Say/Do Divide

Are Australia organizations ready to meet net-zero targets, or are they at risk of greenwashing accusations?


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Australian organizations are under increasing pressure to play a role in halting the global climate emergency. In the continued absence of government emissions targets, investors, employees and wider society are looking to the private sector to take proactive action to green their operations.  

There has been no shortage of organizations making promises on environmental sustainability. Yet our research showed a wide gap between what business leaders say they will do on environmental issues and what employees see them do.

While 84% of C-suite leaders say their organization is doing all it can to reduce its impact on climate change, just 49% of employees agree. And while 86% of C-suite leaders say their organization’s environmental practices are in line with industry best practices, just 53% of employees say the same.

Australia has some of the largest perception gaps between employees and C-suite across the 11 markets we surveyed. Notably, the Say/Do Divide is narrowest on the easier environmental steps, such as reducing waste, and widest on the harder activities, such as putting environmental outcomes and profits on an equal footing.


Thinking about your employer and environmental issues, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

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Environmental issues top of mind for employees

Two years after one the worst bushfires crises in recent memory, it is little surprise that environmental issues are front of mind for employees in Australia. In our study, 41% say climate change is the biggest threat to the future of society, while 37% cite pollution. This makes Australian employees some of the most environmentally conscious globally. C-suite leaders must make sure they meet employees’ growing expectations for green action.

Where employees and C-suite leaders do agree is on how rarely senior executives lead by example. Only around one third of both groups believe that those at the top of their organizations match their words with meaningful, measurable and consistent actions.

Organizations must tread carefully. Employees, consumers, investors and the media are increasingly calling out organizations for empty promises. The reputational risks of greenwashing are significant. At the same time, as employees increasingly signal their desire to work for companies with a clear purpose, leaders who fail to match their words with meaningful actions risk significant retention problems.

Percentage saying their senior leaders “lead by example”?



Action Items

  • Audit your Say-Do Divide and drill into the specific areas where employees and leaders are unconvinced that real action is being taken versus areas where improved communication could resolve skepticism.

  • Identify your top team’s sustainable leadership credentials and ability to lead by example. Ensure executives work in lockstep towards your sustainability vision.

  • Make employee engagement and involvement a key component of how you set or refine your sustainability strategy and execute upon it.




Ready to get Started?

We look forward to connecting with you on sustainable leadership.