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Understanding the Distinction: Sustainability Teams and Climate Employee Resource Groups


As concerns over the future of our planet shift to the forefront of global attention, organizations find themselves at a crossroads and many are finally feeling compelled to build a corporate culture around meaningful climate action. But making a conscious shift to a culture focused on climate-positive practices and policies can be time consuming and require strategic oversight; and many organizations find it helpful to have it as a formal function with their organization.

Typically an individual or department is tasked with the goal of overhauling existing opinions, policy and procedures or by utilizing a climate employee resource group (ERG). While both contribute to the mission, they do so with distinct focuses and have varied scopes within the organizational framework. 

Keep reading to learn the difference. 

The Sustainability or ESG Team

Navigate the corporate path to eco-friendly operations  

This team is entrusted with the task of crafting and executing sustainable practice strategies across all facets of the business. Sustainability teams delve deep into identifying areas of environmental impact, setting ambitious sustainability goals, and orchestrating initiatives aimed at reducing the organization’s ecological footprint. 

Typically a strategic role within an organization, sustainability and ESG teams collaborate with departments and stakeholders to integrate sustainability principles into an organization’s operations. More than simply organizing a recycling bin program or planning a community project, this team has a diverse task list which may include, evaluating and improving energy efficiency, waste management practices, overseeing responsible procurement, and adherence to environmental regulations.

By aligning with the organization’s long-term objectives, sustainability and ESG teams effect positive and lasting change that reverberates through the entire corporate structure.

Climate Employee Resource Group (ERG)

Empowering & rewarding your biggest internal advocates 

A complement to the strategic endeavors of the sustainability team, a climate employee resource group, also known as the climate ERG, employs the tactics of grassroots movements to spark positive environmental behaviors at the foundation of the organization. Think of this group as a group of like-minded employees who have voluntarily joined hands to champion climate action within the organization. 

Their purpose is clear: instill a shared sense of accountability for individual and corporate environmental impacts, elevate awareness about climate-related issues, and advocate for the implementation of tangible climate initiatives set by the organization. The core strength of a climate ERG lies in its ability to engage employees at a personal level, fostering a collective commitment to the cause. This group operates as a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and best practices related to climate action. 

By collaborating and coordinating various departments such as sustainability, HR, and communications, the climate ERG amplifies the organization’s climate efforts. By infusing the spirit of change from within, they become catalysts for sustainable practices that transcend the boundaries of their roles. 

In summary.

While the sustainability team and climate ERG serve distinct functions, they are not isolated entities. In the complex landscape of corporate sustainability and climate action, both sustainability teams and climate employee resource groups play pivotal roles. 

The sustainability team operates on a broader and more strategic scale, steering the ship towards a greener horizon by driving long-term sustainability goals. And a climate ERG fuels this journey by focusing on employee engagement, advocacy, and the creation of a culture of climate positive climate action. When they work together the sustainability team lays the groundwork for systematic change, while the climate ERG channels the collective attention of your employees into meaningful action. 

Ready to see how the Climate Action Platform can help foster a culture of positive climate behavior at your organization? Let’s chat!

About the Author

Deb Millar

With over 30 years of experience in account management, project management, sales, marketing, and customer support, Deb excels in transforming organizations and driving positive change. Deb attests that working at Invert offers something different: an entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, passion and a sense of contributing to making the world a better place.