planetgroups

FAQ's

Most frequent questions and answers

Who We Are

planetgroups is an initiative started in summer 2020 by a group of climate activists and HR professionals in Germany and the UK. We have founded a UG (“Unternehmergesellschaft”), a Limited Company by German law, in so called “Steward Ownership”, or “Purpose Company”. All of our revenues are used to finance our operations and – if there is profit – reinvested into creating more planetgroups and having more global impact for our planet and the climate. We pursue no political or particular business interest, other than to make all business sustainable.

If management could drive the transformation to a fully sustainable world on their own, they would have already done it. The reason they haven´t is usually not that they do not care about their company or about their planet. They – like any of us – are trapped in a system of established habits, patterns and mutual expectations. In order to change that system, managers need everyone`s support, and sometimes also a little reminder how important that is.

Changing the way we produce, consume and work is everyone’s business, and everyone can contribute to this transformation. Employees are essential to driving change in any organization – they can crowdsource ideas, network across the organization, generate momentum and energy for the shifts needed, facilitate and monitor change, and oftentimes take decisions at their own workplace. Employees want to see the transformation happening, and they have all the resources to help driving it. To succeed on shifting onto a sustainable path, the world needs all of us, including you.

Planetgroups, when referring to the actual groups of employees operating in a company, are funded by their organizations. Some of the work of employees is done in their free time as volunteers, some of it during their working hours, depending on the agreement each employee has with his or her superior.

Our NGO is funded by the organizations whose planetgrups we support, with costs on a subscription basis ranging from 6,000 EUR per year (< 100 employees) to 12,000 EUR per year (> 1,000 employees). This flatrate includes an agreed number of workshops, consulting days, surveys, marketing support, PlaNet access etc… We charge this fee as soon as we have the management team of a company on board. Until then our support is free of charge for employees who want to kick off a planetgroup in their organization.

Our NGO is operating as a Non-For-Profit consultancy which is completely self-sustainable in its operations and does not depend on donations or public support.

Yes. planetgroups is an initiative started in summer 2020 by a group of climate activists and HR professionals in Germany and the UK. We have founded a UG (“Unternehmergesellschaft”), a Limited Company by German law, in so called “Steward Ownership”, or “Purpose Company”. All of our revenues are used to finance our operations and – if there is profit – reinvested into creating more planetgroups and having more global impact for our planet and the climate. We are not allowed to sell or pass on the company other than to future “steward owners” who also work in the NGO and who also can never sell or make a profit out of it. We pursue no political or particular business interest, other than to make all business sustainable.

All of us have left our former jobs to build this NGO, since we believe it is needed in order to create a positive, action oriented and community building platform for the transformation of our economies and societies which we need to see.

Creating a planet positive business world is something we have to, and we can do ourselves. Building and supporting planetgroups across the globe, we want to make sure that a permanent flow of drive, energy, direction and dedication is maintained towards this goal. We want to realign business towards contributing to a better future. Each company has everything to win by engaging in this process. We believe that it will create fundamentally better business cases, and that it will be exciting to be part of it.

Yes we do, although our specific work is of course dependent on the context, people, backgrounds, histories, cultures and industries we operate in.

At the core, we all share the same mission:

To empower, facilitate and support employees, whatever their role, to build sustainability into the heart and business model of their organization.

This mission is based on the belief that together we can create a better future, where successful companies thrive on a healthy planet. The solutions to get there are actually not that complicated, once we have committed ourselves to the journey. We see our job as helping employees and companies to generate and maintain sufficient momentum and to navigate that path.

Accordingly, the communication employed by planetgroups strives to be: target and solution oriented, appreciative, transparent, polite, far sighted, balanced and approachable. Should misunderstandings or disagreements appear, which always happens, we aim to resolve them through our focus on the common goals, active listening, creative compromise, team spirit, and resourcefulness.

Oftentimes managers are not concerned (or too concerned) about sustainability efforts because they believe they are harmful to their “bottom line”, their business success. But the opposite is true.

