Even the most courageous leaders have moments of doubt.
“I never think I am doing enough,” admitted Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who led the United Nations negotiations that yielded the historic Paris Agreement, during a New York interview in late February to mark the publication of her new book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.”
Her moment of self-reflection came during the audience question-and-answer session, after a Brazilian university student asked for tips to build her own self-confidence about addressing the climate crisis.
Choking back tears, and pointing to her two daughters as her perennial inspiration, Figueres continued: “We’ve got to turn this around. There is no way that my generation can turn over the table without changing the trajectory. It is our solemn responsibility.”
In her book, co-authored with her U.N. co-negotiator Tom Rivett-Carnac, Figueres urges readers to “let go of half-hearted attempts and instead act in proportion to the magnitude of the challenge.” And while she may doubt herself, she is “stubbornly optimistic” that we have the brains and technology to turn things around during the next decade, provided we choose to act boldly and quickly. “I have confidence in the creativity and goodness of the human species,” Figueres said.
Who is rising to the challenge? The 25 individuals on GreenBiz’s second “Badass Women” list, selected by the editorial team in honor of International Women’s Day, are inspiring action in their own unique ways — in boardrooms, through employee networks and political circles, and on farms and factory floors. This was a joyful process: We chose not to repeat those named on the first version and easily could have added 10 more names — a welcome boost of optimism.
When it comes to addressing the climate crisis, few people are more badass than Figueres — you actually can find her on the first edition along with such other perpetual badasses as Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson and U.N. Global Compact Executive Director Lise Kingo. They’re in good company. Here’s this year’s list in its entirety.
Jane Ambachtsheer, Global Head of Sustainability, BNP Paribas Asset Management
One good way to gauge how seriously a company regards a strategy is to measure how employees are compensated to follow it. Consider that French bank BNP Paribas has embedded CSR metrics into the incentive plans for its 5,000 top managers — they count for at least 20 percent of the total.
Jane Ambachtsheer, an ex-Mercer partner and former consultant to the United Nations who was involved with the creation of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), drives that sort of strategy behind the scenes. In 2018 she joined the investment management arm of BNP, where she is charged with accelerating its footprint in sustainable finance. Her education from Amsterdam and York University: equal parts social science, economics and English literature.
Last year, BNP shored up its leadership position among financial services companies by pledging to withdraw completely from investments in coal assets by 2040 globally, committing $1.12 billion to finance the “ecological transition” in the shipping sector by 2025 and stepping up the pressure for its portfolio companies to end deforestation.
“We have flipped from a place where managers needed to explain why they were putting such focus on sustainable investing to a point now where managers would need to justify why they’re not putting more focus on it,” she wrote last year. “It has become a must-have.”
Ezgi Barcenas, Global Vice President of Sustainability, Anheuser Busch InBev
A Vanderbilt University-educated biomedical and electric engineer — who also holds a master’s in environmental health from Harvard and an MBA from Chicago-Booth — Ezgi Barcenas joined the sustainability team at Anheuser Busch InBev four years ago. She quickly worked her way up to her global role as the executive responsible for managing its 2025 sustainability strategy.
The beermaker’s goals are simple, promising bold advances in water strategy, returnable or recyclable packaging, renewable energy procurement (its U.S. division in 2019 signed the beer industry’s largest power purchase agreement to date) and support for farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices.
How to get there? Technology-enabled innovation, such as a system from AB InBev partner Sentera, which uses drones, weather satellites and mobile phone imagery for better agronomics data. Fittingly, Barcenas is also the lead on the AB InBev 100+ Accelerator program, which helps startups working on solutions including traceability software, weather data analytics and new manufacturing systems.
Kate Brandt, CSO, Google
The CSOs at the Big Four tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft — have long viewed corporate sustainability as a catalyst for innovation and differentiation. As Google’s lead executive on this cause, Kate Brandt’s track record is formidable.
Since leaving her job as the first federal CSO in 2015 — where she launched energy cuts estimated to save taxpayers more than $18 billion — Brandt has put the company’s analytics, artificial intelligence and investment might to use for the planet. She’s orchestrated building wind and solar farms (Google in September engineered the biggest corporate procurement ever) and recently created an accelerator for startups focused on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
For her next act, Brandt is championing a “circular Google in a sustainable world.” The key? Google’s analytics know-how: “An element of reaching a fully circular economy requires identifying, tracking and managing the overwhelming and globe-spanning swirl of materials,” she wrote when she launched that mission in June.
