University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Season 4, Episode 15: Lisa Newman-Wise + Kwasi Mitchell - ESG Reporting and Changing Standards

December 16, 2021  |  By Cindy Moehring

Share this via:

Tune into this special episode of the BIS and hear Cindy Moehring’s discussion with Lisa Newman-Wise and Kwasi Mitchell of Deloitte as they explain how they came to their current positions. The three also chat about ESG’s permanence, how its standards may change within different countries, and the increasing importance of the “S” in ESG to consumers.

Podcast

Resources From the Episiode

Episode Transcript

[music]

0:00:15.5 Cindy Moehring: Hi everybody, and welcome back for another episode of The BIS, the Business Integrity School, and today I have two delightful guests with me from Deloitte, I have both Lisa and Kwasi. Hi to both of you.

0:00:26.1 Kwasi Mitchell: Hi.

0:00:27.5 Lisa Newman-Wise: Hi.

0:00:28.3 Cindy Moehring: How are you guys doing today?

0:00:29.9 Kwasi Mitchell: I am doing incredibly well.

0:00:32.0 Cindy Moehring: Good, good.

0:00:33.5 Lisa Newman-Wise: Ditto.

0:00:34.6 Cindy Moehring: It's not and we're in the middle of summer here, at least as of the recording, but hopefully it'll be cooling off here as soon as we move into this fall semester. Well, before we jump into this podcast and talk about all things ESG, I wanna tell you just a little bit about both Lisa and Kwasi, they have really incredible background. So first, Lisa. Lisa is the chief of staff for US Sustainability and Climate Change at Deloitte. She joined Deloitte after completing a joint MBA and MS Environment and Resources Program at Stanford, and she holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Princeton. She began her career as a Bioenvironmental Engineering Officer in the Air Force, and she's focused for the past decade on corporate sustainability and non-profit strategy consulting. Now, if you're wondering how she got from point A to B, we'll get there in just a minute. We also have with us Kwasi Mitchell, who is the Chief Purpose Officer at Deloitte. I love that title, and I'm actually seeing that more frequently now in companies. Kwasi's responsible for driving a firm-wide strategy around Deloitte's commitments to areas including but not limited to diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability and climate change, and education and workforce development.

0:01:44.7 Cindy Moehring: Prior to this role, Kwasi served as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leader in the pro bono and special impact lead for Deloitte's more than 50,000 person consulting practice. He advises clients within both the government and commercial sectors and previously served as the strategy offering leader for Deloitte's Government and Public Practice Services Practice. Kwasi has a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry. We've got some really smart people with us today, if you haven't figured that out yet, and he sits on the board of several national and global non-profits. So again, welcome to both of you. Thank you so much for being with me today. And I just have to throw it out there, how in the world did we get from bioenvironmental engineering officer in the Air Force and PhD in organic chemistry, to focusing on chief purpose officer and all things ESG? I'd love to hear how that happened.

0:02:37.0 Kwasi Mitchell: And Lisa I'd love it if you start, especially since you're the brains behind this operation.

[chuckle]

0:02:41.7 Lisa Newman-Wise: Sure, I'm happy to. Thank you so much for having us Cindy, really pleased to get to speak with you today. I have been interested in the environment and protecting the outdoors since I was a kid, and enjoy backpacking and canoeing with my family. I pursued bioenvironmental engineering in the Air Force. I have a family history of service in the military, and so it was very helpful to me right after college to start my career there, a really excellent opportunity to learn leadership skills, and I focused on bioenvironmental engineering because of the human health and safety elements associated with protecting our environmental attributes; clean water, clean air, etcetera. I pursued graduate school after the Air Force because I really needed to understand how the business world worked. [laughter] I had no idea what people had been doing in the military. And after exploring the non-profit realm and corporate sustainability, I realized that the issues I cared about required excellent problem solving skills and collaboration across sectors, and consultants are the best problem solvers that I met in graduate school.

0:03:51.6 Lisa Newman-Wise: And fortunately, Deloitte was willing to take a chance on someone with a public military background and non-profit background, and I knew the world of Deloitte was so large that there was gonna be a route for me sort of meandering through the firm, potentially for a really longer term career, so that's eventually how I got to where I am now, which is my fourth role at Deloitte in the nine years that I've been here.

0:04:12.3 Cindy Moehring: That's really cool. Wow, there's a whole story to unpack there, but we'll have to hold that for another day and another episode. That's an awesome journey. Kwasi, how about you?

