Crowdsourcing Sustainability

How to make your company go all in on climate with Bill Weihl

April 15, 2021 Season 1 Episode 10
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
How to make your company go all in on climate with Bill Weihl
Chapters
0:00
Intro & Bill's climate journey
5:32
Answering the "What can I do?" question & why we need companies to use their influence for strong climate policies
18:45
Employees have the power to push companies to speak up on public policy. There is recent precedent with LGBTQ rights
20:30
Who are the most obstructive trade associations?
23:20
Fossil fuel lobby outspending climate action groups 10 to 1
24:50
Other ways companies can influence public policy
27:26
The big 5 in tech need to step up & what we want companies to say
31:30
Corporate hypocrisy and complicity vs. what they can do instead
35:40
What can employees do? Advice for starting to having these conversations and begin organizing internally
42:28
The constructive case employees can make for climate action
46:10
What does ClimateVoice do with signatures and how do you help employees?
50:00
A very small amount of employees can make a big difference
59:15
Bill's call to action
1:02:24
Outro
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
How to make your company go all in on climate with Bill Weihl
Apr 15, 2021 Season 1 Episode 10

In this interview with Bill Weihl we discuss how to “mobilize the voice of the workforce to urge companies to go “all in” on climate, both in business practices and policy advocacy.”

Bill was in charge of sustainability at Google and Facebook starting back in 2006. He recently founded ClimateVoice to help employees everywhere exercise their power for corporate climate action.

Useful links from ClimateVoice:
https://climatevoice.org/
https://climatevoice.org/resources/
https://1in5for1point5.org/#sign
https://twitter.com/ClimateVoiceOrg

Useful links from Crowdsourcing Sustainability:
Sign up for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter: https://crowdsourcing-sustainability.ck.page/c34a46ed01
Website: https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org

Support the show (https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this interview with Bill Weihl we discuss how to “mobilize the voice of the workforce to urge companies to go “all in” on climate, both in business practices and policy advocacy.”

Bill was in charge of sustainability at Google and Facebook starting back in 2006. He recently founded ClimateVoice to help employees everywhere exercise their power for corporate climate action.

Useful links from ClimateVoice:
https://climatevoice.org/
https://climatevoice.org/resources/
https://1in5for1point5.org/#sign
https://twitter.com/ClimateVoiceOrg

Useful links from Crowdsourcing Sustainability:
Sign up for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter: https://crowdsourcing-sustainability.ck.page/c34a46ed01
Website: https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org

Support the show (https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org/donate/)

Today we are lucky enough to be with Bill Weihl the founder and executive director of climate voice which is on a mission to mobilize the voice of the workforce to urge companies to go all in on climate both in business practices and policy advocacy before climate voice bill is the green energy czar at google starting back in 2006 and most recently he spent six years at facebook as the director of sustainability he's now moved from an insider pioneering corporate sustainability at these individual organizations to an outsider helping to make a lot of companies level up at the same time he's doing this by educating and activating students and employees everywhere because employees have the power to make their companies move faster and start using their massive influence especially in the public policy realm for climate action so bill welcome to the show 

