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6 Ways Communicators Can Help Companies Achieve Their Net-Zero Goals

By Florence Mann | December 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

CommunicationsInternal Communications

Following Cop26, CEOs are faced with the challenge of transforming their strategic priorities to fit in with the global green agenda. In fact, about half of executive leaders responsible for guiding sustainability initiatives report the pandemic has increased momentum for environmental change. How will they become a company that can drive Net-Zero goals? How do they change the mindset of employees so they can achieve them? This is where Communicators play a pivotal role.

These cultural tensions come with a price. Our research has found that the stress caused by cultural tensions will have a significant impact on employee performance. And, as you can see from the image below, those stress levels have a real financial impact on our company.



So what can we as Communicators do to help reduce this burden on the company, boost employee performance and drive our CEO’s Net-Zero agenda?

  1. Acknowledge the cultural tensions that have arisen. Employees need to realize there are new and tough choices to make. To offer an example, picture employees at a Formula 1 car manufacturing company who won’t just have to think ‘how can we make this car go faster?’ anymore, but ‘how will we meet the demands of the CEO’s green agenda?’. The cultural tension to recognize is most likely to be ‘Commercial versus Sustainability’.


  1. Help Employees Build Judgement Skills. Once you have acknowledged the cultural tensions that exist, the next step is to help employees overcome them. And the single biggest driver of performance during times of strategic change is judgement. We need to improve employees’ judgment skills in these seemingly contradictory situations so they know what decision to make that will support the company strategy. If we can do this, we can boost performance and minimize the financial impact of change-related stress. For more examples[1] see the Aviva Judgement-Building Game and AMRI’s Strategic Tradeoff Workshop.


  1. Identify who your ‘naysayers’ are and why they’re not engaging with your Net-zero strategy. One of the biggest barriers to implementing a Net-zero strategy is a lack of ‘belief’ in the initiative on the part of employees. Start by working out exactly which obstacle is standing in the way of behavior change. The ‘Behavioral Listening Guide’[2] can be used to uncover what the barriers are to the desired behavior (for example, why employees are not buying into your Social Impact strategy).  That way you can ensure your messaging is targeted and relevant.


  1. Provide opportunities for your leaders to come together in a ‘safe space’ to discuss your Social Impact strategy in more detail. It’s important to have honest discussions where leaders can share what they are skeptical about, but also what the benefits of the new strategy may be, and what this means for their teams. This will make them more comfortable with cascading the Net-zero strategy and contextualizing it for employees. Have a look at the Manager Dialogue Prep Sessions Facilitator’s Guide[3] to learn how to lead a dialogue workshop with managers that will help them process an upcoming change and prepare to discuss the change with their teams.


  1. Help leaders and managers contextualize the goals for employees. The goals will not be achieved if employees do not understand what they need to do differently. Contextualizing the strategy for employees to translate company values into behaviors is crucial to success. Cargill went so far as to have their teams assess the degree to which they behave in the desired ways and what they need to do differently to achieve the company goals: Behavior Change Team Discussions (Cargill)[4].


  1. Identify where your Green Strategy can go hand in hand with commercial goals. When Parsons implemented their social impact strategy, the communications team were pivotal in sourcing feedback from executives, employees and investors to identify any perceived gaps. They also highlighted how the prioritized commitments linked to the broader business goals, tying them to concrete business implications and listing next action steps for the business. With this new approach, Parsons achieved compelling progress against social impact priority areas. The company achieved a 12.9% reduction in emissions from 2019 to 2020.


If you would like to discuss any of these recommendations, and/or your current approaches in more detail, schedule a call with one of our expert advisors here.


[1] These are available to Gartner clients

[2] This is available to Gartner clients

[3] This is available to Gartner clients

[4] This is available to Gartner clients

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