Business leaders must step up to lead a just transition

Post author image. Jessica Rose
UK businesses need to step up to lead a just transition to a net zero resilient future, says Jessica Rose, Campaign Manager at Business in the Community (BITC).
Jessica Rose looks off camera

With last week’s news that climate commitments could be ditched under a new Tory leadership, business groups, including Business in the Community (BITC), wrote to candidates stressing the need to stick to the UK’s net zero plans.

The most recent IPCC report showed that we know the impact humans are having on global warming and we know what needs to be done to mitigate this. It is political will that stands between climate breakdown and retaining a liveable climate for humanity.

Building climate-related knowledge and expertise, identifying risks and opportunities and integrating sustainability into core business strategies are the places to start.


As the protest signs rightly point out, there’s no business on a dead planet. Extreme weather and rising sea levels, coupled with inequality and the rising cost of living are bad news socially and economically. On the flip side, renewable energy, circular business models and nature restoration can cut costs, cut carbon, create jobs and level up communities.

Regardless of what happens in Number 10, employees, customers and communities want business to act on climate. We are calling on UK businesses to step up to lead a just transition to a net zero, resilient future now.
More than 100 business leaders have so far joined our series of innovation sprints to co-create business route maps for a just transition. They have told us that the foundations of success are ensuring leaders have the confidence and capabilities to create an enabling culture for transformation.

Building climate-related knowledge and expertise, identifying risks and opportunities and integrating sustainability into core business strategies are the places to start.

At our leadership sprint last week, we heard that leaders need to adopt a ‘beginner’s mind’, recognising they don’t have all the answers and co-creating solutions with employees, customers and diverse stakeholders.
Innovative approaches include embracing intergenerational learning and reverse mentoring and creating safe spaces for leaders and their peers to exchange ideas, ask questions and interrogate potential solutions.

Sustainability and HR teams working together are key. Together they can identify the skills the organisation needs and roll out upskilling and reskilling opportunities.

Setting sustainability goals for everyone will embed climate action across the organisation while creating multidisciplinary teams to tackle specific challenges will break down silos and tap into diverse thinking.

Finally, leaders agree that we need to put the people back into our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Applying a human lens to sustainability, recognising what matters to people and linking that to the influence and impact they can have will begin to move climate issues into the mainstream.

There is no time to lose. Business leaders must step up to the challenge and equip themselves and their workforces with the skills they need to steer a fair and inclusive transition.

lEAD THE WAY TO A JUST TRANSITION