Globally, the Bayer Group has been committed to environmental sustainability for many years.
In 2008, the Bayer Group flagged “global climate change as one of the most dominant issues of our age1” and launched its Climate Change Program. Locally, Bayer needed to develop an environmental program that complemented the global objectives, while ‘talking’ to local employees.
OgilvyEarth was engaged to assist Bayer Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) with this challenge.
The B-Green Program launched across both countries on 1 July 2009 with a range of communication vehicles: online, face-to-face, electronic, multi-media and hard copy. The employee competition at launch, B-Green Come Clean, registered 120+ entries over four weeks.
Employee communication continues and is the subject of a rolling 12-month strategy. The sustainability research planned for the end of 2010 will follow up on the results outlined in this report and Bayer expects employee awareness about the environment (and the difference they can each make) to increase.
1 Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG from The Bayer Climate Program publication
To complement Bayer’s global Climate Change Program, Bayer developed a regional approach to environmental sustainability. Environmental targets were set for 2014 against four core areas: water, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and stakeholder adovocacy.
In order to achieve these targets, Bayer needed to gain unified commitment to environmental sustainability from its 850+ employees across the region.
A communication program was critical to building employee support for the program, increasing their awareness of the issues and the active role they needed to play to support Bayer in achieving its targets.
To help develop the strategy and ensure a communication solution based on strong insights, OgilvyEarth conducted quantitative and qualitative research on employee attitudes towards environment sustainability and perceptions of Bayer’s current performance. Results identified:
- 62% felt somewhat or very well engaged with environmental sustainablility compared to 19% answering not at all or not very well. 20% of respondents were neutral. Therefore, there was an opportunity to shift some 38% of employee opinion from negative and neutral to a positive perception.
- 94% believed changing behaviour could improve Bayer’s environmental performance.
- While there was a genuine willingness amongst employees to make a positive difference to environmental sustainability, a large proportion did not know what they could do to help (47%).
- 36% of employees did not believe environmental sustainability was a priority.
- 33% believed that leadership commitment to the cause was low.
The research also identified preferences for receiving information via a broad combination of electronic, hard copy and face-to-face channels.
To gain deeper insights into leadership commitment and communication, one-on-one interviews were conducted with the executive team (CGC). These showed most leaders had not effectively communicated the Global Climate Change program but did believe that as a leadership team they must “walk the environmental talk”. There were mixed views as to whether they were responsible for improving on environmental sustainability, with some believing it was the responsibility of the Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) Team.
- CGC executive team: varying levels of commitment as outlined above. As a team, each member needed to visibly demonstrate the behaviours and actions required to the company.
- Employees: the program needed to engage a diverse workforce, split over 15 sites and divided into four divisions.Demographically, most employees fall into the 30+ age bracket, with 25% working remotely. Role types range from sales to engineers, scientists and office based employees, to manufacturing and production workers.
The strategic approach comprised four key elements: B-Green program evolution, pre-engagement and training with leaders and other key influencers, the launch campaign and ongoing communication.
Key messages with supporting proof points were developed and used as a guide to ensure all communications remained consistent and aligned to Bayer’s commitment.
- Bayer and its employees are already doing some great things to reduce its environmental footprint but realise there is more to do
- Bayer and the CGC take its responsibility to reduce its impact on the environment seriously
- B-Green (Think. Act. Live.) is a new initiative by Bayer ANZ to reduce our environmental impact
- Bayer sees the contribution of every employee as critical to successfully reducing our environmental footprint
1. B-Green program evolution
The B-Green Program was developed to increase awareness of Bayer’s local environmental management plan and targets. It was clear from the research that for this program to be embraced by employees, it needed to not only promote what employees can do at work, but also in their personal lives.
Create the visual identity – B-Green
A workshop with the Communication team and employee focus group helped create a unique brand that would resonate with the Bayer workforce. The visual identity used a raw handwritten font to emphasise a human, personable approach to environmental sustainability. This treatment was distinct from the corporate look and feel of other Bayer branding and communications to provide more cut through.
Develop the B-Green Charter
The B-Green charter, “Think. Act. Live.”, embodies the company’s call to action for all employees:
THINK: Consider the environment in everything we do;
ACT: Take personal responsibility for our actions;
LIVE: Care for the environment as part of every day
The charter emphasised environmental sustainability is not an ‘add on’; but should become embedded in everyday behaviour. The B-Green charter is sensitive to the fact that employees are all at different stages of the behaviour change cycle but each of us can still make a difference.
2. Pre-engagement and training with leaders and key influencers
The credibility of the program relied on leaders demonstrating their commitment, as well as identifying other key influencers throughout the business to assist employees in their efforts to Think, Act and Live B-Green at a grass roots level. This required building the knowledge and skills of the CGC and the Senior Leadership Teams (SLT), as well as providing clearer direction and more support for the EH&S Team and existing Green Team members. Each SLT identified commitments and actions that were communicated to staff via the intranet.
Coaching sessions were conducted with each of these teams, outlining the B-Green Program, targets and commitments, key messages training and clarifing their roles.
