ESG objectives and driving social change: what big companies can do

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As an ice cream scooper at Ben & Jerry’s in high school, Ellen Jackowski saw firsthand how a company can integrate environmental and social impact directly into the core of its business.

Determined to make a difference herself, Jackowski sought a career in public policy, interning for her U.S. senator and the United Nations mission to NATO. But she quickly discovered that Ben & Jerry’s was onto something: the private sector plays a crucial role in driving social and environmental change globally, locally and personally.

Jackowski turned around and moved into the business world, eventually landing at HP where she became Director of Impact and Head of Sustainable Impact, leading a global team focused on program development and delivery. on climate action, human rights and digital equity. .

Now, Jackowski brings her experience and track record of innovation to Mastercard, where she will help further integrate environmental, social and governance goals known as ESG into the company’s strategy as Chief Sustainability Officer. .

The timing couldn’t be better. This week, influential leaders from across industry, government and climate advocacy groups gather in New York for Climate Week 2022. Alongside the United Nations General Assembly, this 14th Climate Week convocation hosts hundreds of events to share ideas and collaborate on climate action. The Mastercard Newsroom spoke with Jackowski to learn more about how individuals, communities and large corporations can work together to fight climate change.

What do you think is driving the recent adoption of ESG objectives by so many of today’s Fortune 500 companies?

It’s the urgency of climate change and other social issues that we feel in the ESG landscape. There are real examples where I live in Northern California, where we are experiencing unprecedented wildfires starting earlier and lasting longer, not to mention the recent extreme heat wave. Wherever you live in the world, you feel this escalation. Companies must act immediately to accelerate progress towards the ESG objectives they have set and report more transparently than ever.

“It’s the urgency of climate change and other social issues that we feel in the ESG landscape. Wherever you live in the world, you feel this escalation.”

Ellen Jackowski

What achievement are you most proud of in your career?

I helped build one of the world’s first scalable ocean-bound plastic supply chains for HP, where we sourced over a million discarded plastic bottles a day in Haiti – the country the poorest in the western hemisphere – to produce printer cartridges and personal computers. rooms. This program helped prevent discarded bottles from ending up in the ocean and created jobs within the local community in Haiti. It has proven that a company’s day-to-day decisions, like where to source materials, can have a disruptive and incredibly positive impact, both environmentally and socially.

Consumers are increasingly demanding products that are made and delivered more sustainably, but people don’t always put their money where they say it should. What will it take to close this gap?

We need to provide meaningful ways to educate people to understand their impact. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. If we can provide people with hard evidence of their impact, they can more easily make more informed and hopefully better decisions. Tools like Mastercard’s Carbon Calculator provide consumers with a measurement tool to help them do just that.

Global organizations have the resources to tackle climate change, but there is growing recognition that community participation is also essential. What is the role of local communities in designing and implementing climate action?

The world needs governments, local communities and individuals, on a very personal level, to participate in creating their own change and contributing to climate action. For example, in the Philippines, Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition, along with Conservation International and the World Resources Institute, is working to restore 417,500 trees in the Palawan region as part of its broader goal to restore 100 million trees. by 2025. Yet the main players in this huge undertaking are the five local women who will harvest the seeds and prepare the nursery. People make the difference.

What is Mastercard doing in the area of ​​sustainability that has really excited you and made you want to work here?

I love how Mastercard leverages its vast network to make a really meaningful impact. We already have programs in place, like the Carbon Calculator, the Priceless Planet Coalition and the Sustainable Cards Program that have made a difference in the world. When I look at the scale Mastercard has to influence change, I’m inspired. The possibilities are limitless.

To help make Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap fisheries more sustainable, the womena are provided with fuel-efficient stoves to smoke their fish. (Photo credit: Kriya Sith/Conservation International)

Let’s talk about the “s” in ESG — the social goals. How can we link climate action to financial inclusion?

Think of the billion people Mastercard has pledged to bring into the financial fold. They are also the people most affected by climate change. This tells me it’s time to introduce more holistic solutions that consider both environmental and social impact. For example, in Cambodia, the Priceless Planet Coalition and Conservation International are working to restore a flooded forest in a community fishery. In addition to reducing carbon emissions and avoiding future floods, they are taking the opportunity to empower women by teaching them how to produce Cambodian staples – fish paste and smoked fish – with fuel-efficient stoves. . Strategies that integrate social and environmental impact can go further and faster. And I think there’s a real opportunity at Mastercard to do that.

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