Environmental engagement is no longer optional for organizations looking to accelerate their sustainability goals. 

Today, eco-friendly efforts once confined to Earth Day, held every April 22, are becoming an everyday priority for businesses around the world. Companies are approaching environmental engagement from all sides, with consistent opportunities for individuals to learn, act and collaborate to drive positive environmental change.

This emphasis on environmental awareness comes as communities around the world are experiencing the consequences of climate change — last year was earth’s warmest on record. As urgency builds to achieve net zero commitments, organizations are working to reduce their carbon emissions, conserve vital resources and minimize waste. Because employee actions contribute to a company’s environmental footprint, individuals can play an important role in helping companies reach their sustainability goals. 

In fact, employees are among the top advocates for sustainability policies and practices, according to the Global Sustainability Barometer, a study released in collaboration between Kyndryl and Microsoft that reveals how organizations can bridge the sustainability-technology divide.

But only half of organizations surveyed indicate they include employee education in their environmental programs. 

Here are three ways companies can encourage environmental awareness during Earth Month — and drive sustainability throughout the year:

1. Prioritize environmental education

As companies pursue their net zero commitments, employees need to understand how their actions connect to organizational goals and how they can make an impact — by reducing business travel, for example, or by working with customers to adopt sustainability solutions. Kyndryl, for instance, is partnering with the Carbon Literacy Trust to certify hundreds of employees as Carbon Literate and equip them with educational tools to reduce their carbon footprints on a personal and organizational level. Kyndryl also offers a Mission Net Zero course that helps employees understand the company’s sustainability goals. Programs like these — that are rooted in climate science and give employees the information they need to enact measurable change — are a vital tool to advance sustainability efforts. 

“Participants in the Carbon Literacy program shared that the training was personally rewarding,” said Carlos Saucedo Maciel, who organized Kyndryl’s first Carbon Literacy program in the Latin America region. “But the training also prepared our employees to better align with our customers and their needs.”

2. Provide opportunities for employees to take action

Providing different ways for individuals to engage with the environment throughout the year can also increase sustainability engagement. Case in point: Kyndryl worked with the Oceanário de Lisboa in Portugal as part of the Seastainability program to offer a course on how climate change is affecting the ocean, and what these shifts mean for the world’s largest ecosystem that acts as a global climate regulator. The training also included a deep dive on plastic pollution — a growing challenge highlighted in this year’s Earth Day theme: “Planet vs. Plastics.” But employees were also encouraged to participate in on-the-ground activities like beach and river cleanups. These interactive opportunities can instill a greater sense of urgency among participants, who experience firsthand how issues discussed in learning sessions impact their immediate communities.

“When we’re aware of the consequences of our actions, we’re motivated to create the change we want to see,” said Sara Pina Coelho, the Kyndryl coordinator of the Seastainability program. “But long-term change isn’t something we can accomplish in one morning; the work doesn’t begin or end on Earth Day.”

3. Embrace partnerships to advance innovative solutions

Along with individual efforts, companies can promote collaboration to spread environmental awareness. This can include employee networks: Kyndryl created the Green Guild so individuals with diverse expertise could work together to develop their green skills and work on sustainability challenges. Collaborative efforts can also extend into communities and involve institutional partners. In one example, Kyndryl has worked with universities to organize hackathons that challenge participants to solve environmental challenges, including applying AI to address plastic pollution in rivers. Through partnering with like-minded collaborators who want to promote sustainability, companies can encourage innovation and build the environmentally-conscious communities that employees increasingly seek.

“The Green Guild is, above all, about learning,” said Raymond du Toit, the Guild’s leader. “We can learn from each other, from our customers, from the industries they represent, and then aim to embed sustainability in everything we do.”