Sustainability needs culture change. Introducing Environmental Champions.

Sustainability is not just about ticking a few boxes by getting your Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) inventory, adopting goals for reduction and mitigation, and accounting in shape. Any transformation towards sustainability also needs culture change.

In launching Mozilla‘s Sustainability Programme, our Environmental Champions are a key part of driving this organisational culture change.

Recruiting, training, and working with a first cohort of Environmental Champions has been a highlight of my job in the last couple of months. I can’t wait to see their initiatives taking root across all parts of Mozilla.

We have 14 passionate and driven individuals in this first cohort. They are critical amplifiers who will nudge each and every one us to incorporate sustainability into everything we do.

What makes people Champions?

“We don’t need hope, we need courage: The courage to change and impact our own decisions.”

This was among the top take-aways of our initial level-setting workshop on climate change science. In kicking off conversations around how to adjust our everyday work at Mozilla to a more sustainability-focused mindset, it was clear that hope won’t get us to where we need to be. This will require boldness and dedication.

Our champions volunteer their time for this effort. All of them have full-time roles and it was important to structure this process so that it is inviting, empowering, and impactful. To me this meant ensuring manager buy-in and securing executive sponsorship to make sure that our champions have the support to grow professionally in their sustainability work.

In the selection of this cohort, we captured the whole breadth of Mozilla: representatives from all departments, spread across regions, including office as well as remote workers, people with different tenure and job levels, and a diversity in roles. Some are involved with our GHG assessment, others are design thinkers, engineers, or programme managers, and yet others will focus on external awareness raising.

Responsibilities and benefits

In a nutshell, we agreed on these conditions:

Environmental Champions are:

  • Engaged through a peer learning platform with monthly meetings for all champions, including occasional conversations with sustainability experts. We currently alternate between four time zones, starting at 8am CEST (UTC+2), CST (UTC+8), EDT (UTC-4), PDT (UTC-7), respectively to equally spread the burden of global working hours.
  • Committed to spend about 2-5h each month supporting sustainability efforts at Mozilla.
  • Committed to participate in at least 1 initiative a year.
  • Committed to regularly share initiatives they are driving or participating in.
  • Dedicated to set positive examples and highlight sustainability as a catalyst of innovation.
  • Set up to provide feedback in their teams/departments, raise questions and draw attention to sustainability considerations.

The Sustainability team:

  • Provides introductory training on climate science and how to incorporate it into our everyday work at Mozilla. Introductory training will be provided at least once a year or as soon as we have a critical mass of new champions joining us on this journey.
  • Commits to inviting champions for initial feedback on new projects, e.g. sustainability policy, input on reports, research to be commissioned.
  • Regularly amplifies progress and successes of champions’ initiatives to wider staff.
  • May offer occasional access to consultants, support for evangelism (speaking, visibility, support for professional development) or other resources, where necessary and to the extent possible.

Curious about their initiatives?

We are just setting out and we already have a range of ambitious, inspiring projects lined up.

Sharmili, our Global Space Planner, is not only gathering necessary information around the impact of our global office spaces, she will also be leading on our reduction targets for real estate and office supplies. She puts it like this: “Reducing our Real Estate Footprint and promoting the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) is as straight-forward as it can be tough in practice. We’ll make it happen either way.”

Ian, a machine learning engineer, is looking at Pocket recommendation guidelines and is keen to see more collections like this Earth Day 2020 one in the future.

Daria, Head of Product Design in Emerging Technologies, says: “There are many opportunities for designers to develop responsible technologies and to bring experiences that prioritize sustainability principles. It’s time we unlocked them.” She is planning to develop and apply a Sustainability Impact Assessment Tool that will be used in decision-making around product design and development.

We’ll also be looking at Firefox performance and web power usage, starting with explorations for how to better measure the impact of our products. DOM engineer, Olli will be stewarding these.

And the behind the scenes editorial support thinking through content, timing, and outreach? That’s Daniel for you.

We’ll be sharing more initiatives and the progress they are all making as we move forward. In the meantime, do join us on our Matrix channel to continue the conversation.

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