As the leader of Northern Playground, I have had an uncertainty that has taken up a lot of space in my brain the last few years.
Before I get to the uncertainty, you need some background info: Northern Playground's mission is to reduce clothing consumption. Why? To contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We want to create a future where you buy a nice pair of pants every three years instead of three OK pairs every year. Simply put, we are going to help you change your habits and reduce your footprint.
Personally, I've changed my habits quite radically over the past few years. I hardly fly anymore, I hardly eat industrial meat, I buy less and less stuff and I live in a well-insulated apartment that I don't renovate. Except for the car (which I rarely use and almost always has passengers), I've made some pretty big adjustments to reduce my own personal emissions. I'm not an angel by any means, but my habits have changed drastically.
Because as the founder of a company with large environmental ambitions, I believe that I must lead the way, also on a personal level. After all, good leadership is about setting a good example. Would NP be trustworthy if I spent my vacation flying around the world?
So, back to my uncertainty.
Should the goal to reduce personal emissions also apply to the rest of the company? Is it OK for an employer to create principles for emissions outside of work for employees? For the board? Maybe even for investors?
Imagine how progressive it would be if we as a team agreed to never fly if taking the train was an option! On the other hand, how destructive would it be if the workplace started dictating how employees should live their lives. They would start calling me Jo(sef) Stalin.
These thoughts have been buzzing around in my head for a long time and I have been uncertain as how to bring them up in the best possible way. I finally realized that the team has chosen to work for NP because of our vision. So, a couple of weeks ago I took the leap and decided to simply tell the truth: I'm very unsure how to talk about this.
I don't really know what I expected, but I feared they would think of it as another moralizing and very annoying input from me. Not only was I relieved, but a bit surprised that the topic didn't create any controversy whatsoever. The conversation that followed wasn't about whether it was right or wrong, but about how we could relate to this realistically. Here are some of the questions and comments:
- Can we measure the reductions we make and talk about it openly with each other?
- Can we make the reductions visual for the rest of the team?
- Dos and don'ts are risky – it must be voluntary for this to work
- It is better to measure emission reduction than total emissions. Total emissions can be stigmatizing
- Can we improve on discussing among ourselves what good measures are?
- Can the company make taking the train instead of flying easier for employees?
- It is important that we "live the brand"
- Can we borrow the climate book you refer to?
We agreed on an immediate measure: At each Monday morning we will share something environmentally smart we've done in the last week. We've already started and it doesn't feel awkward. And this weekend, Maja took her first concrete step by taking the train instead of flying to Copenhagen. 💪
I imagine this is just the beginning of a long and exciting discussion. I am both relieved and proud. At the same time, I'm still a little afraid of the potential negative implications that can arise when the workplace begins to interfere with personal life choices.
In addition, both the board and all 620 co-owners remain. Where to start the discussion with them?
Once in a while, one of the Northern Playground employees sends out a letter giving you an honest look behind the scenes of the company. We believe that transparency is an essential part of being a socially responsible company. This is the twentieth letter. Read the other one´s here. https://www.northernplayground.no/en/behind-the-scenes