“How do you handle sustainability in your company?” I asked in an email exchange with a recruiting company.
“I’m not responsible for that topic” was their response.
I laughed out loud.
No one should ever be responsible for sustainability. It’s not something you can make one person responsible for. Sustainability is an attitude about how every person, every team member goes about their business. And it’s why many employees – especially millennials – feel misplaced when working for companies that don’t reflect and act upon their values.
Eco-friendliness that translates into how the workspace is set up often lies in the details. It’s about recycling standards that go beyond separating paper from landfill. It’s about the decision someone made about whether you have to wash your hands with a soap that causes microplastics or whether the meeting catering causes more CO2 than necessary. It’s about challenging how things have been done so far and how they can be made better.
Just like the digital revolution challenged many businesses over the past 20 years, the decade between 2020 and 2030 is going to be critical regarding sustainability.
We all are on our individual learning journey of trying to become more ethical in the way we live, consume, and work. You might already have sustainability champions in your workspace that might be leaving that side of themselves at home and feel their discontentment growing.
Most of us haven’t been educated and taught what sustainable practice means. While nature is a circular system without any waste, our attitude and way of doing things due to our socialization is linear. We do things the way we’ve always done them. And it’s hard to comprehend what is sustainable and what is not – is glass more sustainable than plastic? Is cheese better than meat? Do you think you know or do you actually know?
Leadership teams and office managers haven’t been trained in sustainability. It’s a business area that requires guidance and/or facilitation of an open discussion to better align your team’s values.