Beliefs About Sustainability

beliefsWhen people feel that sustainability is important and something that the organisation should be acting on, they are more likely to get on board with green initiatives. If this belief is missing, it’s harder to engage people.

Research on this enabler…

  • An analysis of a vast body of research found that pro-environment attitudes were among the best predictors of actual behaviour.
  • Research by Sirota Survey Intelligence found that when employees are positive about their company’s CSR commitments, they are also more engaged in general, and positive about the integrity of their senior management.
  • Research into recycling in Cornwall Hospital found the “key factors that linked intended behaviour to actions were the beliefs about the priority of waste management as an issue and the benefits of recycling, as well as whether staff were concerned with recycling”.

Strategies for improving this enabler…

  • Conduct regular training and information sessions on sustainability topics which appeal to people. When it is of interest and relevance, more people will tune in.
  • Localise your messages and information about sustainability. People are more influenced by information relating to things close to them in time and space.
  • Use people with previously established credibility to provide sustainability information. Rather than the local green advocate, consider getting champions of sport and business to deliver the message.
  • Research shows that people are most influenced and inspired when they feel that are listened to and cared for, are given some evidence, and have some choice and room for negotiation on how they engage.

Best Practice Examples…

  • Recruitment company Talent2 “undertakes to educate our people about climate change and what they can do in their personal and professional lives to lessen their impact on our planet”
  • Australian retailer Woolworths uses their internal Eco Ambassador team to increase employee awareness and knowledge of broad environmental issues as well as those specific to Woolworths
  • City of Fort Lauderdale provided training to its employees on the fundamentals of climate change

How Awake can help…

  • Drawing on the psychology of sustainability engagement, Awake can help you to design your communications and engagement programs in such a way that people are influenced and inspired for action.
  • Awake can design and deliver a workshop which introduces your people to sustainability in a way which engages and influences their thinking. We can also co-facilitate training with your sustainability subject matter experts.
  • The Sustainability Culture Indicator contains a scale which measures people’s beliefs that sustainability is something important for the organisation to lead on, and compares the findings to other organisations.

Other useful resources…

  • The US Forest Service has numerous fact sheets and training guides for educating employees about climate change and other sustainability issues
  • UNESCO has links to a range of fact sheets about the causes and impacts of climate change
  • Grist produced a series on “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming”. Links to all the articles are at this page
  • It’s useful to be familiar with the Theory of Planned Action, a theory that links behaviour with action