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Employee involvement needed for lower carbon emissions

Debby Jannink Partner Change & Leadership, PwC Netherlands 17/01/22

Behavioral change is as important as technological solutions

Organisations that set high climate ambitions need the involvement of all employees. It is not only a matter of finding technical solutions, but also of change management and behavioral change. If an organisation wants to transform in terms of sustainability, it must be supported by everyone.

Behavioral change and more sustainable mobility choices 

(The lack of) mobility options, organisational culture and way of working prevent employees from changing their behavior and making more sustainable choices for their commute and business miles. To really encourage employees, you need to look at the organisation as a whole. This means looking at the business (processes & policies), technology (providing user-friendly and relevant tools) and the experience perspective (employee behavior change and leadership).

Understanding the ecological footprint

Over the past year, PwC has introduced an initiative designed to make people aware of their mobility choices. The Environmental Footprint Insights provides insight into the carbon footprint that individual employees make with their commute and business travel kilometers. 

We have been measuring (and reporting) our total carbon emissions for years and also translating that number into emissions per FTE. However, the Environmental Footprint Insights app does not reveal the accounting, but the real emissions per person. A statistic we had no insight into until recently. Moreover, the app allows us to monitor and compare emissions per team or per client assignment. 

Insight provides positive action perspectives

Providing insight into travel kilometers makes it easier to talk about this. If managers say what is and what isn't allowed, this is generally experienced as negative in terms of 'we're not allowed anything anymore'. Insight gives people a positive perspective for acting. Employees find this important. Our 25th CEO Survey also revealed how much the expectations of employees play a role in the decision of organisations to become net zero.

Excellent basis for a discussion about travel kilometers

These personal and/or team kilometers form an excellent basis not only for a conversation with each other about travel kilometers, but also for a conversation with the customer. The struggle against climate change cannot be fought by individual organisations, but must take place in the supply chain. Fortunately, this is happening more and more: our customers are demanding efforts from us in this area, just as we expect efforts from our suppliers. The Environmental Footprint Insights app is therefore a tool for achieving sustainable behavioral change, so that people make conscious choices.

COVID-19 crisis gives momentum for dialogue

The COVID-19 crisis has given momentum to this dialogue. Through the crisis, everyone who can, has experienced that you can work in different places. On your own, but also with each other. That you don't always have to take the car or the plane to consult. I know that last fall we all got stuck in traffic jams again when we were allowed to go back to the office. The app showed an increase in mileage and resulting emissions in your face. I hope that this insight will lead us to leave the car just a little more often in the (near) future.

CEOs find measuring carbons emissions in supply chain complex 

CEOs find measuring their organisation's carbon emissions difficult. This plays a major role in the lack of a net zero target. When CEOs have a goal to reduce their own emissions and those in their supply chain as much as possible, it is partly because customers and employees expect them to do so.  

PwC's 25th CEO Survey also revealed large companies are more likely to aim for net zero than smaller ones. We see the same difference between listed and unlisted companies. This difference probably has to do with both the public pressure on listed companies and the knowledge on measuring emissions that these organisations possess.

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Debby Jannink

Debby Jannink

Partner Change & Leadership, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 394 98 21

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