We cannot stand with the climate crisis!

Millions are participating in demonstrations about the climate crisis. All around the globe, activists are working to bring attention to the gravity of the situation.  The school strike movement started by Greta Thunberg is gaining popularity and attention beyond expected. The climate crisis is yet still seen as a science fiction dystopia.

The previous generation -I’m talking about us- grew up assuming that planet Earth was always going to be a healthy and safe place. As for today’s generation, they grow up deeply concerned for the future. This is the reason the youth is participating in the United Nations summit. I believe they are making a difference. They have carried awareness to an incredibly high point. They know how to make the news and expertly make use of the power of social media.

As planet Earth is dealing with this “small” problem, one of my friends, knowing I was interested in such issues, recently shared with me a note from administration: “We kindly request your care and consideration regarding social media posts about topics of public disturbance such as strike, demonstration, protests, due to their potential of harming our corporate image.”

This generation will not stand for this approach!

It might seem like it would, but it won’t. If you are thinking, what does take up such a position on a topic of such macro-level importance like climate crisis have to do with employee engagement, it is clear you are not aware of and informed about the climate crisis. Not evaluating the potential results of the climate crisis through the lens of the youth directly affects your corporate reputation.

On the 23rd of September TÜSİAD (Turkish Industry and Business Association), one of the most prestigious non-governmental organizations in Turkey,  released an public announcement saying: “the ever-increasing sensitivity and awareness in all parts of the community in an attempt to battle climate change are adding momentum to the  establishment of beneficial policies as well as the swift implementation of the decided roadmaps, both in corporations and in governments. We believe that viable roadmaps built on scientific foundations, ensuring the consistency and integrity between policies, created through collaboration and participation should be decisively implemented and put into practice.”

What do we understand from this? I understand this: standing alongside the climate crisis/strikes/demonstrations and adopting a problem-solving approach is an indicator of a top-tier reputation. Overlooking the sensitivity of the generation you will work with from now on is a shortcut to severing the ties between you.

Your statements matter!

What does the above-mentioned note from administration -which I shortened and censored- say to your new generation employees? Let’s look.

  • We are watching you! We keep tabs on your social media posts. Don’t be fooled by how “democrat” we appear, our eyes and ears are peeled. In short: We do not respect personal rights.
  • Climate crisis is an “anarchist” definition! There is no such crisis. These are games the youth wants to get involved in. In short: We know nothing about such issues.
  • It might be of importance to you but it’s dangerous for us! What significance can your sensitivities ever have next to our corporate reputation? Be grateful you found a job and obey the rules! In short: Whatever we do, we cannot establish employee engagement.

The climate crisis is a symbol

The climate crisis is a symbol, but a very powerful one. We do not have the luxury to underestimate the future of the planet we live and breathe in. Think of the climate as simply a symbol for employee engagement in this piece. Avoiding meddling with things is -generally- the habit of our generation. The dynamics motivating the new generation are completely different. It is a mistake to act cowardly and declare so through a note when you can instead get this generation, who seek meaning and emotion, to connect with the company and each other through such powerful symbols.

We need to change and improve ourselves on these 3 topics:

  1. Employee engagement is bringing together around the same goal and meaning. Even a group made up of people independent from each other in every other facet can work together for meaningful causes such as the climate or environment. This union can become a lifestyle.
  2. As corporations, we need to put forth our values.  We do not have the luxury to say “I do not have such a responsibility” when the whole world is dead set on the 2030 goals for sustainable development. Because this is the responsibility of the new world and you have to decide if you will take part in this world.
  3. Displaying a high-level attitude like in the TÜSİAD example does not damage your reputation but increase it. I would additionally thank you as a businessperson for that sort of explanation.

You may not stand with the climate crisis; I’d say start thinking of where you will stand once the results of the crisis start showing. ☺

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow

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