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‘Genuine, not just generous’:

developing a tangible green culture

‘Genuine, not just generous’: developing
a tangible green culture

Challenge IBM proposal Business opportunity

Economic, social and regulatory IBM can help businesses define and Implementing environmentally
pressures are driving businesses of all implement more sustainable working sustainable working practices not only
sizes to focus on reducing their carbon practices to achieve green objectives. helps to meet regulatory pressures – it
emissions and increasing Through a combination of consultancy also enables employees to work more
environmental sustainability. The and IT-enabled workplace flexibly, while reducing expenditure on
recent IBM Global CEO Study has transformation, IBM can help empower corporate travel, energy and office
highlighted that the enterprise of the businesses to turn leading practices space. Most important of all, through
future needs to become ‘genuine, not into corporate culture. engagement with the growing body of
just generous’ – viewing sustainability ethical global consumers,
as more than a mere compliance issue environmental sustainability can
or philanthropic gesture. For most provide a platform for growth and new
businesses, this will require a business opportunities.
complete cultural transformation to
realign values and behaviours.

About this paper Ultimately, the critical issue is Identifying the scope for change
This paper will explore some of the sustainable growth. How can Many of the most important
lessons IBM has learned in helping organisations rise to the challenges set contributions to the sustainability
businesses of all sizes transform by an increasingly sophisticated and of a company are made by
their workplace and implement more vocal global class of ethical consumers, encouraging individual employees
sustainable working practices. and provide them with the sustainable to take responsibility for their own
new products and services they environmental impact. However,
Universal drivers demand? before making sweeping changes to
Environmental sustainability is working practices, companies need
becoming a key issue in business. Feeling the pressure to consider the individuals’ roles and
From 2010, most UK businesses Many companies are feeling the force their personality types.
will be obliged to comply with new of these three factors – regulation,
regulations on carbon emissions – social pressures and rising costs – and Individuals’ roles
just one part of a raft of regulatory are eager to put sustainable growth It is important to assess the roles and
measures aimed at putting pressure practices in place. The IBM Global responsibilities of employees and
on businesses to take green issues CEO Study – an annual survey of more assess the ways in which different
seriously. than 1,000 CEOs and public sector groups can realistically contribute.
leaders worldwide – reports that For example:Sales teams and senior
Equally, social pressures are companies are increasingly seeking to managers who regularly travel
increasing. At present, proactive become ‘genuine, not just generous’ on business can make extensive
companies with a clear green in their approach to corporate social contributions – for example, by
agenda are enjoying favourable responsibility (CSR) and green issues. using rail transport instead of
media attention. In the near future, as flying, by choosing a more fuel-
sustainability becomes the norm, the Increasingly, CEOs are coming to efficient company car, and by using
balance may tip in the other direction – realize that CSR should be more videoconferencing technology to
companies that lag behind are likely to than just an outlet for occasional avoid the need to travel at all.
receive negative publicity. Employees philanthropic gestures, and that a bare-
are also becoming more aware of minimum approach to compliance is not • Office-based staff may be able
these issues, and many professionals enough: instead, sustainability should to control lighting, heating and
are beginning to express a preference be an integral part of daily business air conditioning in their working
for working for environmentally aware practice. As a result, 25% of companies environment, can limit the number
companies. are planning to increase investment of documents they print, and
in this area, focusing on developing can ensure that computers are
A third factor is cost. With energy green products and making CSR a more switched off when not in use.
prices rising, and the era of cheap holistic aspect of company processes. • Field workers can contribute in
transportation seemingly at an end, similar ways while they are in the
going green is making more and more However, without expert guidance, office, but their need to travel
financial sense. Businesses operating defining and implementing sustainable (and often transport equipment)
more frugally with regard to heating, growth practices can be a major to off-site locations can make it
lighting, electricity and travel are challenge – involving significant difficult for them to meet the same
increasingly able to cut expenditure changes in corporate culture that may sustainability targets as office-
at the same time as improving their meet with resistance from managers, based workers.
environmental profile. employees, and external partners.

