Implementing sustainability goals is a significant and fundamental change for many organisations. Government targets and legislation demonstrate that sustainability is now a mainstream business priority, and fundamental to business resilience in the 21st century across all sectors. Our discussions with clients reveal that while most appreciate the need for change, the scale of the challenge and the required organisational change create a form of paralysis to effective delivery.
In this session we seek to explore:
1. The scale of the challenge ahead: Arup’s research into implementing organisation sustainability goals
We will share our research into the organisational barriers and opportunities to implementing sustainability goals. Our research has included literature reviews, surveys, interviews, and piloting and testing of theoretical concepts onto live client projects. We will begin by exploring what we understand as the scale of the challenge in tackling climate change, and why business psychologists have a critical role to play. We believe that technical solutions to climate change alone will not enable the scale of progression required; we must galvanise people and mobilise organisations to drive and implement a fundamental shift in how we approach work. We will share our key findings from the research about the blockers and enablers involved in this transition, including our review on the maturity of organisations to implement sustainability both now and in the future.
2. The role of business psychology
Organisational Psychology research has shown that engagement in sustainable behaviours in the workplace typically stem from attitudes, motivation, social norms, and interactions between individuals and groups/leaders. In addition, sustainability interventions require a holistic understanding of the interactions between elements. Therefore, knowledge of behaviour change theories, and systems-level change concepts such as socio-technical systems theory and systems leadership theory are essential to the success of achieving organisation wide sustainability goals.
The psychology of change management can unlock the key to changing employee behaviours by providing a shared purpose to believe in, reinforcing the ‘right’ behaviours, upskilling members, and providing role models to showcase behaviours. These mechanisms can provide a psychologically safe culture cultivating innovation and encouraging engagement in sustainability. Arup will share the theoretical foundations to their approach in supporting organisations implement sustainability goals.
3. Turning concept into practice
To encapsulate the complex interaction between behaviour change, organisation factors, and sustainable outcomes we have developed an Organisation Maturity Diagnostic Framework that focuses on organisational systems to foster positive sustainability outcomes. In the session we will explain the maturity diagnostic dimensions and how they relate to one another, through an interactive session with the audience.
We are in the process of testing and piloting our Framework with 5 organisations across different sectors. In this section of the session, we will explain common findings from both our research and client trials to consider how the theoretical can be translated to the practical.
4. Where next: future opportunities for business psychology
At the end of the session, we will ask attendees to reflect on the future opportunities for business psychology in supporting organisations to drive more sustainable outcomes.
1. Increased understanding on the critical role of business psychology in influencing sustainability outcomes, raising awareness of how our profession can support the challenges involved with tackling climate change
2. Inspiration on how the audience can support their own organisation or clients to make a more positive impact towards the planet, with practical tips and guidance for how to do so
3. Recognition of the complexity involved with implementing sustainability, requiring a systems thinking lens and holistic consideration of what’s driving behaviours