How Josh Stephens champions climate change action in the workplace
Josh Stephens grew up in Newcastle, Australia, before moving to Sydney for a graduate position. While studying, he spent time in the startup world, where Josh discovered a love for the fast moving, dynamic environment, full of potential, opportunity and growth. This led him to join the team at InDebted in 2021 as a Project Manager, where his current focus is on InDebted’s acquired business in the USA, working to digitalise and integrate the team into our global operations. And because he’s so good at what he does, Josh is also currently leading the launch of a major client into the US market.
Josh is also an active member of his community, advocating for financial wellbeing, diversity & inclusion and sustainable environmental practices. Josh is a Facilitator at Climate for Change, an NFP, whose mission is to create the social climate for effective action on climate change. We caught up with him to learn more about his work with Climate for Change, why having impact is so important to him, and his plans for InDebted’s climate action and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG).
What attracted you to InDebted?
I love start-up culture, where you have the autonomy to work across different areas and have more impact, rather than being a cog in a machine. Improving people’s financial and general wellbeing is a real passion of mine - when people have a solid financial footing, this opens up so many more opportunities. When I discovered what InDebted is doing, and how the company has even more amazing plans for the future in this space, I absolutely wanted to be a part of building this impact! Our 4 day work week also enables me to spend more of my time helping others, and will greatly increase the impact I can have in the limited time we have to take action.
How did you get involved with Climate for Change?
In December 2019, I had a conversation with a friend who outlined the impacts of climate change, and how important it was that we addressed it. It scared me enough to really kick me into gear, and I started making changes to my own individual habits. But I realised after a few months that we needed to make change happen quickly, and on a much grander scale than just me. I was so lucky to come across Climate for Change, and in June 2020 I joined their fellowship program - this involved 3 months of voluntary courses with 40 young people across Australia, where we learnt about the NFP space, fundraising, climate action, and how to have an impact. Through this, I absolutely fell in love with their model and their mission. Last year, I was involved with their annual fundraiser which raised over $300k, and since then, I’ve become a Facilitator.
What does your role as a Facilitator with Climate for Change involve?
We run conversations with people to inform and educate them, engage them emotionally, and provide opportunities and ideas on how they can take action on climate change. It empowers people with ways to take action that will have a bigger impact, and help them realise the power of their voice to create change at the government level. We know the majority of people in Australia are concerned about the climate, they just lack the knowledge and resources to make meaningful change. Our conversations are held with groups of 5-15 people. Someone hosts and cooks dinner, invites friends, family, co-workers or just people they trust, and we watch a video, engage in open discussion, and create a sustainable plan for action. This can be in people’s homes or over Zoom. I’m up to conversation number 13 now and I learn something new every time!
Why is climate change action important?
Climate change is without a doubt the biggest issue we will face in our lifetimes. It’s the issue that affects all other issues.
What types of initiatives have you started at InDebted?
At InDebted, I’ve hosted two conversations - one with our people based in Australia, the Philippines and South Africa, and one with our team in the US to help provide them more information on how to have an impact. As we expand into Europe and the UK, we’ll look to hold one for our teams over there this year. We’re also reviewing our sustainability policy and looking into ways we can offset our carbon use to be more carbon neutral, with a goal to build sustainable processes and a sustainable mindset.
How has InDebted supported you in these initiatives?
I think I was on day three at InDebted when I suggested we improve our recycling efforts (this is back when we had the Sydney office space), and Lyndonn Conabere, our Head of Happiness, backed me 100%. Since then, every initiative I’ve started or suggestion I’ve made has been supported. Whether it’s through organising conversations, suggesting ways of carbon offsetting, or encouraging sustainability action as part of our Diversity & Inclusion Council, my feedback and ideas have been encouraged and welcomed. Our VP - Finance and Operations, Ben Watiwat, even sent me the information for an ESG for start-ups course, which I’m doing this November. Once completed, I will prepare a proposal for InDebted which will be presented to our Senior Leadership Team.
What made you confident that InDebted was an organisation that would support climate change action?
It was through the collective mindset of everyone here - they’re interested, curious and supportive of people pursuing their passions. It’s also just a good, responsible company, doing our bit to create a better way, and this includes limiting and reducing our climate impact wherever possible.
This involves not taking unnecessary business trips, encouraging all of our team to live sustainably, and engaging and creating an environment where we’re encouraging other businesses & government to take climate action. It also rings true through our values - the most relevant one being ‘we before me’. Climate change action is a collective mindset. We must put the long term good of others before the short term decisions we make for ourselves.