To do that, Google will need to “create new, and even unlikely partnerships across industries,” she notes. First up: food waste and fashion.
Anisa Kamadoli Costa, CSO, Tiffany & Co.; Chair and President, Tiffany & Co. Foundation
For Tiffany & Co., sustainability strategy and corporate philanthropy have been tightly linked under the leadership of Anisa Kamadoli Costa since the legendary jeweler established its board-level CSR committee in 2009.
Acting to address climate change is a core business issue, and Tiffany isn’t afraid to say that loudly and publicly, as it did in ads directed to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as wildfires raged across the country early this year.
“For decades, our jewelry has been inspired by nature,” she explained during a GreenBiz 19 plenary session. “So many of the motifs that we have come from nature. And, of course, all of the materials that we use to craft our jewelry are coming from the earth. We are just not going to ignore the science that speaks to climate change.”
Tracing the provenance of gems, including diamonds, to ensure responsible mining and sourcing is a key concern and the company stopped using coral in its product more than a decade ago. Indeed, Tiffany’s work to support coral reefs and marine ecology for more than two decades is particularly notable — more than $25 million in conservation efforts that have helped protect more than 8 million square kilometers of ocean, an area roughly the size of the United States. Just in case she wasn’t busy enough, Costa also volunteers her time to Conservation International, Philanthropy New York, the B Team and the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Marie-Claire Daveu, CSO and Head of International Institutional Affairs, Kering
LInkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
A longtime public servant with a specialty in agriculture engineering and the environment, Marie-Claire Daveu was once technical adviser to former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. She has headed the fashion company’s sustainability and international affairs strategy since 2012.
In January, the company behind brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney reported its environmental, profit and loss metrics as part of its annual financials: It’s on track to reduce “overall environmental impacts” 40 percent by 2025. Kering uses renewable electricity to cover 67 percent of its global energy needs, purchases 100 percent of the gold for its watches and jewelry from responsible sources, and expects to reach 100 percent sustainable sourcing for all raw materials within five years.
“Of course we don’t say we’re perfect and everything is right … we have to try to do our best,” Daveu says in her profile on a fashion industry’s who’s-who list. “It means we are the best, but each day each one can change something.”
Like other CPG brands, Kering is looking for ways to ensure that shoppers understand the potential impact of the apparel and consumer products they buy. In October, Daveu held a hackathon to encourage the creation of apps that leverage its own digital groundbreaking platform, My EP&L App, which designers and fashion students use to integrate sustainability into their designs.
Francesca DeBiase, Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer, McDonald’s
The first person in her Italian immigrant family to earn a college degree, Francesca DeBiase assumed responsibility for the restaurant company’s climate change reduction, animal welfare and sustainable food and packaging programs in September 2015 — on top of her existing supply chain sourcing agenda.
“I think being able to have the accountability for supply chain … can help internally with the credibility to get things done in all five of the pillars across the business (food, sourcing, planet, people and community),” she told GreenBiz.
While McDonald’s work on meat sourcing and animal welfare began decades ago, the company in 2019 made its first U.S. forays into renewable energy procurement — quickly leaping into the two-tier of capacity among restaurant companies. Watch for it to experiment with programs to eliminate plastic packaging (as it did at a Berlin location in August) and with new ways to use its waste, such as its recent deal to provide Ford with a “significant portion” of the chaff from coffee served across the United States. Ford is turning that composite into headlight housings and other vehicle parts.
Edan Dionne, Vice President, Environmental, Energy & Chemical Management Programs, Corporate Environmental Affairs, IBM
LinkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
IBM’s legacy of leadership on environmental issues reaches close to 50 years, when it moved to eliminate polychlorinated biphenyls from its products during the 1970s. For the past two decades, chemical engineer Edan Dionne — educated at Michigan State University — has been at the center of the technology giant’s strategy, working on everything from materials management to water conservation to energy efficiency.
