Sustainability Climate Change

Employees put pressure on companies to meet climate change goals, but hurdles remain

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to humanity’s future, and it will take an army of qualified individuals — from carbon accountants to scientists to ecopreneurs — working together to reach a net zero future.”
Building next to trees.
iStock.

Story at a glance


  • Despite employees expressing they want companies to commit more to a sustainable future, many doubt corporations will do so.

  • This is in part thanks to a lack of qualified individuals to fill sustainability roles and few resources and training for existing workers to better incorporate sustainable actions into their jobs.

  • A new survey from Salesforce details some ways employers can boost workers’ confidence in company efforts to address climate change.

The imminent threat of climate change along with huge opportunities to address the global crisis have led workers to pressure employers to act on sustainability and environmental goals. 

However, a shortage of qualified talent at companies to help meet climate commitments largely inhibits widespread progress at the corporate level. 

That’s according to a new report from Salesforce that found more than 80 percent of workers want to help their companies meet these goals, but feel they do not provide adequate roles, training and tools to help fight climate change. 

Researchers conducted a double-blind survey of 1,297 workers across Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States in August 2022. 


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“Climate change is the single greatest threat to humanity’s future, and it will take an army of qualified individuals — from carbon accountants to scientists to ecopreneurs — working together to reach a net zero future,” authors of the report wrote. “But without the qualified talent to fill the roles, an already daunting task is nearly impossible.”

One potential solution to this problem lies in the already-employed workforce. Survey results showed 3 in 5 workers are eager to incorporate sustainability into their current role. 

However, respondents also felt additional challenges impede corporate progress, including the complex sustainability reporting landscape and low investment in sustainability training. 

Three in 5 individuals said they’re skeptical their employers will meet sustainability goals in time, while the vast majority of respondents were skeptical companies in general will do so. 

But implementing simplified sustainability reporting, training existing employees and hiring new ones with sustainability skills could help boost workers’ trust in companies’ commitments. 

“Language in the sustainability field is very technical — there is a language gap. People understand personal sustainability but not corporate sustainability,” a sustainability leader told Salesforce when interviewed about the findings. 

Despite 70 percent of workers reporting it’s important their company operates with net-zero emissions, over half did not know whether their company does so, underscoring the “need not just for skilling, but for ensuring overall education for employees around company sustainability commitments and climate goals,” authors said. 

Meanwhile, half of respondents said they would leave their current company if they learned it did not follow through on sustainability commitments.