thanks ryan delighted to be here awesome so we're gonna dive into what a company should be doing on climate in order to be considered a true climate leader and also get into what listeners employees and students can do to help make their companies or future companies leaders in this space but i'd like to start by taking a step back and hearing more about your climate journey and especially how it started so when did you decide to work on climate and why i really decided to work on it in 2004 so i'd been hearing about climate as an issue for i don't know probably at least five maybe 10 years at that point i'm sure i i'm guessing i heard about it in the late 80s early 90s but i don't think it hit me as oh my god this is a crisis by 2004 i was reading enough about it and seeing you know technical articles and articles in the popular press talking about where things could go over 20 30 50 years that you know it seemed it seemed clear this was something that we needed to address and it would be a hell of a lot easier to address sooner rather than later and so so yeah 2004 was when i i sort of had that real aha moment of now's the time to shift what i was working on where i was working and really focus not just in my personal life but professionally on climate and could you briefly walk us through the rest of your journey so how did you get to where you are today um well i started my career in computer science i was on the faculty at mit for about 10 years moved out west on sabbatical and uh nev never moved back east for a whole bunch of reasons spent i guess a little over 10 years almost 11 years in a couple different companies doing you know technology core technology work and that got us to 2004 where um i was thinking about leaving the job i was in and uh really realized that that you know what was occupying all the spare cycles in my brain when i was thinking about stuff it wasn't some hard problem at work it was my family and friends and it was climate um and so i spent about a year on a uh you know sort of self-imposed sabbatical slash walkabout and um uh talked to 150 plus people in that year you know basically using my network and getting connected to other people and um not something that came naturally to me but but you know something i got better and better at as the year went on um and really trying to explore you know okay i'm not a climate scientist i'm not a physicist i'm not a material scientist i'm a computer scientist with you know at that point i'd had a fair amount of business experience i was chief technology officer at akamai the last two and a half years i was there so i had both the technology side and really exposure to the business side so i spent a year exploring what could i do um i'm not gonna go invent you know new solar technology not unless i went back to school and got a you know an advanced degree in material science and physics and whatever so what could what could i do and i was lucky enough then after a little more than a year to land a job at google as you know with the the charter to figure out what what google can do about climate um and i was given pretty broad um latitude to explore things and you know i had to justify them i had to convince people they were a good idea but it wasn't oh you know go do this one narrow thing about climate was we want to do something really big and meaningful nice go figure it out which was awesome that autonomy must have been really really nice yeah so very cool and kind of building off that question that you just brought up what can i do i think well you know more and more people are starting to ask this on climate and to sort of transition into your work today at climate voice can you tell us a bit more about what climate voice does and how it works and how you can help people answer that question yeah well and and let me let me try to put it in context because i think a lot of people are asking exactly that question what can i do and there are a lot of people giving answers and i i would not claim to have the answer climate is a really big hard complicated problem in a lot of ways um uh but i think you know one answer to what can i do is it's not one thing you know lots of people have their favorite thing it's you know eat less meat or be vegan travel less or don't travel or you know go live in the woods or and a lot of those things when people have one thing they're very passionate about often involve sacrifice don't do things and in the end there may well be lifestyle changes we all need to make there's no question but the core of the climate problem is that modern society is built on energy we use energy to do all sorts of things to keep ourselves safe and comfortable in our houses to move ourselves and things around to make things and most of the energy we use today is based on it comes from burning fossil fuels and burning fossil fuels creates all kinds of pollution and and when it comes to climate the biggest one is carbon dioxide um and so we we need to change that and that that is it's not the only thing we need to do to address climate change but it is one of the biggest you know we use fossil fuels for transportation for heating and for cooling you know to generate electricity for electricity broadly we use them in industrial processes of all sorts all of that you know basically we need to either stop burning fossil fuels or find a way to capture the co2 that's created when we burn them and sequester it somewhere

and that's not to a large extent just a matter of individual choices right it's great when people can make those individual choices and i've made lots of them in my own life i got solar on my house right here in san francisco even with the you know iconic san francisco fog it does pretty well most of the year um uh we now have we only have one car at this point it's an electric car um uh you know so we're in we're doing other things to gradually make our our life less energy intensive and less carbon intensive and i would encourage everyone who can to do that wherever they can you know minimizing your own impact is a is a really good thing but there are a lot of things that individuals don't have control over if you use electricity and maybe you live in an apartment building or a condo and you don't you don't have control over the roof or the roof you know you live in a tall apartment building the roof is too small for solar to cover you know the the electricity needs of the building um you're buying your electricity from the local utility in a lot of places you get what they sell and that's it you don't have options um and so you can you know push your utility to allow you to buy solar wind through them or you could push for a policy change that basically requires the utility over time to move its entire generating capacity to clean energy transportation it's great when people like i have buy electric cars or lease electric cars um or ride bicycles more or walk more but a lot of people live in places where walking or biking are not great options so we need to change development patterns that's not just individual choices that's public policy we need to you know to make electric vehicles accessible to many more people we need to build out charging infrastructure some of that is a lot of that will be private investment but it's going to take public policy to make it happen at the speed we need that so i like to think of the things you can do as being you know sort of concentric circles of influence there's your own life that you can control and make choices in and you can do a lot there depending on how much money you have and and you know what the what the options are where you live and then there's the city or town or neighborhood you live and work in you can potentially drive changes there by voting and speaking up at city council or or whatever town meetings then there's the state you live in there's the country you live in um people have the ability to drive change at all of those levels they're all important yeah so climate voice what we our starting point was realizing that and and we're not alone in this that that lots of individuals and lots of companies are doing great things on climate they're using clean energy they're they are you know switching to zero emissions vehicles um they're doing things in their own lives in the company's operations to reduce their impact companies are even looking at their supply chains so they're pushing their suppliers to use queen energy in factories or or whatever which is great so we're making lots of progress on climate we're just making it far too slowly and yeah you know so some people you know there's a lot of debate should we frame it as we're winning or we're losing we're winning but not fast enough um i mean i was trained as a scientist and engineer so i get a little bit frustrated at those discussions because in the end what matters is what are we doing and what do we need to do differently we are winning but we're winning too slowly and with climate that really is kind of the same as losing if we keep winning slowly we're in deep trouble to win faster in addition to all the great things that individual people and companies are doing and the innovations that companies and researchers and universities are are developing we need to move faster we need public policy that drives the whole market much faster in toward the zero carbon future that that you know science says we need and to get that public policy that is now not so much a technical problem of what's the right what's the right technology or set of technologies we should be using them it really is a political problem it's not even so much a question what's the right public policy there are many policies that can drive the changes we need and often advocates get really locked into battles about you know i prefer this policy versus this one and i think those are really important debates but the problem we have today is we have too literal policy in too few places and the reason is fundamentally that the fossil fuel industry and their allies the various think tanks and trade groups has spent the last 40 50 years amassing enormous influence in our political process and using it and using it to stymie progress on climate policy so what we are trying to do with climate voices is you you know and i think you you summarize it well we we want major influential companies to go all in on climate and that means yes decarbonize your operations go net zero set a science-based target go 100 clean energy clean up your supply chain and use your influence to help counter the negative influence of the fossil fuel industry because when you sit on the sidelines you're letting them win and that means we're getting public policy too slowly so it's great if you're net zero but if you then sit back and say we did our part you know it's too bad the rest of society can't get there we all have a problem so we need companies if they really care about climate to step up and use their influence in the public policy process to help counter the negative influence of of the fossil fuel industry yeah that is awesome i think