0:04:23.4 Kwasi Mitchell: So it's funny because I don't think I've ever shared this with Lisa. I have been studying different aspects of either sustainability or renewable energy/fuel since in college, so over 20 years. So, aspects of my research as an undergraduate when I was studying chemistry was focused on greenhouse gases. I then went to graduate school and studied alternative fuel sources. And specifically that led to a job with me working within the oil and gas energy industry where I also spent some time in those specific areas. Now, I joined Deloitte there for the same reason that Lisa was just mentioning a moment ago. I love solving complex problems, and there's no more complex problems than the dynamics of humans within a business environment. So that being said, I've had a number of roles, as you mentioned before, Cindy, that have kind of brought me here to my current role, and the reason that I ended up accepting the position as Chief Purpose Officer is because I had spent a lot of time on things such as climate and sustainability, I had spent a lot of time with things such as D&I, and education workforce development, and being in a role where I can look at those multifaceted issues in tandem, just to see where we can make an impact as an organization, it's incredibly meaningful, and I've just had the absolute pleasure of working with a team member as phenomenal as Lisa.

0:05:53.3 Cindy Moehring: Well, that is really, really fascinating. I love to hear people's journeys because they're so varied, they are as varied as we all are individuals, and it's just great to hear about how other people found their way toward this really purposeful topic that we're gonna spend a lot of time talking about today, which is ESG. It is certainly the new buzzword, in corporate America it used to be CSR, I think, Corporate Social Responsibility, and now it feels as though it has completely morphed and it's a topic that's certainly been around for a while, but was maybe more on the sidelines and now it's really center stage. So, it certainly feels that way, I think, from the push from the investment community, and then all the way through with what corporations are doing, business roundtable's new statement on stakeholder theory, all of that. I guess my question for both of you is, do you think it's kinda here to stay in this central way that it is now?

0:06:53.2 Kwasi Mitchell: And I'm happy to start and then Lisa will correct anything that she disagrees with, but I definitely feel that it's here to stay, if you just look at some of the trends that you just flagged, Cindy; the investors pointing out how this is critical, has led to substantial changes within corporations internationally around this particular topic. The other key piece that I see is, because corporations are starting to adopt this, they're being more thoughtful on everyone within their supply chain who they work with, and that they're signing similar pledges as they are making themselves. It's not uncommon for Lisa and I to see distinct letters or statements from clients that they would like to see an expression of shared values from us on things such as ESG. The other thing that's really critical and so many organizations see this as a critical talent play, this is an incredibly important topic to them, and so therefore it's gonna be a key aspect of not only their strategy, but how they govern themselves as an organization. And even here within Deloitte, one of the reasons why I personally feel that it's here to stay. I literally just reported out to our board last week, specifically on this topic, so everything has fallen in a place for this to become core to how organizations function in the future.

0:08:16.7 Cindy Moehring: Lisa, what do you think about that?

0:08:18.8 Lisa Newman-Wise: I completely agree with the multistakeholder imperative, I think that we have now, which is a change from the last couple of years, and I think in addition to what Kwasi mentioned as reasons why this is here to stay is the significant attention at global reporting and standards levels, looking to solve the complexity that corporations face right now in terms of how to actually measure and communicate progress on these topics. So the fact that the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation has now asked and is pushing for the sustainability standards board to set standards that will apply globally, I think is one good indication, I think the convergence and coalescence of almost 100 companies on the stakeholder capitalism metrics that the World Economic Forum announced and worked with in concert with the international business community over the last year or so, is a real demonstration of commitment. The question now is, how to measure and communicate, and to really embed the issues and the topics through all facets of the business, it's no longer really a Corporate Citizenship team only, or a CSR team, or a foundation, but really getting these topics and KPIs throughout everyone's job descriptions and roles in a company.

0:09:38.1 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, yeah, I would agree. And you went right to the heart of the issue that I think is on everyone's minds, and so I'm just gonna turn straight to it here, but it's about that measurement, and then it turns to reporting out on progress, but that measurement is hard to do. And part of the reason it's hard to do is because it does mean you've gotta collect the right kind of data, and companies figuring out how far back in the chain do they need to go. So, I'm interested in knowing from the consultant perspective, what are you all seeing in terms of your clients wrestling with that issue and where are they on this journey of collecting the data and how far back are they going? Does it differ by industry?

0:10:27.1 Lisa Newman-Wise: Yeah, I'm happy to start Kwasi, if you like.

0:10:30.3 Kwasi Mitchell: Go for it.

