In the era of ESG investing and green transitions, climate expertise is high on the corporate agenda. But with the ESG landscape evolving rapidly and the demand for sustainability talent at an all-time high, it’s difficult for companies to build and retain climate knowledge in-house.
In this article, we explore why climate knowledge often fails to stick around within organizations, why it matters, and how companies can become guardians of their own climate information for the long term.
What is climate knowledge management?
Climate knowledge refers to data, assessments, plans, and strategies on organizations’ climate risks and opportunities. Climate knowledge management is the practice of documenting knowledge and procedures, storing them centrally, keeping them up to date, and investing in building and developing them. Many companies struggle to manage climate knowledge and suffer the consequences.
Why doesn’t climate knowledge stay in organizations?
In a field where demand for talent is quickly outpacing supply, job hopping among sustainability professionals can lead to significant turnover. A 2022 report by ManpowerGroup reveals that 76% of employers are hiring in one or more areas across environmental, social, and governance roles.
Since sustainability teams are mostly small, constant turnover can mean that a team looks radically different from one year to the next. The cost of this turnover is not just financial. Without adequate processes and structures in place to ensure institutional continuity, an employee leaving often means that knowledge leaves. Meanwhile, the projects they were working on are frequently abandoned or picked up at a later date, only to require doing much of the same work again.
Beyond employee attrition, companies face similar challenges when engaging external sustainability consultants. Although these engagements may be valuable for the company, the climate knowledge acquired still lives with the ESG consulting firm and is rarely clarified, documented, and distilled within the organization in a way that sets the company up for long-term success.
What is institutional continuity?
Institutional continuity refers to a company’s ability to document and store knowledge and processes, so it can avoid reinventing the wheel each time a new employee starts or a new initiative takes place. Proper institutional continuity means employee turnover does not affect an organization’s progress on its climate goals — and it starts with knowledge management.
Why should organizations prioritize climate knowledge?
Failing to maintain climate knowledge internally opens companies up to significant risk. Beyond the costs of constantly reinventing the wheel and repeating work, companies also risk not complying with voluntary or mandatory disclosure requirements and not being fully prepared for upcoming legislation changes. In failing to provide investors with the climate disclosures they need, companies may also miss out on critical funding. And ultimately, they may fall behind their peers on climate, never enjoying the competitive advantage that demonstrating climate leadership can yield.
How can organizations combat knowledge leakage?
Just like with any assets or resources, climate knowledge needs its own home within an organization. Climate-related exercises, gap analyses, risk assessments, materiality assessments, and so on must be thoroughly documented, centrally stored, and regularly updated.
Proper knowledge management cannot be outsourced. Rather, companies must empower in-house talent to develop and document climate knowledge for the long-term benefit of the organization. To maintain climate knowledge internally, sustainability teams will need buying power to equip themselves with the right climate tools and technologies. They will also need the flexibility to work collaboratively with C-suite leaders and department heads to source the data they need.
In addition to company data, your sustainability team needs to stay up to date with broader industry insights and trends. But with so much happening in the climate space, staying on top of external developments manually is a multi-person job. Once again, an investment in your sustainability team is an investment in your organization. Buying power will give sustainability professionals access to the tools they need to stay up to date on the trends and policies that matter for your organization.
Choose Manifest Climate for knowledge management
Manifest Climate is a climate risk software that helps your team build institutional continuity around climate.
Single source of truth
Instead of relying on legions of consultants and a mess of spreadsheets, Manifest Climate can serve as your organization’s “single source of truth” — the one and only place stakeholders across business lines can access the climate information and tools they need.
Document your work with consultants
If you’re working with climate consultants, Manifest Climate can successfully support both your internal work and engagements with them by providing decision-useful insights driven by software analysis.
Build competence and stay on top of industry trends
Build climate knowledge throughout your organization with access to climate resources. Meanwhile, your sustainability team can stay on top of emerging trends in just 10 minutes a day with Manifest Climate’s top takeaways on business-relevant climate news.
How Manifest Climate can level up your climate response
Climate knowledge management opens doors
Although employee attrition and organizational changes are inevitable, companies can develop, maintain, and grow their internal climate knowledge through robust climate knowledge management practices and tools. This will help companies not only manage climate risk in line with investor expectations, but it will also allow them to capitalize on the opportunities of becoming climate leaders in a new era of business.