Engaging Employees and Having an Impact: The Evolution of Sustainability at Reset Connect

This article is written under CEA*.

Reset Connect is one the largest annual sustainability events in the UK and, as part of London Climate Action week, it’s a great time to take stock of how sustainability is evolving in the workplace.

The event hosted hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals who are all focused on sustainability.

This is what we learnt about how sustainability is evolving.

The sustainability movement is not homogenous anymore

It’s no longer about meeting all the same people, hearing the same case studies from the same companies and everyone being in about the same place. There are more innovative companies coming into all areas of sustainability, bigger gaps between the leaders and laggards and wide differences in the skills and knowledge of people working in sustainability. In short it’s an industry that’s growing up fast.

Good data is key

Having good data is now table stakes. A large part of the exhibition hall, and the panels, were about data. Data to help save energy, data to measure company emissions, data to footprint products and lots more. For anyone not clear that they needed a sustainability data strategy it would have been a wake up.

It’s also becoming a very complex area for companies as the myriad of accounting standards and frameworks continues to proliferate. During the week the ISSB launched its inaugural standards for sustainability which is a milestone in both reporting and standardisation. Companies will need more data, better data and investors and stakeholders will want it to be transparent.

But all that data is largely useless without people to analyse it and turn it into actionable insight. The importance of upskilling across all areas of sustainability was therefore another key area from carbon literacy to strategic sustainability planning led by the CSO.

Sustainability has fallen down the corporate agenda

This is an unfortunate reality of the many competing challenges that companies face as they tighten budgets, focus on shorter term wins and weather the changing economic landscape. At Reset we heard a lot of discussion about sustainability projects being “side of desk” and not much about companies wanting to be in the vanguard. If we don’t change this then the climate emergency will do it for us.

Employee engagement is becoming a thing

More and more companies are seeing that if they want to deliver on their sustainability goals then they got to bring their people with them.

Individual action is key to addressing this problem. As Alberto Pardo, Assistant Director at NatWest and Co-Chair of the Sustainable Futures Network, remarked , “Businesses have a critical role to play in addressing the climate emergency. We need every bank, every business, to prioritise the climate, today.”

By rallying your team together, to take steps and make change to their lifestyles both at home and at work, only then can we have an impact on the climate crisis.

But companies are also finding that to engage staff you need to do something different from the normal internal comms. For example, challenges and competitions are a key feature in this engagement strategy.

Sustainability Games dice

Mark Longstaff from Adobe gave a talk on this topic and summed it up perfectly.

The Race to Zero, the UN backed global campaign, was also at Reset and they actually kicked off London Climate Action Week with an event to launch their new “Persuade” handbook.

With a new focus on “Persuade” the Race to Zero is calling for non-state actors (companies, cities, universities) to align their advocacy and engagement with a just transition to net zero. This highlighted just how important it is to include citizens and employees in the race to halve emissions this decade.

Employee race to zero

Big events are a great way to bring people together to share best practice and learn about innovative ideas. As everyone heads back to their workplace it’s time to turn our collective attention back to the one thing that really matters now – action.

*CEA Climate Emergency Acknowledged. We know there’s a climate emergency and we know we need to take action. By writing under CEA we save you time reading about how bad the climate emergency is because you know it already. That means we we can focus on action.