0:10:32.2 Lisa Newman-Wise: It really does vary, Cindy, on where the company is in its maturity and the industry that they are in, I think all companies are now at the point where they understand their own operations and probably tier one of their supply chain. But as a tier two, tier three, and several steps down, it becomes much difficult. The emergence of technology solutions, whether it's apps or blockchain or otherwise is helping, but there is still a first sorting and sifting through all of the options that are out there and also choosing where to focus, and that is something that we as consultants at Deloitte and other professional services firms are often trying to advise as to really focus on collecting data that is about the most meaningful and material topics that you have for your business. For some it might be water, for some it might be human rights or labor, trying to do everything all at once is impossible and overwhelming, so really look, taking a hard look at the current portfolio, the operations, and identifying either the places that are of the most risk, either for the operations of the business or the most risk from a brand perspective; what is it to be able to have a very clear answer to?

0:11:48.9 Lisa Newman-Wise: So I think we're seeing both of those things that are of great interest for clients across the board, and also really excited by multiple non-profit organizations that are trying to help make this easier, and also resolve in better livelihoods and better environmental conditions. The good news is that as we see more consistency in terms of the requirements of the eventual corporate customer, it will get better later on in the supply chain, similar to corporate reporting, standardizing the measures, the ways of communicating, etcetera, will simplify versus having multiple different approaches.

0:12:26.7 Kwasi Mitchell: Cindy, if you don't mind if I just added one more thing to that, 'cause I think Lisa is spot on, just so you get a perspective. The conversations that I have frequently center around people asking themselves two questions where they are deciding to start, and it's largely driven by people who have not been in this space, and they are heavily immersed as Lisa has been for years and years. It's, where in fact do we potentially do the most harm as an organization given our operations? And also the other key piece is where in fact, can we have the most influence ourselves and on our supplier community? So, it's a really interesting extension of what Lisa just explained there very articulately that from a more simple perspective, especially if you're thinking about C-suite executives that I interact with, they're wrestling with those two items and building upon "Now, how does that play out across our entire supply chain?"

0:13:26.3 Cindy Moehring: Do you see differences, not just by industry, but also by geography for your clients, and also do you see a difference in whether or not they're public or private companies? And they're kind of focused on this. So talking about it both from the geography and the public-private perspective, do you see differences?

0:13:46.9 Kwasi Mitchell: Lisa, why don't you go ahead and start?

0:13:48.8 Lisa Newman-Wise: Sure. Certainly see differences because what kind of information is communicated and the extent of the information varies significantly in terms of what's required and what companies believe is necessary to distinguish and differentiate themselves. I think also that geography makes a difference, and we need to remember that the kinds of rules or norms that we have in the US are not the same as around the globe, so perhaps if we think about labor standards and practices, so I think, at least they are gonna be a topic that is gonna be really challenging to navigate for multinationals because it is in some places, teenagers working a good living wage job, that's acceptable, and not being in school. And so navigating how to address the priorities that our consumers may have or other stakeholders, but also be respectful of differences in culture, I think, is gonna be challenging as we try to navigate to what a base standard should be on this.

0:14:56.8 Kwasi Mitchell: Yeah, and it's interesting, one other dynamic that, Lisa, I see a lot, particularly around the topic of purpose, which is cascading to this area, is organizations that are B2B in comparison to B2C. B2C organizations, because of the influence of their customers being so heavily passionate about things related to climate change have, in many respects, had to be on the front lines of really moving forward in advancing the ball because their customers were demanding it in vocally in a lot of different forums. So that being said, there's some nuances there when we think about aspects of this particular topic.

0:15:35.6 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, so one more question, before we leave this topic of measurement and data. Lisa, you had mentioned that you see clients using different types of technology, blockchain and others; have you seen any convergence around certain things like maybe blockchain or other types of technology that is most helpful in trying to, not just to gather data, but verify it as well?

0:16:04.5 Lisa Newman-Wise: Yeah, I think that in particular, as we look at the complex global supply chains, particularly around textiles or food and agriculture, and those that end up being really consumer-facing products, that's where we see the most uptick. And what's fascinating is that not only can these technologies and tools support from a verification and quality assurance type process, but also help the companies often save money. For example, better tracking of when produce is ready to be picked and then distributed to customers. So I think there's a dual benefit of both the consumer experience and improved ESG as well as supporting the company's bottom line.

0:16:47.3 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, yeah, I think so too. Alright, let's turn to the other topic that you mentioned a little bit earlier on, it is also on everyone's mind, and that's like the reporting out, and there's just this explosion of rating agencies, if you will, all who have different standards, and for global it can just be mind-boggling, let alone getting your mind around the figuring out what's material, like you all said, what's gonna have the biggest impact, then getting the data for that, figuring out how far back to go in your supply chain, but then it's like, well, what's the measuring stick that I'm measuring against? And so my question for you all is, what are you seeing on the horizon in terms of convergence first, of all the different rating agencies that are out there and the different measuring sticks?

