This article was updated on July 10, 2018.
Are eco-friendly strategies for global organizations something you need to worry about? Following the Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, 195 nations agreed to a historic deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to The New York Times, "the core of the Paris deal is a requirement that every nation take part" by developing a plan to reduce emissions and publicly report on the results every five years.
Although the COP21 Accord is binding only for participating nation states, global organizations can lead by example by adopting the same guidelines and forging new, greener paths. HR leadership can and should be at the forefront of these initiatives.
Here are five eco-friendly strategies for global organizations to get your business headed in the right direction:
1. Be an Early Adopter
The first action global organizations can take is to publicly and voluntarily agree to the terms of the Paris Accord, which includes developing a plan and publicly reporting on results of environmental initiatives.
Newsweek publishes an annual Green Companies List ranking the largest global enterprises' environmental impact, and it's possible your organization is already making voluntary disclosures for this list. If not, the simplest way to get your organization's hat into the ring is to make a firm commitment to be more eco-friendly, using the framework of the Paris Accord.
2. Reduce Employees' Carbon Footprint
Increasing commuting hours are contributing to both greenhouse gas emissions and employee stress, according to The Atlantic. So one specific, eco-friendly strategy for global organizations is to promote the reduction of employee commuting. Not every global enterprise can have a fleet of commuter buses driving thousands of employees to and from work every day, a la Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Cisco, Box and other Silicon Valley organizations. However, new services, such as RidePal, are popping up so organizations can share in the benefits of busing employees without the need to arrange their own transportation system.
Uber also offers a service to encourage carpooling to work, according to the Verge. Not only can organizations promote public transportation by offering employees annual bus, subway, and train passes, but you can also offer Uber credits to promote more carpooling.
As more corporations move to centralized, downtown office spaces, and more employees move to the suburbs, global organizations could help reduce commuting by offering more flexible work-at-home arrangements or explore opening suburban satellite office space.
3. A New Way for Executive Pay
As an incentive for leaders of global organizations to develop eco-friendly strategies, executive compensation plans could be linked, in part, to reductions in energy use or greenhouse gas emissions. According to Newsweek, 53 percent of the largest organizations in the U.S. — and 69 percent globally — have already "linked at least part of their executive bonus payout to green factors like energy use and greenhouse emissions."
4. Thinking Globally Starts Locally
As an extension of your efforts to change the culture of your organization from within, there is also a wonderful opportunity to promote and support your employees' work to better their own community. For instance, back in 2009, Wal-Mart launched a "Personal Sustainability Project," which helps employees "make and keep commitments to their planet and to their health" through environmentally friendly activities such as biking to work, conserving water or otherwise finding new and different ways to conserve energy in their everyday lives.
5. A Green Takeover
Making the world around your organization a better place can go beyond one initiative and become a core element of your corporation's overall culture. Consider IBM's "Smarter Planet" campaign. It is a marketing campaign, of course, but is also a business strategy and a global environmental initiative all rolled into one. IBM employees rally around this concept of a "Smarter Planet," and prospective employees and clients see an organization that values projects and products that actually create a smarter, safer planet.
HR leaders who push to incorporate eco-friendly strategies into the fabric of their organization will find that these ideals not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also offer a fantastic return on investment.