The most powerful climate tool you’ve never considered? Your job

To solve the climate crisis, we need as many people as possible to be showing up and driving change in every part of our lives – including at work. Laure Legros, WorkforClimate’s Head of Experience, explains how to make your job a climate job.

Profile Picture of Laure Legros
Laure Legros
March 26, 2024
5 min read
woman working climate job

If you’ve felt concern or anxiety in the face of ecological breakdown and the climate crisis, you’re not alone. You also might have heard that the best antidote to these feelings is action – but how? Where do you start? How can you have a real impact? 

An obvious first step is to make changes in your personal life. This could mean changing your habits to reduce your own footprint or taking part in collective action like volunteering with a climate NGO, putting pressure on  politicians or attending a protest.

But what if you’ve already made these changes, or you’re looking to level-up your impact in other areas? Enter: your job. Yes, the place where you spend (on average) 1,700 hours each year. There are plenty of reasons to escalate climate action in the workplace, the most undeniable being that companies are a huge contributor to the climate crisis, and rapid transformation is needed if we’re going to create a future that can sustain us. Wearing your climate hat in the workplace has personal benefits, too. It addresses the unpleasant “cognitive dissonance” many of us feel when there’s a disconnect between our day jobs and our personal values. 

“Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation”.  – Paul Hawken 

So the big idea is to make your job a climate job. To dedicate some – if not all – of those 1,700 annual hours on the clock to solving the biggest, most important issue humanity has ever faced. Sounds worthwhile, no?

It's that easy!

Okay, now the question isn’t really whether you should make your job a climate job ( yes, obviously!), it’s how? 

I often get asked this question. And while I don’t pretend to have a definitive answer, given the path to climate work is unique to each person, I do have some insights on how to frame the question. 

Making change from within

The reality is that the climate movement desperately needs people actively working on the inside to help shift corporations. Most companies won’t make the necessary changes without persuasion, because it competes with the imperative of maximising short-term profits. That’s where employees come in. Employees are arguably the most valuable asset a company has, and that value brings power. Power to advocate for the environment. To drive real change. To push climate action up the corporate ladder.

One question to ask yourself is: Can you see your company evolve to productively contribute to solving the climate crisis, and building the world we need? 

Let yourself imagine it’s possible. What would that look like? How would you feel walking into the office each morning, or telling people that you work for a climate champion that’s doing the work in a genuine and meaningful way?

"The climate movement desperately needs people actively working on the inside to help shift corporations."

If you think your organisation can change and you feel up for the challenge, I recommend you stay and have a go at influencing your company from within. 

Let’s dive a bit deeper into how. 

Incorporate a climate lens into your job 

One way to bring climate action into your day job is to consider how your existing role can positively contribute to your company’s transformation. If you work in HR, for example, you can look to provide greener employee benefits, or create a more climate-friendly travel policy. 

If you work in finance, you can bring sustainability into performance measurement, or do a climate and supply chain risk assessment. 

If you work in marketing, you can make sure the company nixes greenwashing and communicates with integrity and transparency, or you can engage with customers and communities on climate initiatives. 

If you work in logistics or supply chain, you can switch to suppliers who lead on sustainability, or work with suppliers to disclose their own emissions and set targets. 

The list goes on. 

The idea is that sustainability should not be the sole responsibility of the sustainability team. Sustainability should be embedded everywhere in the organisation, and every employee can help make this happen. 

Project Drawdown, one of my favourite organisations in the movement, recently published high-impact action guides for specific jobs and departments. You can check them out here

Get others on board

Beyond your day-to-day role, there’s something perhaps even more exciting to do: build collective power and influence with an employee climate action group.

Creating internal momentum on climate can help you advance and achieve ambitious climate goals for your organisation. 

This action is about employees actively contributing to and interrogating their company’s action on climate. What should be prioritised? What is the company doing well and where is it falling short? Where is there opportunity to step up and do better? Find your people, consider these questions and put an action plan in place.

When it comes to doing work that aligns with your climate values and ambitions, remember that it may not be a linear process. But whatever you decide, there is no wrong path. Every person, every business, every community pushing for change is getting us closer to our end goal: a climate that can sustain us, our environment and future generations to come.

This is the work of our lifetime. Let’s get to it. 

Feeling motivated? Access our WorkforClimate worksheet to help you get started on working for climate.

Further resources: 

Jamie Beck Alexander - Every job is a climate job 

Drawdown at Work Guide 

Planet Groups - Climate Leadership for employees presentation. 

Share Icon
Copy link

Subscribe today

Register your details to receive our weekly newsletter containing advice and strategies to help your company take climate action.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.