Planet action will result into higher reputation, brand value and employee satisfaction. It will substantially drive customer retention, the speed of innovation, cost reductions, organizational agility and risk management, as you can see in the chart below

So most of the time it is also a question of finding the right arguments and a good timing for getting management buy-in. On top, when employees request their management to take action in a specific direction, they usually have more influence than they think.

We will support you in getting management’s attention and buy-in for the process, providing you with solid evidence-based arguments and frontrunner examples from your industry that will resonate with your management. We will also make sure to highlight that there is always a starting point somewhere. We don`t need to turn the whole company around in a first step; we can start with solutions that can be developed first in interested pilot divisions, subsidiaries or locations, harvesting the “low handing fruits” first.

Getting Started

Our process is carefully designed with four main targets:

1) To pick you and your organization up exactly where you are.

2) To create a positive, resourceful experience along the way.

3) To establish long-term, sustainable working structures.

4) To achieve tangible results.

In order to achieve those targets walk you through a kick off calls, workshops, a survey, individual consulting and networking opportunities. We provide you with templates, presentations, ideas, structures, benchmarks and best practice examples suited to your industry. We give you access to our networking platform called the PlaNet. And we provide additional energy and motivation by telling the world about your efforts and helping you to market your achievements.

Most of the time, planetgroups will not actually do the sustainability work themselves – they support those who have the specific topic within in their job description. So for example managing or changing contractors in order to reduce the footprint in the supply chain will stay with the procurement department, or heating of offices and production facilities will stay with facility management. But planetgroups will add value, energy, encouragement, ideas and motivation to those who are in charge.

planetgroups may therefore act as motivators, initiators, facilitators, accelerators,

challengers, networkers, multipliers, supporters, organizers, or in many other roles. But they do not become part of the formal decision making structure for any given subject – they draw their power from their purpose, their energy, their communication skills, and from the business rationale behind them. Members of a planetgroup only take part in executing a specific planet project whenever their own job descriptions are concerned.

An important part of our work is to help you mobilize buy-in and support both by management and co-workers. Therefore the minimum number of employees required to start the process is 1. We then help you to take it from there.

Usually there is quite a lot of interest in contributing to a planetgroup, once the concept is better known and understood in a company. Therefore, since there may be more than a few hundred employees who want to be involved in larger companies, we often work with a differentiated structure consisting of a small and executive planet circle (<10), a larger planetgroup (<30), planet projects (can be as many as possible), a broader planet forum (can be as many as possible), and a planet PR team which takes care of the planet communication.

We offer our support to planetgroups on a subscription basis ranging from 6,000 EUR per year (< 100 employees) to 12,000 EUR per year (> 1,000 employees). This flatrate includes an agreed number of workshops, consulting days, surveys, marketing support, PlaNet access etc… We charge this fee as soon as we have the management team of a company on board. Until then our support is free of charge for employees who want to kick off a planetgroup.

Our fee is to be paid on a monthly basis, and companies can end their cooperation with us at any end of the month if they are not happy with our work. But this has never happened so far.

planetgroups are in initiative to drive and support corporate planet action. They are not the planet action themselves.

Establishing a planetgroups structure means to have an additional source of energy, know how, enthusiasm, time, publicity and direction “on premise”, which helps an organization to transform to a truly planet positive business model. Just creating this structure changes nothing – a company has to work with it in order to set targets, define projects, measure results, and report on progress.

Having a planetgroups structure therefore is a very important step to prevent a company from a potential temptation to just “greenwash”, since employees in a planetgroup are actively contributing to and observing the projects in place.

Most of our companies are also awarded our “planet active” label, which demands to a) set ambitious sustainability targets, b) involve employees in the process, and c) transparently report targets, action and results annually on our website.

Yes. Company size does not matter, because all companies can make a difference. Even a small architect`s office can have a huge impacts through the kind of buildings they build, or an electrician can focus of LED Lighting or Photovoltaic and Heat Pumps. Everyone can be part of the solution – in every job.

