw fantastic levels of engagement. It also created many conversations across social media and inspiration to do more on sustainability.  

The competition culminated in a ‘Closing Ceremony’ event to bring everyone together to share learnings, celebrate successes, reinforce the new connection with the planet we had fostered, and create opportunities for ongoing action.

The positive impact of a sustainability competition

Participants took over 14,300 climate actions during the competition, saving 337,020kg carbon, 11m litres of water, 98,178 m2 land, and 61,057 single-use plastics.

This was equivalent to 893 short-haul flights, or 39 times around the world in a 4×4!

The Employee Race to Zero was a fantastic success, so much so that Giki is running a new competition in 2024 for organisations that want to act ahead of COP29. 

This year, the focus will be on sustainability at work to build work-related sustainability knowledge and empower employees to support company sustainability strategies. With learning engagement through workshops and live events, challenges, and competition reinforced through climate communications, online content, and our award-winning science-based platform.

The Employee Race to Zero demonstrates that the right incentives can drive culture and mindset change to achieve significant carbon emission reductions. Giki and the Employee Race to Zero help bridge the gap between company sustainability strategies and employee action.

Ahead of COP29, organisations around the world need to recognise the importance of staff in achieving targets for protecting the climate and nature. Employee engagement is a critical way to accelerate the Race to Zero.
Her Excellency Ms Razan Al Mubarak, UN High Level Climate Champion for the UAE and COP29

Now is the opportunity to sign up for the 2024 Employee Race to Zero to raise awareness of your commitment to the environment, provide evidence towards commitments, and empower your employees to act in support of company goals.

Sign up to take part or find out more.