The [Cool Choices] program was an opportunity to engage with employees in a different way, and to understand people’s interests and what engages them. It provided insights we’re using in team meetings and other trainings.
USA Today called Wisconsin’s Waukesha County “ultra-red,” noting that it produced more Republican votes per capita than any comparable county in the nation.
You might assume Waukesha County isn’t the sort of place where business leaders would embrace a program promoting environmentally sustainable actions.
And you’d be wrong.
Cool Choices Partnered with Waukesha County Entities for a Community-Wide Sustainability Engagement Program
In 2017 Cool Choices partnered with four local chambers of commerce, two workforce development agencies, and a local marketing firm in Waukesha County to implement a county-wide community sustainability program that engaged more than 500 people from 30+ businesses and reduced carbon emissions by more than 1,000 metric tons.
Common Ground: Workforce Shortages Require Attracting and Retaining Quality Employees
We did it by starting with common ground. Business leaders in Waukesha County are concerned about workforce shortages—attracting and retaining employees is a big issue. Cool Choices offered data that millennials prefer employers with a commitment to the environment, and that all workers prefer workplaces where they can contribute to environmental goals. Local leaders liked the idea of helping companies engage employees around sustainability, addressing workforce issues while also helping businesses save money in their operations.
Waukesha County Cool Choices Program
Our communications in Waukesha County weren’t that different than communications elsewhere. When recruiting folks we emphasize the potential for fun, not partisan talking points. That strategy enables us to achieve high participation rates in all kinds of places, including Waukesha County.
The participants in the Waukesha County program were diverse—some of them had strong environmental opinions but others were indifferent to the issue of climate change. In our post-program analysis we saw that those who were indifferent to climate change adopted more new practices that yielded emission reductions—which means we got bigger results from folks who might not have participated had we framed the program in more partisan terms.
In all of this Cool Choices was mostly behind the scenes. We offered a sustainability engagement program that made it easy for chambers to recruit businesses and those businesses to engage their employees. We ensured all of our local partners had real-time access to data and the ideas and photos generated from the program.
We’ve helped local leaders in Waukesha County see the benefits of engaging people around sustainability, and we’ve facilitated the generation of more than 1,500 local ideas about future opportunities. We defer, though, to locals to lead the way forward with these insights.
Are you a city, county, or even state looking to implement a community sustainability program to advance aggressive sustainability goals? Contact us.