“Business as usual can’t continue”: Why KeepCup is shutting its doors for a student-led climate strike

SmartCompany, September 3, 2019

KeepCup managing director Abigail Forsyth. Source: Supplied.

Melbourne SME KeepCup is among the 25 businesses pledging to support workers who join the student climate strike on September 20.

The business coalition, dubbed Not Business As Usual, calls for the private sector to play a part in pressuring the government to “make meaningful commitments on climate change”.

KeepCup managing director Abigail Forsyth tells SmartCompany it’s important for businesses, and not just workers as individuals, to join the strike.

“Business as usual can’t continue because it’s not,” she says.

“We’re signposting to the government that we want stronger policy directions and we need hard decisions to be made.”

Amber Electric co-founder and co-chief executive officer Chris Thompson tells SmartCompany joining the group of businesses in supporting the strike was an “easy decision.”

“It heavily aligns to what Amber is all about,” he says.

“It was a 30-second decision.”

For other companies without such a large emphasis on sustainability, however, Forsyth is empathetic to the instinct to evaluate what their customers want on this issue. On the other hand, she also believes the strike is a good chance to show your business’ stance.

“We’re telling consumers that change is required.”

On a practical level, KeepCup is shutting its doors for the day.

“We’ve just sent out a team email explaining our plans,” Forsyth says.

In it, she also encourages her team to bring their families to the strike.

This move was partially inspired by her own experiences in taking her children to a youth climate strike earlier this year. While taking public transport home, she overheard misinformation about the strike from other commuters.

Similarly, Amber is making the workday optional. Thompson urges his employees to choose whether they feel a full day of work or joining the strike would be more effective in addressing the issue.

As a smaller company, Thompson acknowledges there is a concern this may be disruptive in that day’s operation, and is taking precautions.

“I’m taking a half-day off,” he says.

“I’ll have my phone on me to make sure our customers are still taken care of.”

The global student strike movement coincides with the United Nations’ Climate Change Summit and follows the lead of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s solo strike in August of last year.

Both School Strike 4 Climate and Global Climate Strike websites encourage adults to join the strikes in solidarity with youth participators.