On Friday 7th October 2011 Zircon was invited to volunteer at the British Psychological Society/Division of Occupational Psychology ‘Go Green’ Conference. As Zircon are striving to be as Green as possible by incorporating sustainable practices in the workplace, it was important to attend to try to find new ways to incorporate sustainability into the business.
The one day conference was designed to educate, motivate and inspire business owners and leaders to take a greener and sustainable path in their business. The conference speakers showed how they had incorporated green practices into their business and how easy and manageable steps can be taken on board in others businesses as well.
Speakers included Anna Kane (Ampleo Ltd), James Brittain (The Discovery Mill) and Tony Overbury (University College London) plus those working in sustainability teams in large organisations (for example Cisco, Betfair, The Co-operative Group, Virgin Media, The Royal Air Force and Thomas Cook).
Why is it important to be Green?
Ian Walker (Lead of Employee Engagement Cisco UKI) highlighted that only 30% of adults in the UK believe climate change is definitely a reality, Geoff Beattie (Professor of Psychology, Manchester University) said that if the other 70% do not change their behaviour, then a major environmental crisis will occur.
How can you be green? – What can you do in your business?
The key is to make small and achievable changes, for example, aiming to cut down the amount of things that are printed, keeping lights and heating on only when necessary. For example:
• John Mulholland (People and Management Solutions) explained that ‘the first responsibility of a leader is to define what is achievable’. For example, managing IT energy by switching off all IT at the end of the day could reduce global emissions by 15% by 2020.
• Jean Lambert, MEP for the Green Party, suggested that we need to work from the bottom up – in other words talking to employees before the managers to get their ideas, recommendations and buy-in.
• Graham Precey (Head of Corporate Responsibility, Legal and General Group PLC) said that when looking at implementing sustainability, in the workforce:
- 15% of people are action orientated by nature
- 20% need convincing
- 65% need a business case.
It is therefore important to focus on those who are action orientated giving a clear environmental strategy, it is important for the employees to feel what you are doing. Those who are action orientated will help you drive things forward and then the rest will follow.
• Richard Jackson (University College London) who worked on the sustainability of the Olympic Stadium highlighted the importance of rewarding people. Richard spoke with the employees on the building site, as different teams would come down to work at the site for different periods of time. Richard printed 100 Olympic site worker badges and after training the teams on the importance of keeping the noise down on the site for the local communities for example, he explained that the most sustainable workers would receive these memorabilia and it worked. The workers were very proud of their achievements in being sustainable.
• Katie Chapman from Virgin Media explained that they go to great lengths to gain trust, transparency and authenticity, which is vital within business. Virgin’s message to achieve sustainability in the work place:
- Get people to contribute
- Make it part of a broader set of employee engagement initiatives
- Have a plan for achieving key movements at important parts of content
- Take your employees with you, it will make the journey a lot easier
- Most of all have fun, it doesn’t have to be boring!
In Zircon we actively promote a Green working environment by:
• Using remote workers
• Printing only when necessary
• Recycling as much as possible
• Using a small office space
• Using solar panels to heat water
We hope you will join us on the green revolution.
Written by Ruth Sweetman, Trainee Occupational Psychologist