Addressing climate change and winning CEO’s over to a more sustainable climate policy has never been more challenging than now. Despite the difficult economic circumstances that companies are currently facing, connectUS was able to persuade 14 companies to sign up for the CEO4Climate initiative.
“CEO4Climate” is a campaign of the business association swisscleantech, who is committed to a climate-friendly economy. The initiative offers leaders of the Swiss economy a platform to advocate an effective energy and climate policy in order to strengthen Switzerland as a location for business and innovation. For over two months, this initiative has been actively supported by the delegation members of connectUS.
In a period when most CEO’s were fully focused on the challenges of the current medical, social and economic crisis, it was very demanding to establish contact with CEO’s who might have the capacity to consider this initiative. As a result, the student’s effort had a limited effect. Nonetheless, connectUS managed to collect 14 new signatures for the CEO4Climate campaign.
The delegation members reported various challenges regarding the CEO4Climate challenge. The very first hurdle was to actually understand the initiative and its background. Swisscleantech put different claims forward to the parliament. Undoubtedly, the understanding of this content is an essential element for the students to be successful. Another challenge that the students had to overcome, was to find the appropriate selling arguments, which can be used to convince potential CEO’s to sign the initiative. Even establishing contact with potential CEO’s was not that easy as expected. Many times, the person in charge could not be reached or the students were put off.
Knowing some basics about negotiation skills and collecting consent, the students already possessed some prior knowledge on how to approach the CEO’s. However, during the initiative additional, creative approaches, to convince CEO’s, emerged. For instance, some students made use of their personal network and solely contacted people they knew or who had valuable contacts. Whereas others tried to get in touch with companies they thought would be interested and would participate.
Generally, the approached companies and their CEO’s take a favorable view of this initiative. Given the fact that the climate policy covers the entire economy, companies can make a positive contribution. However, according to the students, only a small fraction really had the time to get familiar with the initiative.
To conclude, it was an instructive experience for the students. They were able to learn and apply negotiation techniques, work closely in a team, apply organizational skills and finally contribute to a better climate policy in Switzerland.