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HR has a powerful role to play in the climate crisis 

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 year ago
  • Author: Emma Richardson
Colourful graphic of hands watering the earth

​Climate change.

It’s the phrase that produces a tight, anxious pit in most of our stomachs. 

The most inspired can feel completely powerless in the face of an insurmountable problem. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

HR sits in a really interesting place for making an impact on climate change within businesses. As the internal communication, education, development, talent and reward hub - there’s space for HR to make lots of decisions, and influence the actions of the entire company. So how can this be done?

We recently had a conversation with Charly Cox, founder of Climate Change Coaches, who are pioneering a coaching approach away from fear and towards ‘reviving a collective sense of agency and possibility’, about what HR can do to move things in a positive direction.

  • Be the internal voice 

‘There’s two voices inside our heads that reduce climate change motivation. One says ‘Can I do it?’ - we feel we lack the skills and ability, and the other says ‘Can we do it?’, we doubt our organisation’s or community’s ability to change, and feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge. 

HR is the internal voice of the company, and can become the voice of the company’s future. It’s not about being aggressive or angsty, but helping leaders think beyond the needs of the business today, to its needs in five or ten years time.’

  • Provide partnership

‘One of HR’s big strengths is influence, providing a thinking and coaching partner role to the leadership team. From a people perspective, HR can make clear the implications of acting, and not acting on climate change, and train internal coaches and champions to be able to have climate-related conversations that lead to action not despair. 

One clear reason for HR to engage with climate change is the changing nature of recruitment, and the desire of our best talent to work for organisations that are doing something about it. For companies who aren’t making their climate change values and goals clear, recruitment is becoming more challenging as it’s an issue that continues to rise in importance for job seekers.’

  • Educate!

‘Of course HR can facilitate learning about climate change. However, what we’ve found through our work is that people may not know all of the ins and outs of climate change, but they do know they’re worried, and this can create a lot of unease for staff, so providing some solid climate education is a good first step.

What’s going to be crucial is providing steps after education - the backstops, training and actionable goals, so people don’t feel hopeless and stuck. Companies often tell us that their managers are struggling to land their big carbon reduction targets into their operations, because  the scale of the task feels overwhelming. So it's about providing the training and then the support, for example through coaching, to support the implementation.’

If you found this article interesting, and want to explore more with Charly, you can get in contact with her here.

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