I’ve asked hundreds of people this question: which comes first, action or belief?
The large majority pause, and then say, “Belief”.
The reality is, most of the time it is actually action that comes first. This counter-intuitive finding has huge consequences for how we work with people to create change and generate positive action. This is because a disproportionate amount of time is spent trying to create belief (e.g. do this thing because it’s good for you/your community/the planet), when we would be more effective in focusing our effort around activating (e.g. here’s a small action, try it).
Below is a full transcription of Al Gore's keynote speech at the 2017 Ashden Awards Ceremony in London, UK
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank Krishan Guru-Murthy for his introduction and of course I want to first of all acknowledge Sarah Butler-Sloss who has done a magnificent job in running this organisation. Thank you so much.
As the Founder and Director and a judge as well, and to you and all of your team, to the Chair of the Ashden Board of Trustees, Diana Fox-Carney, to my partner and co-founder of Generation Investment Management, David Blood, who was here, and one other personal acknowledgment. There are some members of the Climate Reality Project here. Charles Perry and other Climate Reality attendees are here and I wanted to acknowledge them as well. Thank you very much.
A passion for racing cars and environmentalism aren't usual bedfellows. Hugo Spowers is not a usual entrepreneur though, and the business he has created, Riversimple, isn't a business-as-usual company, as represented by its purpose: “To pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”.
The headline innovation of Riversimple is they are bringing to market a hydrogen fuel cell car: the Rasa. Whilst this is impressive, it is actually only one of the cutting edge circular economy innovations at the core of this company. As Andrew Davis, CEO of the Environmental Transport Association, observes: "It’s important to think outside the box. I think some people at Riversimple don't know where the box is”.
Workplace wellbeing is rapidly moving up the agenda of business, government and civic society. It is now seen as not only the right thing to do, but it also has a compelling economic imperative. Wellbeing is a broad concept that includes physical and mental health, and the social/relationship aspects of the work environment. It ranges from dealing with challenging mental health issues to supporting those who are already flourishing to continue that way.
It is clear there are issues with wellbeing in the workplace that need to be addressed. For example, sedentary workplaces are leading to the observation that "sitting is the new smoking," and “presenteeism”—attending work while sick—is decreasing productivity and happiness levels, and creating increasing levels of sick leave, both from mental and physical issues.
In Britain and beyond, businesses large and small are getting on with a rapid transition to renewables, despite mixed messages coming from the UK government.
Some examples of positive messages from the UK Government are: approving the Fifth Carbon Budget in June; Nick Hurd, the Minister for Industry and Climate Change, stating in September that “I am very keen to work with business to ensure that the Emissions Reduction Plan is credible and sufficiently substantial”; and then in October, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, promising to “upgrade” the UK's clean energy system. There was, however, a lack of specific policy pledges from Clark, and the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been approved and even more surprisingly, in February 2017 the government suggested that it will either take away subsidies or increase taxes on renewables.
Ten years ago I launched myself into the world of sustainability, and it’s been an amazing roller coaster journey.
In 2006 there were some things I already knew—for example, that sustainability is good for people, profit and planet—but over the years, I’ve learnt many things, just 10 of which are below.
These highlight aspects of my personal story and the wider narrative as I, and sustainability, have developed.
I had a conversation with Tim Haywood, Group Finance Director and Head of Sustainability at Interserve. The topic was ‘inspiring sustainability’ and I certainly left the conversation feeling stimulated and motivated. If you want to hear the full interview, look at the Podcast page.
Interserve is a worldwide construction and support service business of 80,000 people in the FTSE250. After a career in finance, Tim joined the company six years ago as FD, and five years ago, took on the sustainability portfolio. Outside of work, he has a passion for gardening, is a competitive rower and loves his family.
You are unique, your organisation is unique. Any empowerment campaign is about your journey to generate positive and sustainable change for your organisation
If you want to empower your colleagues, the first person that must be empowered is yourself! Your colleagues will unconsciously look to you as a model and the unconscious is very powerful at feeling things the conscious brain doesn’t see. Therefore if you start an empowerment campaign without ensuring you are in a good place, then your colleagues will sense the incongruence.
On an average day in the Western world, people see between 250 and 270 pieces of advertising. Globally, approximately $600 billion was spent on advertising in 2015, with the UK spending nearly 1% of its GDP on marketing. The power and reach of marketing and advertising in our society is unquestionable.
Dentsu Aegis Network is one of the largest agencies in the world. They have recognised they can harness this power as a force for good by utilising the skills of their employees to support community-based charities. Over the past five years, the agency has helped more than 2,500 small charities increase their communications capabilities. The company’s commitment has been particularly evident in its work with GlobalGiving UK, in an innovative approach to sourcing marketing skills through the Route to Good programme, and also with the GlobalGivingTIME programme, one of the first online volunteering communities.
Employee engagement is a buzzword that has been around for a long time, but what does it actually mean, and what are the benefits to organisations? There are many ways an organisation can engage its employees. This article explores both the theory and practice, especially in relation to the social side of sustainability. I’ll highlight two best practice examples from this vast galaxy of programs, initiatives, and missions, one from either side of the Atlantic, one a niche NGO and the other a high profile brand.
Whilst there are hundreds of definitions of this field, a particularly well- rounded one comes from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Engagement is: “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to other”. They make a useful distinction between emotional engagement (driven by a desire to do more for an organisation) and transactional engagement (drive to earn a living and progress).
In addition to helping clients communicate, connect and change, I love highlighting stories from the front line of inspiring sustainability.