Why I'm Paying My Staff To Strike For The Climate

The saying “business as usual” does not apply to today’s climate emergency.

Our climate is changing before our eyes -- from the ongoing drought to bushfires at the start of Spring. It’s times like this where business leaders need to step up and play a role in the movement for progress on climate change.

This Friday’s climate strike is not your usual strike. It will be the first global moment when school kids and adults will join together to push for government action on climate change. It’s not workers striking against business. It’s all of us coming together to fight for change.

Right now three in every five Australians strongly support action on climate change.

So it won’t be lack of support that stops people from participating in Friday’s strike. It will be work.

From the working parent worried about being fired for striking, to the new grad that’s stuck in a meeting, many people who want to act for the planet won’t because of work-related fears.

But as business leaders, we can fix this. We can show our employees they don’t have to choose between a paycheck and the planet.

READ MORE: Climate Change Making Parents Feel Guilty For Having Kids

We can show our employees they don’t have to choose between a paycheck and the planet. (Image: Getty)

My company has committed to closing its doors on Friday, the day of the Global Climate Strike. Our phones will be down. Our emails will be auto responding. We’ll be on the streets doing some of the most important work we can do -- fighting for the future of our shared planet.

READ MORE: 1200 Businesses Give Workers Time Off To Attend Climate Strike

We’ll be standing arm-in-arm with the thousands of supporters fighting for a planet worth retiring on. This is the mission that led me to build my company in the first place.

So this Friday my message to my staff and all my fellow business leaders is: let’s follow the school students’ lead.

Our company’s actions alone are minuscule compared to what we can do when we unite together. That’s why Australian business leaders have come together as part of the Not Business as Usual campaign.

We are an alliance of Australian and global business leaders pledging to allow our employees to strike and urging our peers to do the same.

Let’s follow the school students’ lead. (Image: Getty)

Already there are more than 2,100 companies that have made a public pledge, including Future Super, Atlassian, Domain, Canva, right down to local businesses like Ralph's Garage and Penrith Yoga Studio.

Each business is supporting its employees who want to strike in different ways. Atlassian is allowing employees to attend the strike using Foundation Leave -- a policy designed to encourage active participation in the community. KeepCup’s team is closing during the strike and marching together with friends and families. Furniture and lifestyle design company Koskela is closing its retail store from 11am.

READ MORE: 'Green Light' To Climate Strike: Victorian Public Servants Allowed To Walk Out

We can play a part in solving one of the greatest challenges our generation is facing and stand in solidarity with young people around the world.

We cannot call ourselves leaders just because we have the title of CEO or Director. Leadership means taking action. Moments like these are a great chance for people with positions of power to exercise that leadership.

With climate change accelerating around us and a huge gap between “climate reality” and “political reality”, this is no time for business as usual.

This Friday, let’s show the school students, our employees our customers and the wider community what leadership really means.