you know at least to my mind so much of the attention goes to cleaning up your own operations cleaning up your own supply chain you get more and more companies doing the science-based targets initiative which is fantastic and we need all of those i'm very excited about what you're doing because it's that next level it shows the next piece of the puzzle which is the public policy and it's this arena that has kind of been neglected uh in the climate sphere as far as corporations go in terms of being on the right side of it trying to advocate for climate positive policies to to match up against this massive fossil fuel industry um could you please get into a little bit more of the details there of i guess who these associations are or trade groups so employees can figure out oh like my company is a part of this trade group i need to flag this or so i guess i wanted to learn more about who the the worst offenders are and then also just kind of high level i know you just started a campaign for the big five in tech trying to get them to to put more money into this uh and i know just because i've been scouring your amazing resources quick shout out folks should absolutely check out the resources on climatevoice.org because it's a gold mine

but i saw that currently the pro climate people are being outspent by the fossil fuel lobby ten to one when it comes to advocating and i'm wondering like the the campaign you have is asking the big five in tech to put one out of every five lobbying dollars towards pro climate policies and i'm wondering does that level the playing field does that make pro-climate outweigh the fossil fuel industry like where does that take us and how much yeah well so a couple things first in terms of what people can do you know i sort of described as concentric circles one yeah one place of influence that most people don't think about is their workplace so as an employee if you have a job or as a student if you someday will be looking for a job

for the last year lots of companies maybe weren't paying that much attention or didn't care quite as much about what their employees thought because they were struggling to stay alive as the economy creator during covet things are beginning to open up hopefully things actually continue to open up and we don't have a really horrible fourth wave that causes another major shutdown but when companies are competing for talent they care what their employees think they care what their potential employees think and so you have the opportunity to influence what companies do in their operations you can put they haven't set a science-based target you can push them to do that you can push them to buy point clean energy and you can push them to actually speak up and weigh in on public policy and we have seen this happen in other arenas we were really inspired by what happened over the last decade around lgbt rights in this country where you know 10 years ago we had hundreds of companies who were very progressive in their own operations and silent on public policy and over the course of two or three years really companies moved from near silence on public policy to being very vocal on marriage equality vocal against the religious freedom restoration act in indiana which was discriminating against gay people against the bathroom bill in north carolina which discriminated against trans people and a whole bunch of other especially state level bills and policies companies helped really shift they weren't the only factor but they were a major factor in shifting the in the end the decisions on public policy we think the same thing can happen on climate but we need to motivate companies to really step up and what motivated companies on lgbt rights was their employees so that's what we are hoping to to you know the movement we are working to create right now around um around climate is to get employees to really understand how important the policy piece is how important the voice their companies and influencer companies have can be and how much of a problem it is the companies are mostly silent so to your point about you know who are the trade associations so there's a group called influence map if you go to i think it's influence map.org they've done great research over the last half dozen years on how companies and trade associations are using or failing to use their influence on climate in the public policy process both in influencing the public debate and public discussions of you know what's in the media around climate but also then really influencing the end through lobbying through campaign contributions through all the ways in which companies affect public policy affect you know influencing the outcomes in public policy debates and you know their research shows pretty clearly that the major fossil fuel companies especially the big ones in this country the oil majors as they're called have been a really obstructive force on climate policy

for certainly the last decade and a half and that several major trade associations the oil industry trade associations like the american petroleum institute have been very closely aligned with the the you know fossil fuel industry but also big cross-sector trade associations like the u.s chamber of commerce have been mostly obstructionist on climate policy the national association of manufacturers which covers manufacturing broadly but across a wide range of sectors has also been a pretty negative obstructive force on climate according to their research and lots of companies not just fossil fuel companies are members of the us chamber or members of the national association of manufacturers and they might not know what those organizations are doing in their name on climate or they know but are saying silent or they speak up but they don't push all that hard but in the end those organizations speak on the be on behalf of thousands tens of thousands of companies and they have a lot of influence politically they put a lot into campaign contributions to their political action committees

they lobby extensively they spend enormous amounts of money on lobbying so they have influence they use it and when companies who are members let those organizations speak on their behalf they are contributing to the problem the stat you cited an academic a researcher named robert bruhl has been looking at the how much money has been spent on lobbying on climate by various sectors and the 10 to 1 stat was i think from the period 2000 to 2016 where the fossil fuel industry spent 10x what the pro climate action advocates spent and that means you know companies like solar companies wind companies and so on but also ngos like the sierra club or greenpeace or whoever all pro climate advocacy was one-tenth of what the fossil fuel company spent in that period and i don't remember the exact number but it was a lot of money um i mean we're not talking about you know hundreds of thousands or millions we're talking about i think hundreds of millions of dollars in that period so clearly money matters um and it matters in the form of campaign contributions it matters in the form of you know do your lobbyists show up on capitol hill or in sacramento or in boston or in columbus ohio you know in in state capitals and do they show up and push hard on lawmakers to enact really meaningful science-based climate policies um uh it matters you know companies have influence beyond just money and those horns you know when a company chooses to locate a new factory or data center or major warehouse and distribution center in a state in a congress congressperson's district that's a real benefit to that state in that congress person they get economic development the congressperson can say look i brought jobs to my district so they can use that decision point you know i'm choosing where to locate a new facility to extract all sorts of concessions you might remember amazon search for their second headquarters hq2 which is this you know beauty contest where you know dozens maybe hundreds of municipalities submitted proposals bids to try to attract them um offering tax breaks and infrastructure upgrades all sorts of things to get amazon to dump 25 050 000 jobs in their uh you know their city their town amazon could have said we want to locate in a place where the the political leadership is committed to real meaningful science aligned climate action and we're going to give strong preference to cities and states where that's true they didn't right they wanted places that had good transportation because they were going to um you know create a lot of jobs and they didn't want their employees to be stuck in you know several hour hour commutes which is important for climate but they were focused on the things that mattered to them not on the things that matter to the whole region and to society as a whole that to my mind is a real missed opportunity and so it's all these companies as they grow as they decide which offices to expand which data centers and factories to expand would where to put new facilities they could be using that influence to shift where those regions are on climate both where what they're doing locally in those regions but also what they're elected representatives are doing in washington for the country as a whole right yeah in terms of money i think over the last several years big tech you know the five big u.s tech companies apple amazon google slash alphabet facebook and microsoft they've been spending collectively according to the federal lobbying disclosures at the federal level they've been spending um collectively among the five of them um i think about 60 to 70 million dollars a year um it went up a bit in the last year um we'll see what happens over the next couple years but what they've been spending on lobbying has been growing um and it has been mostly focused on things that really matter to their core business so taxes immigration trade intellectual property anti-trust these days i think for several of them take technology policy broadly it has mostly not been on things that are really important for climb with a few exceptions they all use lots of electricity so they are all increasingly weighing in on electricity related policies including ones that will help green the grid as a whole and that's awesome nice but we need them weighing in on climate policy broadly um you know things that will clean up the entire transportation system that will clean up buildings that will clean up industry and agriculture um every century it's there are a lot of policies that you know as i said before it's not there's one policy they should all advocate for there there are there's lots of debate about the details of the policies but we we have a good understanding of what we need to do to decarbonize you know 60 to 80 percent of what needs to be done and we have a good idea of what kinds of policies could drive that what we need is for companies to stand up and say this really matters to us it's going to affect you know who we make campaign contributions to it's going to affect where we choose to invest to grow our business and create jobs and economic activity and we want elected officials in all those regions to commit to real science-based policy that will drive decarbonization at the speed and scale that's needed and ideally that will really be focused on justice and equity because in the end you know sort of technocratic approach that doesn't address some of the historical inequities and environmental injustices and that perpetuates them um uh i think will be problematic both morally but also politically it's going to be really hard to to muster the the political coalition needs to pass things if we don't meet the concerns of people who really care about those issues yeah and it's just the right thing to do so there's so much in there i feel like i could have you on for three hours here and learn a ton there's a couple things that i just want to reiterate it sounds like what is missing at most organizations is kind of this next level of thinking of looking at all of your policy and investment decisions through this climate lens and these things that you typically typically wouldn't think of as being climate related but it's such a pervasive issue and touches so many different things that pretty much everything is climate related um and so i'm wondering if you are an employee at a company and say you just use this example because it i just read it in the last week or two uh it was before that but emily atkin has this awesome newsletter called heated and she called out yeah it's amazing she's fantastic um she called out companies that were donating to the senate uh candidates in georgia back in january and was pointing out this discrepancy between you know the one that comes to mind is microsoft who's this supposed climate leader and they are doing a lot of fantastic stuff but they were donating two campaigns of people who had no interest in moving climate policy forward and most likely were going to try to prevent anything from happening or even move it backward and so say you're an employee who discovers something like that you work at microsoft you're like okay that's that's pretty messed up how do you like what advice do you have for folks to start having these conversations with co-workers and also start organizing internally just to really you know change the direction of the ship here and become the the best climate leader that that company can be what are the what are the first steps in strategy or advice like what do you think of well well first i think that's a great example and i think emily adkin has has been doing a great job of shining a spotlight on what's called hypocrisy it is at some level and yeah and it's it's complicity it may be um unintentional hypocrisy but once it's been called out when companies continue to say no you know we you know they say we donate to both sides be you know we don't agree with everything that any trade group or part of or anyone we donate to uh uh does but we feel it's important to contribute to be part of it and so on at a certain point that really is complicity and i think on climate on voting rights we've seen this discussion recently around the georgia um georgia seems to keep coming up the you know voting uh restrictions that have been passed in georgia where several companies since they passed have now come out made really strong statements um it would have been nice if they had made those statements both publicly and privately while the bills were being debated and helped stop them from passing but as far as i can tell they didn't they certainly didn't you know threaten to you know microsoft i think is expanding in georgia building a major presence they could have gone to georgia and said you know if you restrict voting rights in this way we will take our business elsewhere i mean coca-cola and delta are headquartered there their major presence you know it seems unlikely they would just up and leave um so they're making strong statements now it would have been nice that they made them before um but again they do have influence they haven't used it like they really mean it yet and that's what we need on climate as well we need companies you put it well every major decision they're making they should be looking at not just through a financial lens for their own bottom line but through climate lens and not just the climate ones for their own operations but for society