0:17:36.5 Lisa Newman-Wise: Well, so, Cindy, those of us that have been in this space called an alphabet soup and it's ridiculous, and it's difficult to navigate, and depending what stakeholder you are looking to provide information to, you might choose, a company might choose a different reporting framework. And I think that actually makes sense because investors and consumers are looking for different kinds of information, I think it's a little bit unreasonable for us to think that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. There are gonna be variations by industry, by type of company, by what stakeholder you're trying to communicate to. However, there is, I think a foundational set of information that's needed and that's what these WEF Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics are really intended to design and provide for, then layering on you may choose a SASB type disclosure, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board because you're looking for material financially comparable information. You might be looking for something more like the GRI, the Global Reporting Index, because it's looking for something that's a little bit more comprehensive, that's Deloitte's Global Impact Report is in alignment with GRI standards.

0:18:49.0 Lisa Newman-Wise: But there are a handful of others out there. And one thing that I think is really good news is that some of these that are more similar, are starting to come together both 18-24 months and at least provide crosswalks or communication tools so that you don't have to sift through 12, maybe you're sifting through six. So, it's a step in the right direction. I also think that we're going to be seeing a real change in terms of financial risk associated particularly with climate change, disclose more and more with the uptick, and uptake that we're seeing for the TCFD, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which has become mandatory in some other parts of the world already.

0:19:31.8 Kwasi Mitchell: And Cindy, it's really funny because it's, like in my conversations, there's always just like, "Hey, hey, what reporting standards are you following?" Because there is such an alphabet soup out there and there's so many different... Businesses are just fundamentally different. The interesting thing, and what had popped into my head when you asked the question as well, is that when you think about this convergence, I recently had a conversation just with respect to the executive order that the Biden administration put forward and if that was gonna be another item that would propel additional convergence here in the near term, particularly across government suppliers, which could lead to pretty substantial standardization in a relatively accelerated timeframe.

0:20:18.3 Cindy Moehring: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I think that's right. But what's interesting about what I'm hearing in this conversation is that you all can envision a future perhaps where there is both some standard reporting maybe from the SEC or maybe even a global standard, keep our fingers crossed on that one, right? But then also maybe because you're dealing with different stakeholders, still this version of ESG report, or a sustainability report, something that is maybe not geared at investors that would be looking at your quarterly reports and a 10-K and a proxy statement, all that, but wanna know more about the consumer impact, is that a world that you envision might exist here at least for a while, as the next kind of chapter?

0:21:03.3 Kwasi Mitchell: Yes, I definitely think so. And Lisa and I haven't had a chance to talk about this, but just literally earlier today, we're going through our series of reporting that we're aggressively working on, but we're not getting rid of our legacy CSR report, where we would talk about impact associated with things such as skills-based volunteerism, that is a fundamental part of us as an organization within Deloitte, so, I do imagine that in the near term the scenario there being multiple reporting mechanisms as all of this falls into place will be good, 'cause people wanna tell their impact in a variety of different ways, not only to the people who are reading their ESG reports, but also if you think about it, to the talent that they're recruiting within the organization, which is from a very different background with different perspectives that they would wanna learn.

0:21:53.3 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, I think that's right. I think that's right. Lisa, what do you think about that?

0:22:00.1 Lisa Newman-Wise: I completely agree, and I think it's really important to acknowledge that neither CSR nor ESG should just be a report, it's about what you are actually doing to create impact and also how you're incorporating responsibility of the ES or G variety to the company, and then sharing those stories. So I think that the narratives that are for consumers will continue to be important in one way or another, and then the hard analytical inward-looking assessment that is perhaps more of the financially material risks, and will continue to be really important.

0:22:38.7 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, you know, the main difference that I see between CSR and where we were with that as a sector or corporate sector and ESG is that CSR was definitely about community impact and things that you were doing that made a difference in the social realm and two different communities, but ESG seems very focused to me on what is the impact of your operations, the business that you are in, and how does that impact the environment, and how can you lessen that impact, what can you do to promote social justice both within your organization and to the communities that you touch, and how are you governing yourself, how are you before you talking about impact, to turn the mirror inward a bit and talk about how you're governing yourselves? Is that how you guys see it too, the kind of the difference between the two, if you will?

