by Cameron Hawkins, MEM/MBA’22
On February 21-22, 175 MBA students from business schools around the country convened to at the second ClimateCAP Summit to discuss the financial implications of climate change. As a speaker at the summit, Bill Weihl, former Director of Sustainability at Facebook, introduced his newly launched non-profit: ClimateVoice.
Weihl emphasized that climate action is not moving quickly enough, and we need to introduce “speed and scale” to our projects in order to have the necessary impact. To accomplish this, companies must engage in public policy to guide the entire economy onto a decarbonization pathway. Two ways Weihl asserts moving forward on speed and scale include a price on carbon and a clean energy mandate, like the Virgina Clean Economy Act (which is currently in the Virginia legislature).
Weihl explained that the mission of ClimateVoice is to “mobilize the voices of the workforce, employees and students, to urge companies to go #AllInOnClimate.” This includes efforts to redefine standards within supply chains, operations, traditional business practices, and politics. ClimateVoice seeks to build a movement by empowering students and employees to step up and push their companies to speak up on climate policy. By signing a pledge, supporters will be informed on local policy initiatives and asked to sign petitions and letters around future public policy initiatives.
How your work affects the world around you is one of the concepts that ClimateVoice seeks to illuminate. This is especially clear to Katie Cech, a ClimateCAP fellow from Darden School of Business and one of the 30 volunteers who has helped launch ClimateVoice. She poses the thought that “you will spend 80,000 – 90,000 hours working in your life. That is the singular biggest investment you are going to make ever. So, make that investment count.” Keeping this in mind, now is the time to “raise your ClimateVoice.”
How can you get involved?
Students and employees can pledge to prioritize, vocalize and mobilize on climate issues online at climatevoice.org. First, prioritize where you are going to work by choosing a company that is all in on climate action. Second, vocalize and speak up to make it clear that you care about this issue and how it impacts your choice of where you choose to work. Third, mobilize to contribute to the collective ClimateVoice and work to grow the climate movement.
It doesn’t have to start when you take a job; climate action begins now. As a student, ask questions about climate risk and climate investment opportunities, helping to push you and your classmates’ thoughts beyond traditional business concepts around the bottom line.
Additionally, once a part of the workforce, employees don’t need to have “sustainability” in their job title to advocate within an organization for climate policy. Weihl recommends, “Do whatever you are good at and love–and speak up. Everyone has a voice, and everyone can choose to use it or not.”
Here are several questions to consider while in school and at work:
- How does climate risk impact financial risk?
- How can I respectfully challenge leadership to consider climate risks?
- What is my strategy to reduce the company’s carbon footprint to reach net zero emissions?