All participants were invited to complete an online learning program about sustainable office environments. This was valuable in assisting key influencers understand the environmental impact of their working environment and help them identify possible areas for improvement. The methodology of the module also ensured participants understood the possible negative and positive impacts on employee morale brought about by change.
3. B-Green program launch
Leadership endorsement was key to the launch as well as building on the competitive culture within Bayer (an insight identified in the initial planning sessions).
B-Green Come Clean employee challenge
Over 120 entries to this competition were received. Employees were encouraged to think about their environmental misdeeds (eg long showers), provide a photo of their misdeed and commit to a remedy. Beforehand, participants calculated their environmental footprint and shared how many planets were required to sustain their current lifestyle if everyone lived the same as them. This challenge was launched electronically to ensure remote workers could participate.
The prize was a three-day eco-package to World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island. Divisional winners won $50 vouchers from neco.com.au (online sustainable products).
Entries were showcased on the newly created B-Green intranet with photos and stories.
Posters and a teaser email campaign featuring humorous photos of the CGC and their own misdeeds assisted in initial engagement, while demonstrating the CGC’s personal commitment to environmental sustainability.
Leadership endorsement reinforced through CEO roadshow launch
B-Green was officially launched at a roadshow at each Bayer location throughout ANZ with the Senior Bayer Representative at the time and the incoming Senior Bayer Representative.
The roadshow included a B-Green video and individual guidebooks. These highlighted how small changes make a big difference and included environmental tips. Creatively these pieces were brought to life using the visual identity and featuring key influencers in action. Vox pops with Green Team members highlighted why they believe B-Green is important.
During the roadshow, a prominent display featuring B-Green targets and the Green Team further promoted the initiative. Employees were invited to develop a “Green Wall” of environmental suggestions for Bayer and personal commitments.
4. Ongoing communication
Bayer continues to use existing communication channels to ensure momentum is maintained. This includes:
- Weekly intranet stories with online video tips
- Green Team profiles
- Weekly emails with ‘tips of the week’
- Dedicated Southern Cross newsletter column
- Regular updates to the Country Group Council
- Regular Green Team meetings.
The B-Green intranet
The B-Green Intranet is a significant vehicle for communications with more than 90 pages of information on environmental sustainability:
- Tips for home and work
- 52 videos on how to improve your footprint
- Case studies on Bayer solutions
- Targets and improvements achieved.
The “Sherlock Green” competition drove employees to the B-Green intranet to answer weekly quiz questions.
The B-Green Hub (a transparent “team room” on Lotus Notes) showcases all employee suggestions and tracks progress.
Initial planning and research commenced in October 2008 with the B-Green launch roadshow in September 2009. B-Green is ongoing.
Objectives: Communicate the program, increase employee understanding and involve employees
- More than 95% of roadshow attendees thought that the launch of B-Green (and Bayer’s focus on environmental sustainability) was highly relevant to them
- More than 85% of the respondents were overwhelmingly positive about Bayer’s approach ( “A responsible attitude and fully support it”, “improves Bayer’s reputation”)
- 94% of the roadshow participants found the B-Green DVD relevant to them in their business
- 81% found The Green Wall (a receptacle for their environmental ideas) relevant or highly relevant
Objective: Build Bayer’s corporate reputation amongst employees; Reinforce importance of environmental sustainability to Bayer’s long term future
- 88% found the content made them proud to work for Bayer and confident of the company’s future
Green Hub – employee suggestions
- More than 200 employee suggestions were gathered in the first two months from launch.
- 176 Green Wall suggestions
- Marketing teams are cleaning up databases to reduce mail outs
- Accounts have organised for all employee phone bills to be distributed electronically
- 35 employees joined the Ride to Work day
- Skylights in two warehouses to improve lighting and reduce energy consumption
- Installation of bike racks
When asked whether they learned anything new about environmental sustainability, the answers were along four themes which indicated the communication had been a success.
- Bayer’s commitment to environmental sustainability and our B-Green targets
- Information about the Bayer sites and the company’s lighthouse projects
- Tips to reduce environmental impact (including answers from the roadshow quiz)
- Small changes make a big difference (a key theme of B-Green)
Employee comments support this:
- “Very good and brilliant that Bayer is prepared to be so involved in such an important matter for the sake of future generations.”
- “Love it, I am extremely proud to work for a company that has started to put measures in place to help conserve the environment.”
Objective: Demonstrate leadership commitment and skill key stakeholders
- 100% of the Green Team members agreed that the workshop, Bayer’s sustainability strategy and their role as a champion were important and valuable
- CGC participated in roadshows and featured in collateral (eg B-Green Guidebook)
- CGC agreed to employ a dedicated ‘Environment Officer’ for the first time
Online learning pilot (64 managers and champions):
- 81% wish to undertake further education and consider modules on sustainability to be valuable
- 91% would like to get more involved in Bayer’s sustainability initiatives
- 100% thought the sustainability office challenge would be valuable to all employees
Please refer to Results section.