and they are mostly not doing that and then they need to lobby like they mean it so they need you know if if a an elected official votes the wrong way there has to be consequences stop donating to them you know stop expanding in their district or their state and mostly companies are not doing that yet today so then what can employees do it i think one answer is it depends um maybe that's my former academic self coming out um uh you know it depends on the company and the culture and how much they tolerate um what's called dissent or activism or or employees raising issues and pushing for the company to to be better i like to you know i encourage employees to frame it not as you know sort of finger wagging telling your employee you your employer you suck but rather you know constructively assuming you like your job and you like the company and you like the work it's doing you think that broadway is a good place to work and it's doing good in the world part of your job should be making it a better company and i think approaching it from that frame is a great way to then talk about it with other employees you know your peers around the company um but also with executives and i think the you know the first place to start is you know when you well when we're all back in offices someday um you know when you're having lunch or when you're you know on zoom or whatever your favorite platform is or maybe even just the phone um catching up with colleagues talking about what you think about what's going on in your lives and raise the issue you know hey have you have you seen what's happening in washington right now around climate and it seems like our our company is kind of sitting on the side once what do you guys think you know here's what i think and start talking about raising the issue helping educate your fellow employees that's really step one because i think you said before most people and i think you're right most people when they think about what companies should do on climate they think about clean up your own backyard right um and and too much when they think about what they can or should do they think about cleaning up their own backyard put solar in your house really important not enough so it's you know i i've described it's climate improv right it's it's it's yes and so yes do what you can personally and what your company can do itself and look to all the ways in which you can influence the the systemic uh rules and policies that drive where the entire economy goes but we need to educate people to get them out of this individualistic mindset and thinking about what needs to happen systemically what needs to change and what influence do they and their company have on that so step one is talk to other people you know step two i would say so you know you mentioned the earlier the campaign we just launched so right right now we're very beginning of april we launch a campaign focus on the big five u.s tech companies the campaign's called one in five we're asking them to devote this year because this is a really pivotal year for climate policy in the u.s devote one in five of their lobbying dollars to climate aimed at a just transition that keeps us below 1.5 degrees of warming and that really means elevating climate to be one of their top advocacy policy priorities if they're not putting money into it it's not a priority if it's a priority they're putting money into it and money is the thing everyone knows how to measure um so that's why we're focused on that but you know we also want them to use whatever other forms of influence they have right where are you going to locate that next office data center factory whatever um right so um uh so i think one of the things that that employees can do then is go sign the petition at one and five four one point five dot org or google one and five you know go to climatevoice.org there's a big link to the one five petition yeah i could i could link to that in the show notes they can also sign the climate voice pledge which is client voice is as an organization is focused broadly on getting companies to step up the one and five campaign is focused on big tech um but we're looking for signatures for the one and five petition and the broader client voice pledge um we particularly want uh people who work in tech to sign the position and students who you know are are people that the companies might want to hire someday to sign but but we want everybody to sign i mean the more we have their employees and the students they want to hire signing i think that that will um uh have particular influence on the companies but also the total number of signatures really matters and it'll matter in terms of how much attention we can get in the press which will affect the companies and so on so sign the damn petition um and spread the word you know among your colleagues if you're if you're employed somewhere among your fellow students if you're a student whichever you are you know you've got friends who are students but you're working if you've got friends who are employees somewhere but your student spread the word through social media through one-on-one or group interactions through email whatever whatever you know spread the word

