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5 insights from our community research 2022

This year we spent a lot of time talking 1-1 to our members and running surveys to better understand your current challenges and needs. In this post, we would like to give back and share the most common issues and suggest ways to overcome them together.

Anna Esakova
Anna Esakova
December 22, 2022 | 6 min
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We learned a lot from these conversations and have spent the last few months addressing the most important challenges raised. So here we want to share the insights with you – as well as our suggestions on how to respond to them and how we can support you. We are very grateful to everyone who shared their thoughts with us, as it allows us to tailor our work to your needs.

Dive in and see how many of the following statements you can relate to! For each challenge, we’ve linked the most relevant modules from our Knowledge Hub to help you to overcome them. If you are not a member yet but do want to read the full content of these modules, simply go through our quick onboarding process

In total, we collected 95 in-depth responses – 37 qualitative interviews each 45+ minutes long, plus 58 detailed written survey responses. For interviews, we mostly used a customer development approach, as our main goal was to understand our members’ needs and wishes. For the most part, we gathered responses from companies with a 100-500 headcount. 

Insights 

1. The commitment is there and the measurable results are beginning to show

Based on several responses, we broadly grouped interviewees by where they’re at on their climate action journey:

  • climate curious (at the very beginning, with no robust commitment yet) – 43%, 

  • climate committed (openly communicated commitment and demonstrated enough dedicated resources/capacities, with the first results already noticeable) – 38%, 

  • climate courageous (going the extra mile and investing a lot of their capacities in sustainability initiatives, having significantly reduced their product footprint, and intending to influence their customers and partners, and/or trying to change industry standards) – 5%, 

  • impact by design (sustainability has been at the core of their business from day one and their main products help to reduce overall emissions/waste in their sector) – 19%

Learning & advice: In 2019, when LFCA was born, our focus was on securing commitments and sharing best practices. A lot has changed since then. Today, we see the need to go far beyond the basics. We are harvesting community knowledge daily and structuring it in our Knowledge Hub. If you are already on track with the first steps on your sustainability journey, consider embedding sustainability in your business model, developing and publishing a climate transition plan, setting an internal price on carbon, and developing an environmental policy

2. It’s no longer just about the footprint of your own operations

We were pleased to see that sphere of influence is in focus already: 65% of our member companies want to influence their employees, 39% want to engage customers, and 33% want to engage partners. We believe that it is especially important for digital companies – who have limited footprints, yet limitless impact potentials – to influence other players in their sector. 

Some questions that we heard in interviews include: How can we use our products/services to reduce overall emissions in our sector? How can we influence our customers to buy more sustainable alternatives? How can we influence our supply chain partners? How can we together shift the policy in our sector?

Learning & advice: there is actually a lot you can do here! And ‘sphere of influence’ actions or business transformation don’t have to wait until after your own reduction actions are in place. You can work on both in parallel. 

Learn how to engage your value chain in climate action, influence policy at the local and national levels, or fund carbon removal projects. In addition, read about pillars 3 and 4 from The 1.5 Degree Business Playbook.

3. Lack of time budget is a key issue

More than 74% of our practitioners work on sustainability for less than 30% of their working time – generally as a volunteer role on top of their regular responsibilities. While 68% of these people have some green team support in place, only 21% of these teams include representatives from departments best placed to tackle emission hotspots. While volunteers are very efficient in taking ‘low-hanging fruit’ actions, they usually don’t have enough resources and decision-making power to take more significant action. 

Learning & advice: Time and capacity are among the most common, first-level challenges experienced by our network. Without resources, change will not happen – so we have created a lot of resources to help you with building the case for moving from volunteer engagement to FT, or with learning how to build a green team that can really make a difference.

4. Changing colleagues' mindsets is complex but essential 

More than 50% of practitioners reported that they feel alone on their climate action journeys: while their colleagues generally are concerned about the crisis, they are not motivated enough or don’t know how they can take action themselves. Often colleagues from other departments lack initiative, do not feel truly responsible, or easily go into defense mode. They also expressed the wish that climate action would be at the front of the minds of C-level leadership in the long term. 

Learning & advice: Changing company culture and shifting colleague mindsets are complex processes, but essential step. No one can transform a company alone. The good news is that hundreds of companies have already moved ahead with this and are willing to share what has worked well for them. Learn how others secure buy-in from their colleagues, educate and engage their employees in climate action, or start by getting on the same page as their leadership team.

5. Peer learning gives the most valuable input that helps move forward

Peer learning is the best source of information and inspiration for 64% of our members. Furthermore, despite an abundance of free online and offline events, some practitioners feel that they have surpassed the point where webinars provide value. Strict time limits and wide audiences do not allow speakers to go deeper into the practicalities of their topics. 

Even companies with the resources to hire consultants can benefit a lot from the direct exchange with their peers: to keep track of what others are doing, to learn what industry initiatives and regulations are coming up, to discover what new technologies have become available, and to be bolder and support one another when times get tough. 

In addition, 38% of our participants are active members of at least one more impact community – i.e. apart from LFCA. 

Learning & advice: This clear value of peer learning inspired us to launch our 17 Mastermind Groups as well as to run our very active, 1400-member community Slack space. To join, go through our quick digital onboarding

Conclusion 

So, how many of our findings felt familiar to you? Which ones resonated the most? Perhaps you’ve managed to tackle some of them already and have tips to share. 

We never stop learning and are always grateful for hearing first-hand experiences. Please reach out to us via anna@lfca.earth if you have something to share – suggestions, recommendations, or questions. 

We’re looking forward to repeating similar research in 2023 and seeing a positive shift!