Yes. Public or Semi-Public Institutions and other Non-For-Profits have a huge role to play in the transformation towards a planet positive economy, and we support planetgroups in their organizations (administrations, schools, museums, theatres, universities, clubs, industry associations, etc..) as well. Usually we charge them the same fee to them which we charge to companies – but if necessary, we can make exceptions for other Non-For-Profits.

The origin of our NGO is in Germany and the UK, so that is where we have the majority of planetgroups right now. However, since we work mainly through zoom and e-mail, we can support a planetgroup in any given country or region, as long as some of the people involved speak English or German. Step by step we will also start local teams of our NGO in other countries and provide more consultancy in other languages. Please contact us if you like to be involved and perhaps open a local planetgroups subsidiary.

We believe that everybody can be part of the solution, in every job. This includes our belief that there is no such thing as good companies (or good people) and bad companies. And no company is truly sustainable yet.

Of course people and companies are more or less aware or active to protect (or exploit) the planet. But none of us is planet positive yet, we all have to work hard to reduce our planet footprint in the future. And we all have created the current system we live in together, and perpetually reinforce it by using and benefitting from it.

So yes, we work with every company that shows a serious interest to contribute to creating a better world. After all, the more carbon intensive a company is operating today, the more it jeopardizes its future in terms of stranded assets, a harmed brand or lost customers, if they are not changing their trajectory. 

Designing the Process

There is no minimum time you need to invest.

The relevant question is: How much time do you want to invest, and what does your professional and personal situation allow for?

Often employees tell us that they have no time left for engaging in a planetgroup. And since we know that our work days are usually filled and our to-do-lists are long, we fully understand that response. However, please read our answers to this concern, it may make you more comfortable:

  • Generally we see planet work as a process: It matters that you are involved, regardless of how much. If you contribute as much as you can, it will be enough and welcome. No reason to feel bad about not having more time than you do. We are human beings, not superheros, and there are limits to what we can deliver. Just like the planet, we have to regenerate.
  • We have designed our processes to be fun and fulfilling. Ideally, you will not experience a planetgroup as something “on top”, but as something different which you enjoy, where you feel a sense of impact, or purpose, of ownership and of community.
  • Developing a fully planet-positive business model is a change process. So yes, initially it means extra work. However, in the medium term we have to stop seeing sustainability as something we do “extra”, but something we embed into our regular business cases. It makes no sense to destroy the planet with our “normal work”, and then try to repair it in our free time. We have to create businesses which don`t destroy it in the first place. Ideally, this will ultimately mean less work in the future, not more.

To make a long story short, you should invest as much time in your planetgroup as you enjoy, and be proud of it. In addition, you should also talk to your direct superior about how much of your work time you are allowed to spend on your planetgroups activities. Your company is benefitting from your planet work in numerous ways (please see the illustration of that below). Your management should ideally understand this and offer you some flexibility to invest a certain portion of your wok hours in this effort.

Everyone can make a difference, regardless of the type of education, the level of seniority or the specific expertise you have. Taking care of the planet is actually a pretty intuitive thing to do.

To support you with your thoughts and efforts, planetgroups facilitate an easy process to identify actions, to implement solutions and to provide guidance on the way. You will learn a lot along the way. On our PlaNet we also give you access to introductions on sustainability, films, articles, statistics, examples of planet action in your specific sector, and the like. However, ultimately this is a learning process for all of us, there is no blueprint for a planet positive business world. The more of us who are on this journey, the faster we will learn together.

If companies have a sustainability department, its role should not be to actually do the sustainability work. It is like the HR department not doing the actual leadership work. Sustainability – like leadership – is a management task. The sustainability department helps, trains, supports, designs frameworks and processes, and monitors targets and results.

In that sense, planetgroups – while they are independent and not integrated into the formal structures of a company – are a natural extended resource to the sustainability department. They should operate together like brothers and sisters in the best possible sense: supporting and enriching each other’s work, helping to embed sustainability into every role and responsibility within the whole organization.