Data is central to the direction of IBM’s sustainability initiatives, not just to make its products and services ever more efficient but to create new solutions that help companies and communities measure their own impact. A particular focus for the next two years: using its internet of things, data analytics and artificial intelligence technologies to address the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, particularly water. One project that is making waves: A collaboration in Kenya uses IBM cloud services to better-manage clean water access for more than 3 million people.
“We believe in technology for good, and we believe public-private partnerships can play a critical role toward achieving environmental sustainability,” Dionne said in a May interview.
Suzanne Fallender, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Intel
Since joining Intel in 2007, Suzanne Fallender has made it her mission to keep social responsibility and sustainability front of mind with investors, creating year-round outreach on environmental, social and governance issues. She’s also driving new conversations with employees and customers.
“These groups demand more accountability than ever, and companies have an obligation to be transparent with them,” she wrote in Intel’s latest CSR report.
Educated in music, political science and marketing, Fallender earned her MBA from Arizona State University. Over the past two years, she has helped Intel integrate environmental, social and governance issues into its annual report, 10-K and proxy statements, and expanded the discussion about their impact on financial results. Among the latest highlights: 90 percent of Intel’s non-hazardous waste is recycled and it’s well on track to meet its goal of restoring 100 percent of the water it uses by 2025.
Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Former Policy Director, New Consensus; Co-author of ‘The Green New Deal’
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be the most vocal champion of The Green New Deal, but Rhiana Gunn-Wright’s name is listed first as one of the economic proposal’s two co-authors.
Released by think tank New Consensus, the Green New Deal outlines sweeping investments aimed at tackling climate change and promoting justice and equity across the U.S. For the Oxford-educated Gunn-Wright, who was an intern to former First Lady Michelle Obama while earning her master’s in philosophy, environmental justice is key to combating systemic racism across America.
“All of my power analysis comes from black feminism,” she told The Root in December. “One of the things I do is often think about not only who the big group the policy is proposed to but what are the subgroups in them and what are the root causes of the problem for them.”
Eunice Heath, Corporate Director of Sustainability, Dow
Educated as an industrial engineer, Eunice Heath has held a diverse array of marketing, sales and operations roles since joining chemical company Dow close to 30 years ago. She became part of the corporate citizenship and sustainability team in 2012, where she has been instrumental weaving diversity considerations into its environmental, health and safety strategies.
She’s got a big job, including helping educate and engage Dow’s 36,500 employees on sustainability. “With our next set of sustainability goals, our Dow 2025 goals … it really takes us to a whole other level in terms of reinforcing the role of business and society, which means our employees really need to understand how to think differently, how to be more creative, how to be courageous in some of the decisions that we’ll have to make,” she told me in early 2019.
Among other things, Heath is credited with developing a STEM education effort that eventually evolved into a global initiative that has sponsored training for more than 2,500 under-represented students. She has also been involved in numerous internal and external networks including an inclusion benchmarking team for Dow’s CEO, and Project Lead the Way, a national STEM organization.
Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, P&G
Remember all those 2020 goals set by massive multinationals? Procter & Gamble met much of its checklist, including reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent and reducing manufacturing water use over the past decade. Now the CPG giant must step up its ambition, P&G CSO Virginie Helias, who assumed that title in July 2016, noted in late February.
In particular, watch for P&G to reward employees that bring circular economy practices into product design and production and to continue prioritizing recyclable and reusable packaging, as it’s doing as one of the launch brands for Loop. “2020 is a year where action — collaborative action — will put us on the right trajectory,” Helias said.
Helias, an expert marketing strategist who has been with P&G for more than three decades, was one of the first to use sustainability as a brand differentiator with consumers and she advises sustainable fashion startup Appareal. How did she land her current job? She lobbied P&G’s C-suite to create the global sustainability role for herself eight years ago and is the company’s self-described “chief agitator officer.”
Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO and Chairwoman, Gensler
LinkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
Gensler is a formidable force in sustainable, regenerative building design with more than 110 million square feet of LEED-certified projects. Diane Hoskins, who has shared the CEO title for 15 years, doesn’t think that’s ambitious enough when you consider the company designs 1.25 billion square feet annually.
In September, Hoskins — a member of the WEF’s council on cities and urbanization — issued a challenge to the entire industry: Eliminate all greenhouse gases associated with the built environment, which accounts for at least 40 percent of global emissions. For Gensler alone, that’s a savings of more than 21.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually.