Personality types From theory to practice Developing a tangible green culture
Equally, it can be important to assess Once a company has developed an Drawing on insights from a wide
the personality types of individuals understanding of the people who range of successful cultural change
within the organisation, to gain an work for it and their potential influence programmes within IBM and
understanding of the best ways to on environmental sustainability, new client organisations – as well as
motivate staff to change their working working practices that will contribute lessons learnt from less successful
practices. Broadly, research identifies to the achievement of green objectives programmes – the research team
three main types: should be defined. proposed a practical set of simple
• The egoist type is only concerned IBM Social Science Researchers
with the environment in so far as it have created a methodology and a • Define the key business practices
affects his or her own life. set of tools to assist with the definition • Agree what they really mean, using
• The social altruist type is concerned process. These can help to avoid ‘Right vs. Right’
with the environment for its effects unintended consequences when • Create a business practices
on human society in general. attempting to embed the newly charter
• The biospheric type is concerned defined practices into the business • Use story-based interventions to
with the intrinsic value of the culture – and therefore increase make the business practices come
environment. the chances of acceptance by alive
Different tactics will need to be
employed in each case.

Defining key practices working practices apply in different Some useful heuristics are:
Following discussion about the circumstances, enabling the whole
sustainability targets of the business business to achieve consensus. • Setting a good example
and the relative abilities of different • Getting employees involved
groups of employees to influence Business practices charter • Providing relevant incentives and
those targets, a set of sustainable Defining a viable set of business mandates
working practices can be defined in practices should be a marriage of
the form of rules or guidelines. To take top-down and bottom-up discovery. Setting a good example
an example, a company might decide It may not be possible to gain full IBM research has shown the vital
the following: “Whenever possible, consensus, but understanding importance of visible role models in
meetings between people working different perspectives and contextual achieving cultural change. Leadership
at different locations should be complexities can help create a set of from senior members of the company
conducted via videoconference.” guidelines or a business practices – especially at board level – can help
charter to formalise a mandated set of to demonstrate that sustainability is
‘Right vs. Right’ new working practices. becoming a key part of the corporate
‘Right vs. Right’ is a simple way of identity, and sets an example for other
surfacing different perspectives on Story-based interventions employees. Remember the need to
what an initial definition of a business With the charter in place, leaders be ‘genuine, not just generous’ – since
practice means to different people within the business should help dubious green claims will tend to lead
in different circumstances. ‘Right vs. to make the new practices ‘come to accusations of greenwashing.
Right’ recognises the truth that context alive’ by setting an example to other
is king, and that there are very few employees, giving examples of how For example, IBM helped one
instances where simple statements the practices can be enacted and company’s board members calculate
of ‘what to do when…’ can apply explaining the real effect they have on their carbon footprint and publish the
universally. sustainability targets. information on the corporate intranet
on a weekly basis – showing the rest
Take the example we mentioned Managing cultural transformation of the company that its new working
above: “Whenever possible, meetings Once the new working practices practices were making a genuine
between people working at different have been defined, the process contribution to sustainability without
locations should be conducted via of managing the transformation of any negative impact on business
videoconference.” Some employees business culture can begin. This efficiency.
will regard this as a rule that applies process is about socialising new
to all meetings; others might argue ways of working through a wide range Getting employees involved
that exceptions sometimes need of traditional change management Even with positive role models to
to be made. For instance, in some techniques, as well as employing follow, employees will not necessarily
organisational cultures, a refusal to proven leading practices to encourage engage with sustainability policies
attend face-to-face meetings could be behavioural change, such as on their own. Raising awareness is
considered career-limiting – especially storytelling and appreciative inquiry. important, but simple poster and email
if the invitation comes from a more There are no ‘right’ ways to achieve campaigns tend to be ineffective, or
senior member of staff! this; the key is to match the achieve only temporary results.
interventions with the existing culture
By working through these conflicts, in an acceptable and resonant way. There is clear evidence that cultural
‘Right vs. Right’ enables a more change requires real engagement,
precise definition of how sustainable reinforced through multiple channels.