Planetgroups and the sustainability department are allies, since they share the same target. And that`s true for everybody in the company. We all want our organization to be successful with the best possible impact and value for the planet, for its employees, and of course for the customers and their communities, right?

Making it Work

Becoming more sustainable means that we find a way of doing business which could go on forever. Everything we take from the planet must be able to regenerate in the same pace as we use it up. We call that planet neutral, or better even: planet positive. It means giving back to the planet more than what we take from it. It encompasses all the resources we use (Air, Water, Fossils, Soils, Animals, Plants, Wood, Minerals, everything). A planet-positive way of making business can be approached in five ways:

1.         Reducing what we take (Increasing Efficiency and Sharing)

2.         Returning what we took back to nature (Using Organic Materials and Renewables)

3.         Retrieving what we took and using it again (Reusing and Recycling)

4.         Giving back to the planet (Regenerating) more than what we took.

5.         For an interim period, we can also minimize our own planet footprint by reducing what somebody else is taking (Offsetting).

This is the roadmap we go by.

planetgroups can be active in any sector. We work with a model of 4 scopes of emissions, which include Scope 3 (emissions when a product is used and later disposed), and which include also the “non-tangible” impact on the planet (“Scope 0 emission”) e.g. through advertising, consulting work, interaction with media, politics, or industry associations, etc.. With that approach, every company has a huge lever to make a difference for a planet, even those who don`t directly emit substantial amounts of Greenhouse Gases, Resource Use or waste.

Every company is unique and so are the solutions!

We work with you on an ideal set of steps to undertake – based on your industry, company structure and operations, on your ideas, available resources, your specific history and values, and your own personal circumstances and preferences. Examples of planet action could be to install solar panels on the roof, to switch to purchased renewable energy, to improve the menu in the canteen, to redesign your products in order to become more circular, to increase investments into projects with social and environmental benefits, to support nature regeneration or Carbon Offsetting schemes, to reduce office waste, to address travel policies, to include your customers in the recycling and upcycling process, to apply sustainability criteria when making purchasing agreements with suppliers and to select environmentally friendly contractors, and many more. The solutions you develop depend on your context. We help you to run the process.

This also depends on your industry. Generally we work with a four square grid along the lines “small effect – large effect” and “easy to implement – difficult to implement”. This grid usually helps a lot to define priorities. Generally speaking, changes along energy, food, travel, supplier management, offsetting, marketing, use of real estate, and waste are usually easier to implement. Changes along the core product design and lifecycle have the highest impact, but of course take longer to implement.

On the contrary. If done well, sustainability is the best business case there ever was. There are numerous studies that prove how planet action will result into higher reputation, brand value and employee satisfaction. It will substantially drive customer retention, the speed of innovation, cost reductions, organizational agility and risk management. A great number of high carbon technologies, for example, will not be competitive any more within the next 10 years, as can be seen from the graph below created by the consultancy SYSTEMIQ. Companies which still rely heavily on carbon intensive technologies in 2030 will become the next Nokias, Kodaks or Yahoos of that decade.

Our approach with planetgroups is highly business driven. We aim to build sustainability into the core of the business case, making sure that it makes the company more successful, not more burdened.

We see cooperation as crucial for our work.

Our collaboration platform the PlaNet is unique since it allows to connect corporate climate and sustainability work depending on industry, solution, and job family / function with each other. So you can search for possible activities compared to other companies in your industry, you can search for specific solutions (e.g. plastic replacement or energy reduction), and you can search for solutions based on your position (as an HR person, as a Supply Chain Manager, what can I do?).

Each group on our PlaNet has one or more moderators, and these moderators usually have a professional role in that field also in other networks and platforms. Through these people we make sure that our work is connected with the sustainability world outside.

