· Features

Hot topic: Tackling climate change

School children across the globe recently went 'on strike’ after an IPPR report suggested there are just 12 years left to limit the impact of climate change

As the CBI calls for the government to work with firms to reduce carbon emissions, how can HR help their organisations go green, and attract young talent to boot?

Abigail Lerman, HR director at Stella McCartney, says:

"I think the key role that HR plays is to create opportunities. Responsibility for our planet is part of our culture and it’s a mindset of the people who work at Stella McCartney.

"We are big supporters of meat-free Mondays and only operate vegetarian workplaces globally. In our London HQ we have Veg Out, our purely veggie/vegan cafe, where we offer free cooked lunches every day.

"We also have a network of ‘Green Leaders’ across the world who, in addition to their role, volunteer to receive training on sustainability topics and who are responsible for ensuring their workplace is as green as possible.

"We can always go further and do more, and these are just a few examples. It is absolutely critical for all businesses to step up and take action, and for HR to put green initiatives at the heart of the people strategy."

Gudrun Cartwright, environment director at Business in the Community (BITC), says:

"Tackling climate change is about behaviour change. HR professionals are well placed to support this change at home and at work.

"There are a number of different ways HR can lead on this. Firstly, through promoting home working. Even though we are a small organisation, BITC finds this to be a hugely-valued benefit.

"HR professionals can also use employee engagement programmes.PwC’s regular campaigns range from recycling to promoting vegan food and reusable cups. BITC’s The Circular Office Guide is also helpful.

"You could consider convening a youth advisory panel to enable young people to help you prioritise actions and bring them together with your teams to innovate. We’d also recommend measuring your impact through staff surveys looking at cost, waste and carbon.

"Finally, build a community of HR practitioners interested in driving change – in your workplace, through the CIPD, or on LinkedIn. Tackling climate change is critical for our generation. Businesses that get ahead of the curve will flourish and attract the best talent. It’s down to all of us to play our part and deliver a healthy future."

Check back tomorrow to read part two of this hot topic