and talk about this with you know if you're at a company with fellow employees and think about in the context of your company what are ways in which you could then raise it with executives who might be in a decision-making uh position does your company have you know sort of town halls all hands where employees have the opportunity to ask questions if so raise questions again i would recommend doing it as constructively as possible some people tend to be more combative than antagonistic and if that's your style you know whatever works for you but we're not asking people to put their jobs at risk we're asking them to help make their employers better and one of the arguments that i think people can make is look this is where the world is going we have to address climate we all know that um this is going to happen the question is when and the longer we wait the more painful it's going to be for everybody both in terms of the the negative consequences of climate change but also in terms of how um radical the policies how stringent the policies are going to need to be to get us where we need to go because the longer we wait the harder that it's going to be the the steeper the decarbonization path we need to be on and that's going to make policies um uh you know sort of harder for the transition is going to be harder so sooner is better young people i think more and more are on board with it is time to really for us all to go all in on climate and address us and so companies that continue to kind of play both sides and say yeah we care but we're going to be silent on this or we're going to say some nice things but not really lobby like we mean it i think they will increasingly find over the next couple years that it gets harder to hire because there are some companies in tech microsoft honestly has been you know according to the influence map report microsoft and apple are kind of leading relative to the other big tech companies but microsoft as you pointed out you know they donated to climate obstructionists in georgia if the those folks had won nothing on climate was going to go through the senate so they might have been lobbying for some things but those contributions if if they actually allowed those candidates to win those those runoffs would have doomed climate legislation at the national level for the next at least two maybe four years so they're playing both sides that has to stop you can't play both sides on voting rights and i think at this point you can't play both sides on climate and young people i think will increasingly be less satisfied with companies that do that um and they do have alternatives you know so apple i think has been a little less vocal than than microsoft but um has not done as much negative stuff so you know i think that's why they're really up there kind of neck and neck salesforce in the tech sector has been increasingly vocal and much increasingly clear about how vital climate and climate policy is um outside the tech sector you've got companies like unilever or mars which have been very very vocal and they're both enormous companies smaller companies like patagonia and seventh generation and ben and jerry's also have been uh increasingly vocal so there are places that young people could go find jobs that aren't say the big five tech companies or some other big companies but are much better on climate policy it's time for all those companies if they really care about climate to go all in and speak up and lobby like they like they mean it

