Several of my clients have started asking about how I can help them address climate change in their business or changing supplier or government policies about climate change. Is this likely to be a long term issue that consultants need to know about?
If your clients are asking about it then, by definition,it should be of concern to you. Climate change issues are so pervasive that every consultant should be knowledgeable about the issue and its impact on business. Regardless of what discipline or industry you work in, climate change is already affecting how your clients run their businesses and plan for its future.
If you are in human resources, higher fuel prices and congestion are leading to a growing demand for teleworking, which will require operational policies and procedures, new management skills, and new collaboration technology. If you are in transportation, weather will affect operations. If you are in banking or risk management, increasing storm intensity and frequency will alter your exposure and possible liabilities. If you are in facilities management, consider how your clients will need to alter heating and cooling across their facilities. If you are in hospitality, food prices affected by rising temperatures will affect your overall cost structure. If you specialize in corporate governance, a range of new state, federal and international regulations are coming, knowledge about which you need to be ahead of your clients. As a consultant, your failure to advise clients of potential criminal liabilities they face relative to environmental regulatory compliance will not go over very well. Finally, employees want to work for, and other companies in thesupply chain want to work with, green companies. Tip:
Climate change is a complex issue but don't get caught up in the political debate and forget that the impacts on business have been significant and increasing for more than a decade. Learn about the interrelated impacts on food supplies, water resources, energy costs, risk management, required retraining and corporate strategy and governance. This issue pervades everything a company does and you need to be regularly reading up on its impact on business. For a good fast primer on the issues your clients face from climate change, see a recent Pew Trusts report.
© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA