“Good news: Your job is a climate job!”

Anna Triponel

October 7, 2022
Our key takeaway: Feeling like your 9-to-5 couldn’t be farther from action on climate change, sustainability and just transition? Well, according to a series of new role-specific action guides for employees and leaders across traditional business areas…”Good news: Your job is a climate job!”  What this means for you, for your team and for your company: large-scale transformation doesn’t just come from sustainability, CSR or human rights teams, it comes from every individual and business unit working within their respective areas of expertise and responsibility to create ownership for robust climate action. And, according to Drawdown Labs, when teams across Finance, Government Relations, Human Resources, Legal, Marketing, Procurement and Sales coordinate their actions to address the company’s climate risks and impacts, the resulting network can shift the way the business model handles the climate crisis at its very foundations.

Last year, Drawdown Labs, an initiative of Project Drawdown, launched a report on Climate Solutions At Work: Unleashing Your Employee Power. Now, Drawdown Labs has created a collection of Job Function Action Guides—tools and materials for workers in specific roles to “apply your skills and expertise to the climate crisis while holding your company accountable for sweeping climate action”:

  • First of all, what’s a drawdown and what does it mean to have a drawdown-aligned business?: In the climate change context, “[d]rawdown is defined as the moment when atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations stop climbing, and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping future climate change.” Drawdown Labs describes a drawdown-aligned business as one that “leverages all aspects of its business— its social, political, and financial capital—to reduce emissions well beyond its own operations and help secure a just climate future for all.”
  • Some general advice for employees to tip the scales on climate action within their company: Drawdown Labs insists that, “[I]nside most companies, only a handful of people with “sustainability” roles consider climate issues part of their workday. But in this most all-encompassing challenge in human history, every job must be a climate job.” It provides four high-level pieces of guidance for workers to engage with their employers on climate change, to supplement role-specific work: (1) “Form groups with like-minded colleagues focused on creative brainstorming, identifying company leverage points, and instigating collective action. Whether through ‘green teams,’ employee resource groups, or under-the-radar organizing, employees can pull from a variety of teams and skills, promote active participation, and set priorities and goals.” (2) “Conduct power mapping with colleagues to identify networks inside (and outside) your company that can be tapped for change. When considering requests to company leadership, these types of mapping exercises can help you understand where influence sits in your company. Rather than bringing a request to the most powerful decision maker, this process helps identify a more accessible staff member with the right type of leadership influence.” (3) “Join action-oriented groups like Climate Changemakers,, or (for those in the tech industry) to share resources and build community.” (4) “Learn the latest about global climate solutions and explore ways to work climate into your own job responsibilities." 
  • Now, what about specific actions you can take within your job function? Well, regardless of your function…“Good news: Your job is a climate job!”: Drawdown Labs has developed role-specific action guides and checklists for employees and leaders working in Finance, Government Relations and Public Policy, Human Resources, Legal, Marketing, Procurement and Sales and Client-Facing Roles. Here are a few examples of what job-specific action can look like: if you work in Human Resources or Operations, you can “[o]ffer climate-friendly retirement plan options. (Better yet, make them the default.) Work with finance to evaluate whether 401(k)s, retirement plans, and other portfolios are invested in fossil fuels. [And], find out whether your company’s insurers finance carbon-intensive projects. If so, create a policy that gives preference to divested insurance companies.” You can also “[i]ncorporate climate and sustainability requirements and metrics into job descriptions. For employees, include them in objectives and key results, as well as performance reviews and bonuses” and “[f]oster a work culture where employees feel comfortable and are able to bring up climate concerns to leadership and take on climate at work. Create consistent pathways and forums for employees to provide feedback to leadership.” If you work in Finance, you can “[d]irect decisionmakers toward banks that are: 1) minimally financing the fossil fuel industry and deforestation; 2) shifting their financing to climate solutions; 3) committing to aggressive anti–fossil fuel policies; and 4) calculating their financed emissions.” You can also “[o]ffer your company’s borrowers and suppliers better terms and rates when they reach sustainability milestones you set and encourage them to achieve” and, “[i]f your company works with an insurance broker, inform them that you want to consider not only policies and pricing but also the sustainability of insurance carriers during each insurance renewal.” In a Procurement role, you can “[a]ctively seek out and choose suppliers that align with your company’s climate goals, in a way that doesn't inhibit your team’s productivity or business impact”; “[w]ork with the operations team to develop company policies that give preference to sustainable suppliers and require suppliers to adopt science-based emissions reduction targets—and create penalties for noncompliance”; and “[i]nstitute changes across your supply chain processes to maximize efficiency (for example: localized production, backhauling, and low-carbon material transport).” Legal teams can shape corporate governance: “[w]ork with the board’s compensation committee to tie C-suite compensation to achievement of the company’s climate targets”; “[i]nclude climate topics in every board meeting agenda”; and “[e]nsure that oversight of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) activities rests with the board.” Legal professionals can also “[w]ork with procurement teams to develop contractual language that requires key customers and suppliers to provide emissions data”; “[f]amiliarize yourself with the physical risks of climate change (e.g., sea-level rise) and, if relevant, adopt contractual language to directly or indirectly allocate risk”; and “[w]hen conducting Know Your Customer processes or due diligence in connection with a transaction, include diligence on the counterparty’s exposure to climate risk.”

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