One key priority for the MIT-trained architect and LEED professional in 2020: transforming existing structures to become more climate-resilient, energy-efficient and people-friendly through features such as operable windows in skyscrapers and smart controls that use artificial intelligence to manage processes. “We have a question: ‘Is a new building needed at all?’” Hoskins told an industry trade publication last fall.
Kristina Kloberdanz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Officer, Mastercard
Mastercard’s first chief sustainability officer joined the global payments company about three years ago after more than two decades with IBM, plying her marketing and accounting degrees from Southern Methodist University in sales and marketing roles before becoming a corporate responsibility leader in 2013. One of her aims at Mastercard is to integrate ESG concerns across the company as a catalyst for innovation.
That starts first with one of the key pillars of the Mastercard sustainability strategy, financial inclusion, with a commitment of bringing affordable financial services to 500 million previously excluded individuals.
To that end, the company recently allied with Rabobank to create a digital marketplace that aims to help 1 million farmers in emerging economies sell their produce at a fair price. Mastercard is also at the center of the new Priceless Planet Coalition, a program that will enable corporate card customers to donate to large-scale reforestation projects that could support their own sustainability goals.
Katrin Ley, Managing Director, Fashion for Good
Sustainability is trendier than ever for the fashion industry, which accounts for an estimated 8 percent of global CO2 emissions. Katrin Ley, who heads the Fashion for Good coalition, is tasked with accelerating the response through collaborative innovation.
Ley has a background in sustainable fashion via Adidas and extensive experience in impact investing, a key skill for her role. Founded by the C&A Foundation, Fashion for Good is funding startups — from those addressing materials traceability to recommerce ventures to scientists working to eliminate polybags. Data suggests the investment opportunity for related innovation can total an annual $20 billion.
Fashion for Good is also backing pilot projects aimed at setting standards for best practices with corporate partners such as Adidas, Kering, PVH and Zalando. One of Ley’s newest initiatives: a focus on South Asia, where many garments are made.
Stella Li, President, BYD Motors
LinkedIn (corporate) | Twitter (corporate)
Late last month, Los Angeles placed the largest purchase of electric buses in U.S. history — almost all of the city’s 155-vehicle order will be supplied by China’s biggest EV company, BYD. Standing next to Mayor Eric Garcetti when the purchase was disclosed was Stella Li, president of BYD’s North American division and a highly visible proponent of the electrification cause.
“This is the real thing,” she said during the press conference. “They have been here four years already, and the city can see these buses are reliable.”
Li’s career with BYD began in 1996 as a marketer. She established the company’s first offices outside China and is responsible for all of BYD’s overseas non-domestic businesses, including its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles.
Mindy Lubber, President and CEO, Ceres
A lawyer by training, Ceres CEO Mindy Lubber is an expert on how climate risks such as water scarcity, flooding, sea level rises and pollution affect shareholder value, and she regularly argues that case on behalf of investors. That advocacy is well-timed, as big institutional investors such as BlackRock and pension funds, including the mighty California Public Employees Retirement System, make climate risk part of their investment decisions.
“Ten years ago, when we talked about sustainability in a boardroom, it was a sidebar,” she said during a GreenBiz 20 plenary session. “Now nobody’s rolling their eyes when we say we’re there to talk about sustainability.”
Before joining Ceres, Lubber held positions in government, financial services and the nonprofit sector. She was an Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Bill Clinton, responsible for the New England regional office.
Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability, The Estée Lauder Companies
LinkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
Last fall, Estée Lauder became the first cosmetics manufacturer to sign a virtual power purchase agreement in pursuit of its 2020 net-zero carbon emission goal — the contract for a wind farm in Oklahoma will cover more than half of the company’s global electricity consumption.
It’s the latest in a series of new initiatives introduced by Nancy Mahon, who studied law at Yale and New York University, since she moved over from a philanthropic role at MAC Cosmetics six years ago. During that time, her team has launched innovative recycling options and taken a leadership position within the industry on reporting environment social and governance issues.
