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GLRPPR Sector Resource: Improving Sustainability Skills and Knowledge in the Workplace

Improving Sustainability Skills and Knowledge in the Workplace

This SCI research has developed a new way to understand sustainability, one that has the power to inspire a positive and creative vision for the future. It has explored ways that Tesco staff at all levels (from the checkout to senior management) can enhance their knowledge about sustainability and develop skills to take positive action. The continuing aim of this action research is to embed sustainability in the working culture of Tesco, and to gain insights into how this might be achieved in other organisations. This research started with the recognition that current 'going-gr een' measures are not enough. They slow down environmental damage, but do not provide a positive vision for a change in direction. More scientifically-informed and holistic visions for sustainable communities and organisations are needed, together with the skills to create and realise these visions. In this nine-month research project, we talked with 105 members of staff in Head Offices and Stores to learn from the success of Tesco, and to explore how staff understand and learn to apply sustainability. A clear commitment to sustainability was found within Tesco, but also a lack of clarity about what constitutes sustainable practice, and Tesco's role in achieving this. Whilst there was clear interest in sustainability, analysis of staff feedback suggested that implementing sustainable practices poses challenges in terms of skills and understanding. A pilot learning initiative, informed by a wide range of sources, was developed to address these challenges. This creative work led to a more accessible way of thinking about sustainability as a positive vision for the future. This became known as the 'RoundView: Guidelines for Sustainability'. The RoundView, piloted in this research, supports leadership and vision on the scale necessary for people and businesses to thrive now and into the future. We developed new visual and hands-on tools to make it easier for anyone to understand and apply these ideas, and to explain them to others.


University of Manchester Sustainable Consumption Institute

Resource Type:

Date of Publication:
July 2009

Associated Sectors:


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