Sustainability & Climate Academy

Invest in people on the way to becoming sustainable 

In our recent article 'Putting people at the heart of sustainability transformations', we highlighted the importance of factoring people into every organisation’s sustainability change agenda, whether as consumers, employees, or broader stakeholders. Recognising the critical role of people runs in parallel to the often more tangible aspects of change, such as business process reengineering and technology improvements. Within organisations, leaders can invest in their people in a number of ways, including through education and skill development. At Deloitte, we have chosen to meet that demand for learning with our Sustainability & Climate Academy.

How does the Academy work?

Through our work with clients looking to improve the sustainability of their businesses, we recognised that there’s no cookie-cutter approach to the provision of learning solutions. To start with, businesses will be at different stages of progress along the sustainability journey. That journey is similar to that of digital and technological maturity, and shown in the graphic below.

The key to maturity in the context of sustainability is to accept that, at some point, the ways of doing business will need to change fundamentally – from a focus on compliance and small-scale sustainability initiatives, to one where sustainability is ingrained with the DNA of the business as it reaches the levels of Becoming and Being sustainable along this journey.

We can perform a maturity scan across the dimensions of Purpose & Strategy, Leadership & Governance, and Capabilities & Enablers, to determine where an organisation has got to on its journey, but organisational maturity isn’t the only diagnostic factor we consider. Our learning solutions are also tailored to the needs of specific roles and career levels, and to the topical and thematic needs of each business within its sector. This means that each organisation’s version of how the Academy works for them is highly bespoke.

Elements of learning

Each organisation will draw upon the Academy in different ways; the elements it will use to build the best suite of learning pathways for its people are modular and discrete, so that they can be combined into a matrix of learning that suit:

  • the organisation’s level of sustainability maturity;
  • the industry; and
  • the specific focus of the business.

These modules combine to create learning ‘tracks’, including our Sustainability Awareness track, which is typically in the form of everyone in the organisation participating in tailored foundation sessions, usually through e-learning. This provides a backdrop and common point of reference, to allow them to understand the importance and the language of sustainability; to know their Net Zero from their ESG.

Most organisations then work to a pattern of top-down learning, starting with a Sustainability Executive Masterclass track, and then subsequent Sustainability for Leaders tracks geared to the needs of each level within the business. The main reason for progressing in this way is to ensure that the revised ethos and vision of the business to incorporate sustainability thinking comes from the top, and that the key early business decisions to support a sustainable transformation are taken by the most senior individuals. In this way, leaders become role models, and ideas become manifested in actions that make a difference to all stakeholders and business outcomes. Leaders are then also well-placed to call out situations where the path to becoming sustainable isn’t going to plan, and ensure corrective steps are taken.

Along the way, many businesses benefit from access to what we call a Specialists’ track, to put the best of sustainable thinking into deeper action and change – both within a technical function such as Finance or HR, and also in the bridges between these technical functions – so taking a multidisciplinary approach to the changes needed in order to meet the overall targets and goals. In these sessions, we can also draw on the insights of industry experts and practitioners in technical areas such as Risk Advisory and Audit – both in the design and the delivery of these and other tracks and component sessions. Academic partners complement our practical, commercial approach, and we also invite specialists in key topics to work as guest speakers with our client learners and facilitate creative sessions with the help of our own agency, Acne, and other creative outfits.

Embedding the learning

We believe that action is one of the best ways to change habits and renew behaviours. So, we supplement each of our learning tracks with additional resources and support, to encourage everyone in the business to apply what they have learned to their everyday role. This means our learning solutions must come in many forms of delivery and media, to cater for the diverse needs of individuals, and to make it easy and accessible for everyone to live up to expectations.

The Academy experience will be different for each person as they read, listen, watch, or participate in the learning journey that’s right for them. One of the hugely popular options within our broad range of learning methods is the use of gamification. The flagship product is a Control Tower Game – a team-based business-decision simulation that typically involves teams of six to seven people. The decisions in the simulation are both financial and non-financial, with the goal of achieving performance outcomes and KPI results that include sustainability objectives alongside business targets. The fun of competing in this game is matched by the learning experience and the takeaways that can be applied in an individual’s role, which are reviewed during the post-game debrief. Here, participants tend to realise that one doesn’t have to see sustainability or business as a trade-off.

If you would like to explore how the Deloitte Sustainability & Climate Academy can support your investment in people on the path to becoming sustainable, please contact Robert van Barlingen.

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