The Workplace as a Driver for Social Change

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Deanne Turnbull Loverock, Ingrid Kajzer-Mitchell and Rick Kool photo

In their recently published article, Workplace Culture as a Driver for Social Change: Influencing Employee Pro-Environmental Behaviors, Deanne Turnbull Loverock, Richard Kool and Ingrid Kajzer-Mitchell illustrate how the behaviours we develop at work can have a strong positive impact on our communities. The article references Milgram's early studies in authority to explore if an individual’s employer can be a strong authority within an influential milieu, and uses the lens of Bem's Self-Perception Theory to probe if positive behaviours learned at work change our attitudes and perceptions of ourselves as we do, and become accustomed to doing, these behaviours for 35% of our waking life.  

The article is published as a chapter in the text, Empowering Organizations through Corporate Social Responsibility, which addresses the implementation of businesses’ ethical standards in both emerging and advanced economies, interpreting the social impact of this issue in a global context. The chapter examines the impact employers committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can have on their staff, as measured by the type and extent of Pro-Environmental Behaviors (PEBs) practiced by staff at work and at home. Empowered internal stakeholders self-report that they adopt pro-environmental behaviors at work, find that they become habits, and report that they pass these new behaviors on to their family and members of the community. Tracking the development and diffusion of PEBs demonstrates the efficacy of CSR in action, confirming the workplace as an important leverage point that governments, businesses, and NGOs can use to encourage rapid social change.   

The chapter is based on results from Deanne Turnbull Loverock's master's thesis study, which was done with four Victoria technology companies - AbeBooks, HP Advanced Solutions, Archipelago Marine Research, and Smart Dolphins.  The research was guided and enhanced with the excellent input of Ingrid Kajzer-Mitchell (Thesis Advisor and Associate Faculty, Faculty of Management) and Rick Kool (Program Head, Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication), and financially supported with a Graduate scholarship from SSHRC.

Background Photo Credit: Grist.org