Scaling the Results

Companies benefit from their planet action in terms of costs, innovation, employee engagement, customer retention, supply chain resilience and brand development. On top, their action creates and scales a momentum for even more planet action by their suppliers and competitors, making it easier for politics and industry associations to follow suit and also raise the bar when it comes to sustainability in general. Hence, marketing planet action serves both the companies, and the transformation of the system as such.

As the NGO supporting planetgroups and their companies, we therefore go to great lengths to spread the word of any planet action we witness. We do this through our Social Media Accounts, through our Website and our collaboration platform the PlaNet, we do it through press and media work, and we do it by individually sharing and consulting on benchmark activities and best practice results which we hear about. All of that surely only takes place once and if the companies involved agree to us doing so.

The more we grow, the more “real” jobs we will have available, which we will of course advertise on our website and in our newsletter. In addition, if you want to start a subsidiary of our NGO in your country, please get in touch; we will be happy to discuss whether this makes sense, and how we would go about.

We also have several volunteer roles available. If you are interested, please contact us and we will be happy to sign you up.

In order to grow our activities and scale our outreach, we will create a Social Media and Customer Service Team which will then be supported by volunteers around the world. Here your tasks can be: to create a facebook or instagram or comparable channel for your country and translate and share our stories about our activities and achievements there, to schedule “First Contact” calls with people who want to know more about planetgroups and how we operate, to send information about us and give interviews to local newspapers or radio stations in your region, to create inspiring videos and tutorials about our work and successes, to approach celebrities and relevant experts whether they want to support our work, to actively approach people in your network whether they want to start a planetgroup in their organization, and many more. We are currently building up an onboarding and monitoring process for these volunteer activities and look forward to your support.

A crucial part of our work is to create and sustain momentum, to guide through processes, to inspire and motivate, to facilitate communication and decision making, and to establish working structures for our planetgroups in their organizations. We achieve this by accompanying our planetgroups with state of the art methodology when it comes to process facilitation, event design and hosting practices, drawing from approaches like Design Thinking, SCRUM, Theory U, the Art of Hosting, Working Out Loud, Appreciative Enquiry, Work that Reconnects, and many others.

In order to continuously develop these methodologies, we will put all our tools and practices online and welcome trainers, coaches, and facilitators who are active in change, leadership, mediation and communication of any sort to join in. If you are active in any of these fields and want to be involved, please let us know how you can contribute. We will share tools, approaches, materials, exercises, feedback and experiences with each other in order to leverage our impact and outreach further.

Our planetgroups ambassador program is designed for individuals who would like to take an active role in supporting the planetgroups mission. We welcome professionals from all sectors and business environments who share our passion for a planet positive business world and our solution-oriented approach to getting there.

If you like to become a planetgroups ambassador, we would appreciate your help in any or all of the following three key areas:

1.         Spreading the word: Help us raise planetgroups’ profile and promote our mission via social media and your professional and personal networks

2.         Connecting and introducing:  Help us reach the right people in the right companies.

3.         Giving Feedback & Support: Help us get better at what we do and how we do it through offering your knowledge, expertise and ideas.

If you are interested in this opportunity to be part of our exciting journey, while at the same time building relationships and networks with like-minded people, we look forward to hearing from you.

Last but not the least, in our collaboration platform called the PlaNet, we have groups and subgroups for every industry, solution, and job family / function, as can be seen in the picture below:

Every subgroup is administered by one or more moderators. Their task is

a) To prepare and regularly update some foundation to the topic, e.g. articles, videos, data or the like, accessible in the platform.

b) To regularly (every week or so) send some updates into the community, stirring discussions and informing members about new trends and challenges.

c) To answer or forward some of the questions arriving in the platform – at least if nobody else is answering.

d) To authorize uploads from other platform members and make sure they are saved within the right structure.

e) To forward news and achievements from within your group to the planetgroups marketing team for further PR, outreach and inspiration to other planetgroups and companies.

This is an ideal role if you have content to share and are interested in establishing networks and contacts with companies, e.g. as a consultant or an expert on the matter with a professional interest in networking and exchange.

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