One approach is to involve employees Other leading practices that can be To keep commitment levels high
by enabling them to contribute and effective in combination are: during the transition period, many
shape environmental policies. IBM companies choose to implement
Jam™ events, where all 380,000 IBM • Appreciative inquiry incentive schemes to encourage
employees are invited to participate in • Storytelling sustainable behaviour in the
a 24- or 48-hour online collaborative • Message maps workplace. Others take the opposite
innovation session, have proven • Hot teams line, choosing to impose sustainability
to be an excellent way to discuss • Social networking systems mandates such as carbon budgets
issues, discover solutions, and – most • Pledge systems or allowances. Often, these two
importantly – give employees a real • Personal carbon budgets policies are combined to create a
sense of engagement with corporate • Leadership role-modelling ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Finding
objectives. • Nudges - default, feedback etc. the right balance between carrot and
stick depends in part on the original
Incentives and mandates assessment of employee personalities
With board-level support and – with egoist, social altruist and
an engaged workforce, the biospheric types responding in a
transformation to sustainable variety of ways to different stimuli.
working practices becomes a viable
proposition – but it can still be a long

Natural England drives its ambitious carbon reduction programme with help
from IBM
Keen to take a lead in reducing its carbon footprint by an ambitious 50% in just three years, Natural England partnered
with IBM to help keep up the pace and momentum. Working with a representative group of stakeholders from Natural
England, IBM developed a comprehensive vision, change roadmap and detailed delivery plan.

In order to win hearts and minds and motivate required changes in behaviour, IBM has helped devise, and is supporting
the implementation of, a tailored staff communication and engagement programme, based on leading practices. This
includes plans for technology-based interactions which will enable everyone at Natural England to contribute and
develop their ideas on carbon reduction.

Staff engagement is critical, and has been encouraged through techniques such as storytelling and appreciative
inquiry, as well as commitment from senior role models. Paul Hinds, Head of Sustainability at Natural England explains:
“I have openly declared that I will use public transport for all my business travel. By explaining to others what drives me
to take that action, how I achieve it and how it has no negative impact on my ability to do my job, I expect to encourage
people to join me.”

Natural England now has a clear way forward and is on target to reduce its carbon footprint by 20% in the first year.

If the enterprise of the future needs IBM Values Jam
to be ‘genuine, not just generous’ in In 2003, IBM ran a Jam event to help the corporation reassess its corporate
order to grow sustainably, as argued values and discover what it means to be an IBMer.
by the IBM Global CEO Study, then the
need for a tangible green culture will The Jam ran for 48 hours, during which time more than 100,000 employees
become an ever-increasing business contributed to the definition of three key values: dedication to every client’s
imperative. success, innovation that matters, and trust and personal responsibility in all
Transformation to a more
environmentally sustainable business The event was held entirely online, leveraging Web 2.0 technologies such
model cannot be achieved overnight as forums and wikis to encourage debate on a number of predefined key
– it requires buy-in from individuals topics.
at all levels of the organisation. Yet
with careful consideration of green Each discussion was facilitated by a key sponsor from the company’s senior
policies, genuine commitment from management – providing positive role models to encourage participation.
key influencers, and the right strategy Real-time analysis and mining tools were used to highlight emerging trends
to encourage the whole business to in the discussion, and distill actionable results.
participate, significant improvements
can be made. The Values Jam helped IBM to redefine its corporate identity from the bottom
up – enabling employees to take part in the process, instead of imposing
As one of the leading proponents of ideas on them from above.
IT and business research, IBM can
offer a broad range of services to help This has made it easier to achieve consensus for changing working
businesses start their transition to a practices to embody the new values. By conducting the event online
more sustainable tomorrow. and avoiding the need for physical meetings, the Jam demonstrated a
sustainable method of helping to change IBM’s culture.
For more information, please
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or service may be used. Any functionally
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All customer examples cited represent how

some customers have used IBM products
and the results they may have achieved.
Actual environmental costs and performance
characteristics will vary depending on individual
customer configurations and conditions.

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© Copyright IBM Corp. 2009. All rights reserved.

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