yeah so i have a more tactical question for you maybe getting into the weeds a little here let's say someone loves what they're hearing right now and they go to your site they sign the pledge they share it with their co-workers more people are signing this pledge at this company what then does climate voice do with these signatures and are you working with the employees at all like where does it go so we have been in touch for several months with a few employees at each of the big tech companies partly because we wanted their feedback on you know is this something that would that resonates with you would you be is it something you'd be willing to evangelize with your fellow employees is it something you think could could move the executives so one thing people can do then is is work to you know as i said talk with other employees find a core group that is willing to then speak up internally

you can also reach out to us and we can give you information that you can then use internally to help make the case

with with executives what we're doing with the signatures we are talking to executives the sustainability leaders the leaders of the public policy and government affairs teams um you know we've been talking to them for a couple of months you're telling them that this campaign is coming giving them the chance to start to think about how they might want to shift even before we started the campaign but we will be in touch with them at least every few weeks letting know how many signatures you know what what we are hearing on the outside and it's not just us there are now at least a dozen other major ngos who all want to see companies and are calling very clearly for companies to step up on public policy we are the main one right now that is really trying to organize employees and students to start to to push and encourage companies to do that others are you know you could say others are more providing the carrots and and the encouragement and the um you know if you want to engage as a company here's a group that works with companies that can help you go lobby together with other companies we're providing more of the you know called the sticks and the pressure that other organizations are not we will not release people's names publicly so we're not going to tell apple you know here's the list of 2 000 employees who signed um the only reason for apple apple would want or need those names would be to then retaliate so they don't need names they need numbers and then we are encouraging people as they feel comfortable to speak up internally

to you know let executives know this matters yeah awesome uh so my next question might be a little premature i'm not totally sure i know you guys are very new still i think you started i know you started a year ago february correct and and the 105 campaign launched on march 31st of this year

very fresh um so my question is is around

you know do you measure how many people join in and speak up at a corporation before they end up taking action and i'm you know i'm curious about this kind of stemming from the 3.5 rule if you've heard of that um and so i guess just in your experience does that seem applicable for driving change at the corporate level like that rule applies to the national level is it that small amount of people that can really make a corporation move and take big steps in the right direction um we don't have great data on that yet i would say still early yeah what we observed in the case of for example the battles in um indiana around referral or in north carolina around the bathroom bill is that a very small number of employees spoke up and were quite vocal and it was clear there were you know a medium number of other employees who cared um either because they were also lgbt or they were allies but there were you know a couple dozen maybe who were or even less at least that i saw inside inside facebook and talking to folks at other companies i think it was somewhere there wasn't many who raised the issue and executives i think understood that there was a larger group of employees who cared and could be activated and they also understood that the you know sort of the zeitgeist had shifted among young people and that for people in college who the the company might want to be hiring over the next few years that this issue was just a kind of no-brainer civil rights issue and that continuing to sit on the sidelines would be seen as an easily painted as being complicit and being on the wrong side not just neutral but really on the wrong side and they didn't want to take the risk that it would make you know retention somewhat harder because some people would get sufficiently upset to leave but will also make hiring a lot potentially a lot harder so it didn't take many people to make that case i think with climate it is it remains to be seen how many is it you know a couple dozen really speaking up and a couple dozen people in a in a corporation with a hundred thousand employees is a really small percentage right or is it a thousand or five thousand we don't know um i don't think it requires half the employees i think that it is it is clear based on uh you know sort of polling of the public and and especially when you break it out by age range it's clear that younger people who represent the talent pool these companies draw from for their growth they really care about climate and i think as we help get them educated on the role policy and the role of companies in policy that it's going to be increasingly clear to them that companies who are silent or mostly signed or being complicit and that's not okay and so i think um you know if we get a few dozen employees speaking up and a few hundred or a few thousand sign signing the petition that is enough to really begin to move the companies and we'll have to then see what happens you know how much do they step up how much do they speak up how much pressure do we need to keep putting on them to you know continue to step up more and more this is as i said a really pivotal year compared to the last several years that you know a door has opened in washington for national policy it's on all of us who care about it to do everything we can to kick that door open as wide as we can and help get as much through as we can biden is before you know part one of his major infrastructure plan it's got a lot of great stuff in there on climate it's not enough but we're not going to get everything done at once it's a lot and it is a really good good step we need companies the big tech companies and others to now really stand up and help make those policies happen this year and it it is going to be a battle in congress especially in the that it is i'm i'm hopeful that uh that climate voice really helps push these companies to you know maybe tip the scale a little bit more than it otherwise would and get some more stuff passed um so i know we're coming up on an hour here and this has been absolutely amazing so far thank you for sharing all this uh all these insights with us i just have a handful of wrap-up questions before you go um so the first is what book or books do you recommend or gift to people the most that can be you know about climate about this stuff or just in general the one i've been reading i'm not quite through it but i've been reading lately is michael mann's most recent book the new climate war it is awesome and i think you know too much in the climate world we danced around the the war the battle that's been going on and the other side knows it's in a war it's acting like it's in a war um in our side you know too much talks about you know we want bipartisanship and we want this and that and we don't we're not fighting or not enough of this are and so i would you know people want to understand what's been going on for years and how the the rhetoric of those who are trying to to preserve the status quo how it has shifted from flat out denial to what michael mann calls inactivism um they're pushing delay and inaction now and they're doing a range of things that that tend to create inaction and so i i would say that's number one on my list if you want to understand what the root of the problem is um that i would start there nice that's awesome that is that is on my list i haven't started it yet but he is he is good um next question is if listeners want to learn more or follow your work where do you recommend they go and and what should they do um climatevoice.org um you know thank you for you know for your your praise uh you know we've got a bunch of resources on there now including some you know sort of tip sheets and guides for employees and for students what they can do to start to make clear to either the executives or the company where they work or places that they might be interviewing or exploring make clear that they really care and that this is something that will ultimately affect where they choose to work we have a policy guide for business leaders which

