An Inside Look at the Workday Green Team Leadership Program

All of us have purpose and passion for something. At Workday, 46 people have channeled their purpose and passion into improving the environment, by serving as local leaders for the Workday Green Team at offices across the globe.

Erik Hansen, senior sustainability manager, helped launch and continues to oversee the Workday Green Team program. In this Q&A with Hansen, learn what participants love about the program, why it’s important to appoint local leaders, and what team members around the world are doing in celebration of this year’s Earth Day.

Erik Hansen
Erik Hansen

How did the Workday Green Team come about?

We’ve had an informal green team since the early days of Workday. But in 2015 we launched a formal program structured around having local leaders, which has really helped us scale employee-led sustainability efforts worldwide. We now have two local leaders at 23 of our largest offices globally. At those offices, any employee is welcome to join the Workday Green Team.

What do Workday Green Team local leaders do?

They are an extension of Workday’s sustainability team, and a big part of their role is to inspire their coworkers to get involved. Local leaders roll out sustainability initiatives for their offices based on quarterly themes we’ve identified. For example, this quarter our theme is Earth Day—which falls on April 22—and all 23 offices have developed activities and events during the month in support of Earth Day. Next quarter’s theme is World Oceans Day (officially June 8), followed by car-free week at Workday in the third quarter and waste reduction in the fourth.

What’s unique about the Workday Green Team?

You do see green teams at a lot of companies, but they’re often informal and ad hoc. I think we’ve taken a more structured approach with our local leaders program. We ask them to stay in the role for at least a year, and they’re provided with turnkey programming—promotional materials such as posters and flyers, logos, and sample email content. And, they have a yearly budget they can use to support and execute their programs.

“People want to make an impact. By providing a structured approach, we’re allowing them to make a much bigger impact than if they had to do it all on their own.”

Assuming they meet expectations for the role—which includes rallying coworkers to get involved, rolling out at least three sustainability initiatives or campaigns, and leading ongoing sustainability efforts at their local offices—each local leader receives $500 from Workday to donate toward a charity of their choice, and receives certification in corporate sustainability from an accredited third-party provider.

The Atlanta Green Team helped cut and remove invasive species at the city’s Grant Park.

Is there a term limit for a local leader?

No, there’s no term limit, but people often cycle through and hand the reins over to another Workday Green Team member so that others can share in the leadership experience. But we do have a few local leaders who’ve been in the role since we launched the program in 2015.

Does each office develop its own programs?

Yes, we recognize all of our global offices are uniquely different. What’s important for Workday employees in Singapore to do for Earth Day will be different than what’s important to those in Pleasanton, California. The Workday Green Team local leaders brainstorm with their teams on creative ideas that fit their local office culture.

For example, our office in Frisco, Texas, is hosting a “Green Your Routine” workshop led by the City of Frisco environmental education coordinator to share tips with employees on how to make their lives more sustainable. In Auckland, New Zealand, and in Amsterdam, they’re doing beach clean-up and lunch-and-learn programs. In the Bay Area, we are doing a park clean-up, planting trees with local nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest, and are hosting a speaker from the California Academy of Sciences to present PlanetVision. We’ve already signed up a capacity crowd for our 300-person auditorium in Pleasanton for the event.

Workday London Green Team
The London Green Team built willow structures that will bloom into living playhouses at a school.

Why does someone become a local leader, or join their office’s Workday Green Team?

People want to make an impact. They’re volunteers; they have their day job and a limited amount of time and resources. By providing a structured approach—resources, budget, and guidance—we’re allowing them to make a much bigger impact than if they had to do it all on their own.

What do Workday Green Team local leaders tell you about the experience?

Many have told me it’s one of the most exciting parts of their job at Workday. It’s a personal passion for them, and we want to retain our most talented and passionate individuals. There’s a personal and professional development aspect to it too—they get to manage a budget and lead programming, events, and office-wide communications around Workday Green Team activities.

What else is Workday doing in the area of corporate sustainability?

Overall, our approach towards environmental stewardship is to reduce our carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy in a number of different ways, and work in partnership with our employees and other organizations to support a low-carbon economy. And, we’re proud to deliver a carbon-neutral cloud solution to all of our customers.

Interested in the details around Workday’s sustainability efforts? See our 2017 global impact report, “Sustainability in the Cloud.”