How Small Green Team Can Transform Large Corporations

by | Nov 20, 2013

wong, derek, carbon49Small green teams tasked with transforming large corporations, governments, cities, and neighborhoods face some tough challenges. TD Bank’s three-person green team employed a range of strategies to inject sustainability thinking into 27,000 employees dispersed in 1,300 locations. I find four of their tactics very smart and can be readily adapted by green teams everywhere.

Green teams are often small. The three-person team at TD Bank, the second largest bank in Canada and sixth largest in North America, is not atypical. With limited resources, the team started an environmental employee engagement program in their U.S. operations just over a year ago, reaching out to their 27,000 U.S. employees scattered across 1,300 locations from Maine to Florida. While this is the case of a bank, I think many parts of their approach can be applicable to other organizations. I have highlighted four strategies and tactics from the case study, written by Net Impact and GreenBiz, that can be readily adapted to similar engagement programs in large companies, NGOs, universities, governments, cities and neighborhoods.

Survey, segment, strategize

When engaging a large audience—27,000 employees in TD’s case—the first thing to do is to divide the group into several segments. This way, you can tailor your tactics for each segment. The green team at TD grouped their staff into four segments: all employees, ‘Super Greens’ (more details below), retail workforce, and senior executives. Each of these four segments has their own engagement strategy and tactics.

To divide your audience into different segments, you should generally conduct a survey unless you already know your audience really well (which many think they do but often don’t). Retail staff has different work schedules and communication channels compared to, say, senior executives. Tailor strategies and tactics to each group for bigger impact, e.g. more team-based contests for retail staff, more quantified business cases for senior executives.

‘Super Greens’ are your best troops

‘Super Green’ is a term coined, to my knowledge, by Ogilvy & Mather for a segment of the population with the most positive green attitude. Super Greens use green as their leading decision making factor, ahead of cost, convenience and time. They are the first among their peers to take green actions, leading the way rather than waiting for friends, corporations, or governments to do so. (I have covered this in my article 12 Ways To Turn Green Intentions Into Green Actions and I have often applied this methodology in my engagement projects.)

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