It’s a simple comparison. The rise in the global average temperature is currently the biggest problem facing the world, so naturally we are seeing a commensurate increase in the number of new ventures focusing on ways and means of tackling the crisis. Many of them want to sell their services to large corporations.
But here’s the question. While it is certainly true that companies are embracing – with varying degrees of enthusiasm – ESG reporting and the concept of sustainability, how much change are we seeing? And from a startup and early stage business perspective, is there a real demand for solutions that can help reduce businesses’ environmental impact?
In theory, the answer to that question should be yes. A transition to net zero is on the global agenda and pressure from policymakers, regulators and investors is certainly mounting. In contrast, there are the many other pressures that companies face in the here and now: inflation, the large layoffs and competitiveness in the digital age to name just three. Undoubtedly, there is a great temptation to mentally view the net-zero transition as a problem for the future.
So how do climate startups convince potential buyers that now is the right time to invest in change?
Emphasizing the positive
Well, you might point out that a product or solution that can be seen as a “nice to have” rather than a “must have” can play an important role in increasing productivity or improving retention of employees.
That is the approach of Climate school – an educational enterprise, born out of Kite Insights, a company founded ten years ago with the intention of helping companies turn their environmental and social ambitions into action.
The premise behind Climate School itself is that all efforts by companies to become more sustainable will be much more effective if employees play their part. To that end, the company offers educational programs that aim to equip team members with the scientific knowledge and skills needed to drive change within their organizations while fostering an emotional connection to the climate issue. As founder Sophie, Lambin says, the programs are designed to engage “head, heart and hands.”
Lambin, an alumnus of professional services firm PWC, founded Kite Insights ten years ago. “I started Kite under the assumption that companies had the power to do good, but they don’t always know how,” she says. The extension of that logic is that a growing number of employees also want to play a role in making their company more sustainable, but to be effective they need both knowledge and skills. “Employees need to be trained,” Lambin says.
That is what Climate School wants to do. Working with partners, it provides customers with e-learning on climate issues and insight into how that knowledge can be turned into action.
But isn’t this one of those “nice to haves” rather than something essential? You could say that teams require quite a bit of training. And employers might consider that training on digital skills or product knowledge should be prioritized over helping their staff get to grips with the science of climate change.”
Climate School would argue otherwise. According to research released by the company to coincide with: Climate Action Week in London By 2022, 53 percent of employees will link their company’s climate action to job satisfaction, and 93 percent say it’s important for motivation and well-being. Equally importantly, 77 percent say they are ready and willing to tackle the climate crisis at work, but they need more education.
So from the Climate School perspective, the implication is that companies that engage employees in tackling the climate problem will outperform companies that don’t in terms of hiring and retention, not least because their people will be more engaged. to be. “The arguments for staff training are very strong,” says Lampin.
By training teams, she says, companies can help build climate awareness across a range of functions, including sales, R&D and supply chain management. All this is included in the sustainability agenda.
To date, the climate school has focused primarily on corporate clients, such as Microsoft and Schneider Electric, but Lampin says medium and small businesses can also benefit from staff training. To that end, the company continues to develop an online modular curriculum.
The question, of course, is whether potential customers will believe the logic. You could argue that employee surveys enable individuals to present their best selves, for example by making a clear personal commitment to tackle climate change. Whether action on the part of a company will translate into a real increase in employee motivation or better employee retention is another matter. That said, involving employees should have an impact on companies’ ability to achieve their climate-related goals.
But there’s a bigger picture here. As the climate technology sector grows and attracts more VC money, the challenge for emerging companies is not just to encourage potential clients to invest in good deeds in a bad world. It is also about making the business case.