One of the most potentially transformational examples: Estée is developing biodiversity and action plans for more than 4,000 product ingredients deemed sensitive from a human health or environmental standpoint, with a view to ensuring responsible sourcing policies. A piece of the plan is funding for HERProject, a BSR initiative aimed at supporting low-income women in global supply chains.
“At Estee Lauder, we believe that the answers to complex community issues that exist within global supply chains usually lie within the communities themselves,” Mahon said last year at a U.N. awards ceremony during Climate Week NYC.
Yolanda Malone, Vice President of Global Snacks Packaging, PepsiCo
LinkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
The rising star in PepsiCo’s snack food division was behind the food and beverage company’s push to create an ongoing training and certification program for its packaging designers meant, among other things, to get them to rethink materials selection and reuse. She’s a 2019 First Mover fellow as part of the Aspen Institute’s program recognizing “corporate social intrapreneurs.”
PepsiCo’s corporate goal is to ensure that 100 percent of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. While much of the chatter around that commitment has centered on the billions of plastic bottles it produces on an annual basis, the maker of Frito-Lay and Dorito’s is also testing industrially compostable thin-film packaging for its snacks, developed in collaboration with Danimer Scientific.
Malone, who has been with PepsiCo for almost a decade, was educated as a packaging engineer at Michigan State University, and she previously worked at ConAgra Foods and Nabisco.
Rebecca Marmot, CSO, Unilever
Rebecca Marmot has been at the center of the British-Dutch consumer goods company’s sustainability and CSR strategy since before Unilever’s groundbreaking Sustainable Living plan launched in 2010, calling for sweeping changes in how it sourced and manufactured everything from mayonnaise to home and personal care products.
Although Marmot has been the chief sustainability officer for less than a year, she created the company’s first foundation. She also has been the lead on many of Unilever’s external partnerships aimed at addressing climate change, including the U.N. Global Compact, and was tapped last year for an independent U.K. taskforce established by the government to address climate impacts from global palm oil, soy and beef supply chains.
This year, Marmot is pivoting to prioritize three areas under new Unilever CEO Alan Jope: reinforcing the link between sustainability and commercial success; embedding sustainability considerations more deeply into the company’s brands; and celebrating diversity.
Meryam Omi, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy, Legal & General Investment Management
LinkedIn (corporate) | Twitter (corporate)
Many institutional investors are talking up plans to dump stocks of companies on the wrong side of the climate crisis, Meryam Omi at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) is putting action behind those words.
Last year, LGIM cut five more companies from its $6.48 billion ethical investment fund portfolio, because they were too slow to address the carbon-intensity of their business and the related climate risks: ExxonMobil; MetLife; Kroger; Hormel Foods; and Korea Electric Power. It did this after extensive discussions with management at those companies failed to yield results, Omi told The Guardian. The decision to divest is part of the Climate Impact Pledge authored by her team.
“Talks without action are no longer fit for purpose given the urgency to address climate change,” said Omi, who holds master’s in environmental decision making. “This is no fad. The world is truly in the midst of a climate emergency, which could have drastic consequences for markets, companies and, therefore, our clients’ assets.”
Lena Pripp-Kovac, CSO, Inter IKEA Group
LinkedIn | Twitter (corporate)
In fiscal year 2019, home goods and furnishings retailer IKEA pulled off an enviable feat: It managed to shrink its carbon footprint by 4.3 percent in absolute terms while growing sales by 6.5 percent. Sustainability lead Lena Pripp-Kovac notes that it’s an important step in IKEA’s recently declared quest to become “climate positive.” “This is good news, especially since we know that we need to do so much more to reach our commitments for 2030,” she said.
Those ambitions will inspire $220 million more in investments in clean power (including sustainable biofuels for ships transporting its products), reforestation and forest protection before 2030.
A central agenda for Pripp-Kovac, who previously worked at Dell and Marks & Spencer, is continuing IKEA’s push to embed circular economy principles into its product design, manufacturing and sales processes. It eliminated all single-use plastic items in January, and close to 60 percent of the polyester in its textiles comes from recycled sources.
Pripp-Kovac’s team has encouraged experiments with rental models that redefine the concept of ownership. “If you want to create something new, you have to be optimistic about the possibilities to change, but the challenges are very daunting,” she said in an interview in September.