um really tries to make the case about why companies need to step up in lobby so it's really about the whole theory of change if you will and um and how they can exercise their influence on policy and then the kinds of policies not the single silver silver bullet policy but the kinds of policies they need to um lobby on we're in the process of updating and revising that policy guide now should be out probably by earth day um but you know the the old version is great the new version will be a little more timely and better but either way um so in terms of learning about what we're doing i'd go to climatevoice.org um 1-541.5.org i'll let you put the link on the website so i don't explain where the numerals are where it's all spelled out um for the one in five campaign um that's the thing that is really most urgent and timely right now i encourage people to go there sign the sign the petition and spread the word awesome awesome any other calls to action i know you just gave us a few there but are there any others that you want yeah i think i would just you know reiterate um spread the word talk to your friends talk to your colleagues make clear that you know this is such a pivotal year and policy really matters and so you need to vote but we're not in an election right now so now it's about what levers of influence do any of you have to influence the policy outcomes and that's writing and calling elected representatives but it is also pushing your employer or potential employer if you're a student to use its influence and companies have a lot of influence um it's time for them to to step up yeah yeah i'm gonna tie something together here that you you mentioned earlier thinking about individual action and seeing it as these concentric circles of going from beyond your personal footprint and you know doing stuff around your house to thinking of how you can change the system and whether that be at your workplace or in your state country whatever it may be and it seems to me that these concentric circles also apply to corporations looking beyond just cleaning up their own backyard and now looking at whatever what what the other levers of influence are that they have and that they're not exercising right now and starting to look at this very holistically yeah in fact that that's one of the ways that when i was at facebook for example that we really thought about and i was you know that there's our own operations there's our supply chain there's uh you know local you know cities or towns where we're based and then there are the broader you know sort of communities and global community um uh it was hard from the inside to get the company to really engage all the you know go all the way in on those outer circles and that's something that i think that employees and students can help really push companies to do there are hundreds of companies now setting science-based targets and buying clean energy and cleaning up those inner circles and their supply chain even but we we don't have time for another five or ten years of them slowly inching their way outward you know this year and next yeah we need them to just go all in 100 percent well awesome any final messages for folks or key takeaways you want to share before we this is the year and there's a lot of there are a lot of reasons to hope but we can't just sit back and and wait for it to happen so i you know dig in speak up push your company and let's let's make it happen amazing on that note thanks so much bill for coming on the show and all the important work that you and the team are doing over at climate voice
 my pleasure 
thank you.

Intro & Bill's climate journey
Answering the "What can I do?" question & why we need companies to use their influence for strong climate policies
Employees have the power to push companies to speak up on public policy. There is recent precedent with LGBTQ rights
Who are the most obstructive trade associations?
Fossil fuel lobby outspending climate action groups 10 to 1
Other ways companies can influence public policy
The big 5 in tech need to step up & what we want companies to say
Corporate hypocrisy and complicity vs. what they can do instead
What can employees do? Advice for starting to having these conversations and begin organizing internally
The constructive case employees can make for climate action
What does ClimateVoice do with signatures and how do you help employees?
A very small amount of employees can make a big difference
Bill's call to action
Outro