6 Women Making a Difference in ESG

An organization that has environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns at the forefront of their business model can make a major impact on efforts in sustainability and workplace fairness.

As outlined in a recent article from Forbes, women are the stars of the show when it comes to ESG investing as they are more likely to prioritize ESG at companies and the impact of these efforts than their male counterparts.

Here’s a look at six women making a difference in ESG.

Environmental

Environmental concerns take into consideration how well a company treats its physical environment and natural resources, from direct operations to every link of the supply chain.

These issues account for waste and pollution, deforestation, resource depletion and climate change. Efforts to reduce carbon emissions to net zero and publishing reports on climate action are ways that companies have shown their commitment. 

Click here to read more about the business value of the “E” in ESG.

BASF’s Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner on Sustainability and Biodegradability

At BASF (No. 12 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), researchers are working hard on creating both production processes and products that are more client-friendly. Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE and Chief Technology Officer, presented these research products at a research press conference in November.

The company invested $2.28 billion in the research and development of sustainable products in 2021.

“In 2021, 45% of our patent applications were related to innovations with a particular focus on sustainability, and this trend is growing,” Maas-Brunner said. BASF has seen over $11.4 billion in sales in the past five years.

“Many of the technologies that will enable a climate-neutral society have not yet been invented,” continued Maas-Brunner. “We need alliances — with all players in industry, science, politics and society. Alliances between companies and legislators are especially important because we need good framework conditions underpinning our actions.”

BASF is also working to generate CO2-free hydrogen, making production processes electric and boosting the circular economy.

The Hershey Company’s Leigh Horner on Driving the Business Through Acting on Climate Change

The Hershey Company (No. 6 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) has invested in renewable energy, which has reduced water usage and helped the company fight deforestation with innovative climate-smart cocoa practices.

Hershey has invested $3 million in energy optimization, creating systems that report real-time usage data for electricity, natural gas and water. On top of this, the company also invested $1.4 million in procedures and equipment to reduce well water usage.

These efforts make a significant difference in minimizing environmental impact. Restoring, preserving and nurturing natural resources helps not only the planet, but businesses too.

“Solving daunting issues like the impacts of climate change requires cross-industry collaboration. We are committed to partnering with others to achieve the impact we strive for,” said Leigh Horner, Vice President of Global Sustainability and Corporate Communications at The Hershey Company.

Hershey’s Cocoa For Good (launched in 2018) helps to educate cocoa farmers on income diversification and cocoa practices that are climate-friendly.

“We know we don’t have all the answers and our work continues, but we are proud of the progress made so far,” Horner said. 

Social

Corporate social responsibility is crucial in a company, especially when the ways an organization responds to social trends or fosters workplace inclusivity is under the public eye.

Helping local communities, working conditions and workplace DEI are among the concerns taken into account from a social aspect.

Click here to read more about the “S” in ESG.

AT&T’s Angel Benally on Connecting With Native American Communities

Angel Benally is a Tribal Affairs Specialist, FirstNet Strategy and Policy at AT&T (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company). She is also a member of the Navajo Nation and is a proud advocate of the indigenous community.

Benally encourages others to support the Native American community by seeking education and becoming an ally. Learn about the land you live on and who it belongs to. Advocate for the community and nurture connectedness. 

Benally helped AT&T become an ally for her community by utilizing her role to advocate for accessible, high-quality internet. When remote work started during the pandemic, her community was left on the other side of the digital divide. FirstNet helps bridge this gap.

“Through this struggle, the disconnect between the lived experiences of native people and the world at large was amplified,” said Benally. “I saw how my community was being left behind as the world pivoted to remote work and school, and I knew I had a part to play in advocating for this issue.”

AT&T is also establishing Connected Learning Centers to underserved communities across the country, helping digital equity nationwide.

“Having access to basic resources like computers and reliable internet opens the door for the next generation to succeed. I was the first person in my family to graduate college and I want my community — and the next generation — to have the option to achieve the same, and even greater possibilities.”

Humana’s Tricia Holland on Supporting Veteran and Military Families 

Tricia Holland is a Senior Program Delivery Professional and Vice President of SALUTE, Humana’s Network Resource Group (NRG). SALUTE’s mission is to honor and serve military members, veterans and their families. (Humana is No. 9 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list)

Holland’s husband is an Air Force veteran, having served two tours in Iraq. Her father is a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam.

“What I am doing as an NRG leader to better understand how to make a difference for those in our population facing mental health issues is twofold,” said Holland. “The first just comes through education. Speaking up and helping others understand the challenges that our veterans face. The other is providing opportunities for them to connect with those who may be facing similar challenges.”

Humana also supports the military and veteran community through Humana Military and partnerships with USAA and Humana Honor plans and Volunteer Service Organizations.

Governance

Governance in ESG assesses how well a company acts in the best interest of its stakeholders, as well as ensuring its business practices are ethical, accountable and transparent.

Corporate accountability, tax strategy and board diversity and structure are all concerns of governance.

Take a look at the women who are at the head of advocating for ESG investments.

Hilton’s Kristin Campbell on Enhancing Environmental and Social Impact Commitments

Hilton (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company) is enhancing its environmental and social goals, as supported by Hilton General Counsel and Chief ESG Officer Kristin Campbell.

The company recently opened the first net-zero operations hotel in the U.S., Hotel Marcel New Haven, Tapestry Collection by Hilton in New Haven, Connecticut. Hilton has also committed investments in Fifth Wall’s climate technology fund.

“As one of the world’s largest hotel companies, Hilton has a critical responsibility to protect our communities and our planet, so the destinations where we operate can remain vibrant and resilient for generations of travelers to come,” Campbell said.

Hilton also provides community-based support through the Hilton Global Foundation and Team Member Assistance Fund, as well as donating to local food banks.

“We continue to have a big impact in our communities by providing local support, disaster relief and economic opportunities. Our owners and our hotels have built an incredible network across the local communities we serve, learning how we can partner with them and make a meaningful impact,” Campbell said.

KPMG’s Jane Lawrie on Investing in ESG to Boost Company Success

Investing in ESG can make a major difference in a company’s success journey, as urged by KPMG (No. 11 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) Global Head of Corporate Affairs, Jane Lawrie.

“What businesses produce, how they produce it, how they treat their people, their impact on their wider communities, where they choose to invest their money and oversight of their supply chains all matter for our collective success (or otherwise) in tackling our ESG issues,” Lawrie said.

With the looming possibility of a recession, as well as the early stages of corporate climate action, some CEOs may be tempted to pull back investments in climate change and redistribute them to economic safety.

Lawrie said this is a short-term concern, and re-committing to the long-term issue of climate action would be an expensive correction.

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