Jeannie Renne-Malone, Vice President, Global Sustainability, VF Corporation
VF Corporation in late February closed its inaugural green bond worth roughly $557 million, a first for the apparel and footwear sector. The proceeds are designated for VF’s ongoing work in reducing the impact of key materials and to support its new science-based targets announced in December, including a push to commercialize circular business models.
“Elevating our focus on, and investment in, circular and sustainability projects allows us to leverage our scale for good and achieve our ambitious SBTs,” noted Jeannie Renne-Malone, the VF sustainability lead who helped organize the offering.
Renne-Malone joined VF in September, after five years as vice president of sustainability at real estate company Prologis. There, she was responsible for developing a strategy and solar-rooftop program that turned the company into one of the top five corporate solar owners in the United States. In her new role, she’s at the center of its public policy, science-based targets and circular economy experiments by its brands including Napapijri, Timberland, Vans and The North Face.
“How we create our products is just as important as what we produce,” Renne-Malone said last fall. “WIth every decision, we ask ourselves, ‘Will this positively impact people or the planet?’ If the answer is yes, we’ll move it forward. However, if the answer is no, it’s a hard stop.”
Gayle Schueller, CSO, 3M
With degrees in physics and materials sciences, Gayle Schueller is not your typical sustainability chief. Before assuming her current role about two years ago, she led 3M’s growth and commercialization initiatives and ran the $33 billion company’s Mexican business unit.
Today, she’s responsible for upholding the diversified manufacturer’s pledge to require a “sustainability value commitment” for all new products. The policy took effect in 2019 and applies to the roughly $2 billion the maker of Post-its spends on research and development annually — and the 1,000 products it introduces.
Schueller has plenty to focus on: 3M has made mistakes. The fluorosurfactants once used in its firefighting foams and carpet treatments have sparked lawsuits, and last year 3M paid $850 million to settle a lawsuit related to PFAS contamination in drinking water.
But she’s tackling these and other issues, notably how it uses plastics in both products and packaging, head-on. Two significant portfolios 3M is already addressing: Scotch-Brite heavy-duty sponges, now made entirely from recycled fiber, and Thinsulate Featherless insulation, a down replacement made from plastic bottles.
Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist and Sustainable Agriculture Advocate
The outspoken feminist, critic of genetically modified organisms and advocate of small-holder farmers is well-known in agricultural circles — there was even a vegan lipstick named after her in Spain.
Over the past three decades, the controversial Indian scholar and quantum physicist has established several organizations to promote native seeds, organic farming and fair trade: the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology; the Earth University for biodiversity; and Navdanya, which advocates her core beliefs.
Shiva has trained more than 900,000 farmers in the principles of food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture — for that work, she received the Right Livelihood Award and was named an “environmental hero” by Time magazine. Her fierce criticism of industrial agriculture is articulated in books such as “The Violence of the Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind.”
“Only a living Earth and our work in harmony with it give us the option of removing the past damage, by nourishing the soil, by conserving biodiversity and breeding the seeds that feed us and our extended family,” Shiva said last year. “Biodiversity is the only way to control pests and weeds without pesticides and herbicides.”
Anne Simpson, Director of Global Governance, California Public Employees’ Retirement System
As the biggest public pension fund in the U.S., CalPERS is increasingly focused on its exposure to climate-related risks. In December, the fund finally put a number on what’s at stake: at least one-fifth of the $383 billion fund’s investments face high exposure, especially utilities. Anne Simpson has been driving that governance from the executive suite for two years, after a decade crafting its ESG strategy.
She was also involved with the creation of Climate Action 100+, an investor initiative aimed at pressing the world’s 100 “systemically important emitters” to address climate change — at the board level, with executive compensation and through specific emissions reduction plans. As of November, the effort represented $34 trillion in assets under management.
“This money belongs to the ordinary, working people in communities around the world,” she said in a presentation in late 2019. “That money in banks, pension funds and insurance companies is part of the common wealth. The wealth of the commons. And we need to start thinking about financial services as a service, something which serves the real economy.”
Simpson is also a vocal advocate of the ESG cause within the Securities Exchange Commission, where she serves on the investor advisory committee, as well as on the leadership council for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. She has authored two related books, “The Greening of Global Investment” and “Fair Shares: The Future of Shareholder Power and Responsibility.”