Climate crisis: How CEOs can help steer us away in 2023 and beyond

Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues of our time. With more than 20 percent of the world’s population and over 25 percent of its landmass at risk due to rising temperatures, action is needed. While governments seem to be losing the battle against climate change, businesses can be the ones to help us to turn the tide against climate change. If you are a CEO then this is your chance to make a real difference.

Rather than relying on governments, businesses can make a big difference. The opportunity to make a positive impact isn’t lost on executives. Recent IBM Institute for Business Value research found that almost 4 in 10 executives said that environmental sustainability is a top priority for them today, and 86% of organizations have a sustainability strategy in place. However, just over 1 in 3 (35%) have acted on that strategy. 

Unfortunately, committing to action doesn’t come naturally to many managers and leaders. After all, changing how a business operates in order to benefit the planet and avert climate crisis can be scary and unfamiliar. To take advantage of this new reality and lead the way, leaders must understand some key strategies for preparing their teams and companies for change.

Build a culture of transparency and communication

One of the first steps for any leader who hopes to leverage climate change as an opportunity for growth is to shift the culture of their organization toward greater transparency and communication. This can only happen if employees feel comfortable sharing their views, discussing their concerns and confronting management when they aren’t being heard. 

Managers can foster a culture of transparency and communication by setting an example and demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt. They can also help to bring climate change and the impending climate crisis into the spotlight by promoting discussions in the workplace. 

Encouraging employees to have frank discussions about current and potential climate change impacts can help build a culture of transparency and communication. When people feel comfortable discussing potential risks and opportunities, they’re more likely to feel empowered to advocate for change, and that couldn’t be any more the case in relation to the climate crisis we collectively face

Be purpose-driven

One of the best ways for leaders to leverage climate change as an opportunity for growth and make a meaningful difference is to identify the purpose behind their activities and interactions. This purpose can then be used as a guiding light for decision-making, which will help to connect the organization’s efforts to their long-term strategy. 

By choosing a purpose that resonates with employees and other stakeholders, and that aligns with their values and goals, leaders can help their organizations to respond better to the complex and shifting challenges that climate change presents. A purpose-driven organization is one that is driven by a clear mission and vision. By having a clear goal in mind, organizations can be better positioned to respond to climate change.

Have clear goals and robust reporting

There is no room for ambiguity here. CEO’s must insist on clear and realistic goals in relation to climate change. This means carbon pledges which are matched by action and projects, and the highest levels of transparency and accountability where these are concerned. This also means strong governance, direction and a sense of purpose – without the latter action can quickly become halfhearted and outcomes diluted. It is imperative that action is not just a reaction to requirements for compliance, but grounded in purpose every step of the way. 

Create an inclusive, learning environment

Participating in climate change training, workshops and conferences can provide a good opportunity for leaders to deepen their knowledge about climate change issues and risks and learn from others. Immersing yourself in these can open your eyes to the implications of a warming planet. This kind of broad-based learning doesn’t happen naturally in many organizations, which is why it can be such a powerful force for change. 

Furthermore, by creating an inclusive, learning environment where employees feel safe discussing their concerns and asking questions, leaders can help to create an environment where people can begin to appreciate the complexity of climate change and learn about its impacts and complexities. Creating an inclusive, learning environment can help to create a more open environment where people can identify and modify the policies and actions that contribute to climate change, on both a company and industry level.

Lead by example

Leaders can use their positions to create an example for their teams by actively participating in climate change actions. This kind of active, everyday involvement can help to inspire others to follow suit.

Furthermore, demonstration can provide an invaluable path for people to learn about and appreciate the importance of climate change. Leaders can also use their positions to encourage discussions about climate change by encouraging their teams to engage in cultural discussions about the impacts of a warming planet.

By engaging in such discussions and creating a strong interest and commitment, managers can help to shift the cultural narrative away from the idea that climate change is only a future concern for the future rather than the present, and toward a recognition that it is a current problem that is making its impact known in the present.

Don’t be afraid to be bold and take risks

As leaders commit to climate action, they must take risks and be bold. This kind of willingness to experiment and make changes can help to create an environment that is more inclusive and inclusive. By being bold and taking risks, leaders bring a new, inclusive mindset to their organizations. This new mindset can help to shift the focus away from an overly cautious approach to climate change risk and toward a willingness to experiment with new ways of working.

Wrapping up

There is no time like the present to leverage climate change as an opportunity for business growth. Leaders can cultivate an inclusive, transparent environment where people feel comfortable discussing their concerns and confronting leadership when they are not being heard. They should lead by committing to actions to fight climate change and using their positions to support a change in mindset. Leaders must be bold and take risks, shifting their company’s cultural narrative away from the idea that climate change is only a concern for the future and toward a recognition that it is a problem that needs to be addressed today.

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