How to Integrate Climate Leadership Into Your Work
October 21, 2022
Nicole Loher is a climate communicator, communications researcher, and adjunct professor at NYU + FIT. Her work sits at the intersection of insights, strategy and emerging technology to help tell stories that advance complex goals, and has received multiple awards, is recognized in press and is featured in the Smithsonian.

t goes without saying that leaders are facing unprecedented pressure today. Not only do today’s leaders have to be excellent at their core functions and miraculously “always on” to execute, but they must also have the chops to integrate pressing global concerns into their work at the drop of a hat. Critical, systemic societal issues like Black Lives Matter and Roe vs. Wade aren’t just part of the cultural zeitgeist anymore, they’re movements leaders must pay attention to, be educated on, and be ready to re-act to.

The climate crisis is arguably one of the biggest crises of our lives. Not only does it loom over us at every given moment, but it is forcing leaders to be proactive and reactive in every area from communications to team leadership. For businesses big and small, engaging in the climate movement is not just important, it’s essential for success. And as far as climate leadership goes, like all other movements, involvement requires more than just words and well wishes.

Good climate leadership requires taking control of situations to facilitate changes that are either foundationally different from processes before or systemically changing processes that could affect processes at scale. Fortunately, if you’re a leader who is interested in integrating climate leadership into your work, there are some steps you can take:

  • Get educated. Climate literacy is critical for being able to navigate the new world of leadership. Do you understand where your company’s goals stack up against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Are you following climate policy closely enough to understand what shifts may impact your business? Take the time to understand the basic fundamentals of the climate crisis and equip yourself with the knowledge, tools and resources that will help you make reliable decisions. To keep up to date with the latest in climate, I recommend the Hothouse // Solutions Newsletter, the How to Save a Planet podcast and the climate reporting from MSNBC’s Cat Clifford. Brownie points: if you want to elevate the climate literacy of your team, check out Project Drawdown’s practical and shareable resource guide for employees who want to engage in climate activism at work.
  • Understand your company’s impact on the environment. Once you know the lingo, recognizing how your company’s operations impact the environment should be much easier. These impacts can be direct, like how much energy your team uses or emissions outputs from commuting to work. These impacts can also be indirect, like supply chain disruptions from extreme weather events. Once you’re able to identify the most climate-intensive areas of your business, you can begin to work towards identifying solutions that are more climate-friendly. If your company isn’t being pressed by consumers for more transparency about progress towards goals through disclosure and reporting now, it’s critical to understand: climate policy and subsequent reporting is coming. There are many services available that specialize in helping companies identify their footprint, like SCS Global.
  • Focus on creating an ecosystem. Coming out of Climate Week NYC in late September, the buzzword of the week was “ecosystem.” The ecosystem that seasoned climate executives kept mentioning is actually just a partnership network that helps fill the gaps where your brand currently can’t. From the above bullet point, if there are areas that are high impact from an environmental or emissions standpoint, and it is too costly from a time or resource perspective, to execute in-house, find a partner who can help you, and vis-à-vis , you can help them. As one executive put it, “The time for competition is over. We need collaboration for faster, more efficient solutions.”

The idea of adding climate leadership can seem daunting and in some ways, nearly impossible, but there has never been a more important time to become a climate leader.



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