0:23:30.0 Kwasi Mitchell: I think it's a good differentiation, and in particular, what I feel like what was missing with legacy CSR reports is in fact the G, because it wasn't necessarily included, and also the progress on a year-over-year basis. I think fundamentally, being able to understand you're making progress towards definitive goals rather than telling self-selected stories of impact. They're very, very different narratives, and Cindy, I think the way that you laid it out makes a great deal of sense.

0:24:02.9 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, yeah. So then let me ask you another question with this ESG, those are three huge topics, let's just be clear about that, and it's gonna take like everybody pitching in to make movement on big things like climate change and social justice. Do you think that all three of those E, S and G are getting equal billing right now and focus by companies? Or are one of those areas kind of front and center and others kind of being left behind?

0:24:33.3 Kwasi Mitchell: I can't wait to hear your answer to this Lisa, so I'm gonna let you start.

[laughter]

0:24:39.9 Lisa Newman-Wise: We're certainly not in the same place as a country even on, I think, all three of these topics. And as I was reflecting on this question, I think there are some topics within each of the E and the S and the G that we really aren't touching right now as Corporate America, such as natural capital and biodiversity. Yes, we're trying to focus on climate change and waste and water, but what about natural environments that are actually really helping to solve and are gonna be required to maintain if we really want to adequately address the climate imperative that's ahead of us. I think we saw last year in the United States, huge focus on social topics and awareness and equity in this country, that better not go away, we just need to add in the E, which had been definitely on the rise, I think in the last six months. There are some topics within governance that I think only started to get a bit of a spotlight earlier this year, such as political contributions, maybe it's a really hard one to grapple with and decide to communicate about.

0:25:46.1 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, yeah.

0:25:48.3 Kwasi Mitchell: I completely agree with Lisa. I think, particularly given the social justice awakening that we had as a country and globally has placed a very, very heavy emphasis on the S. And I do think that the E over the last six months with a number of distinct items has moved substantially, and I think that both of them are here to stay. What will be interesting is how that plays out in a sustained fashion, I just feel there have been so many distinct things that are currently and that have received broad-scale press and also leading up to, Lisa, I'd say COP26 to see if that leads to some sustained momentum so that there's somewhat parity between the E and S within ESG if we're going forward.

0:26:37.8 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, so, Kwasi for the audience, so let's talk about what is COP26?

0:26:44.9 Kwasi Mitchell: [chuckle] It's gonna be a very, very fun conference where we solve all of the world's ills, hopefully, right? So when I think of, it is a UN conference that'll be taking place at the end of October, early November, specifically focus on key items with respect to climate change writ large, and commitments and agreements that we need to make, and I always view it as a natural extension of what took place in Paris. Lisa, you probably have a much better way of putting it, but that's the way that I've equated in my simplistic mind.

0:27:15.8 Lisa Newman-Wise: No, that's exactly right. I think first and foremost, it's an opportunity for government leaders to come together, to help leading scientists to set and agree to goals. I think it's also where we will also see corporate involvement, though it'll probably look a little different than in past years had been, because much of it will be virtual this year, but it's a real opportunity, I think, to provide more public attention and also commitments at the most senior levels of business and government coming on the heels of the recent IPCC report. Nothing that was in that report was surprising. We've known this information, but it came up in the right time to really continue to focus and increase the commitments. I think we've seen commitments in the United States as it relates to our NDCs, the Nationally Determined Contributions a few months ago, that was really an amazing first step for the US, but we're gonna need to continue to see a lot more convergence of suppliers and coalitions across different businesses and industries to really address the crisis.

0:28:25.6 Kwasi Mitchell: I was gonna say, just to show how much things have changed. I literally, last week was asked my perspective on the IPCC report by our board, like that's the level...

0:28:38.4 Cindy Moehring: No, no, What is that report for the audience, again?

0:28:41.7 Kwasi Mitchell: Yeah. [chuckle] So, that report for the audience, it's a UN report that was specifically... And this one is in two parts. And what it recognized, and as part of this particular committee, which is a standing committee of, I think it's over 200 distinct scientists around the world, heavily focused on what are the fundamental impacts of climate change and making sure that that's relayed in such a way that governments around the world understand and start making plans accordingly.

0:29:11.0 Cindy Moehring: Got it.

0:29:11.7 Kwasi Mitchell: Now, this first part laid out a number of distinct scenarios. I believe in four or five months, they'll come back with the secondary version of the report that has more recommendations, but from the standpoint of asking distinct members of your C-suite like "Hey, the UN released a report specifically focused on climate change. What does that mean that we should start doing now, absolutely right now?" is a substantial shift, I feel, with respect to the heightened focus and importance of this topic, and really shows that boards understand and are getting it and really want action, which is gonna be critical for us driving change.

0:29:53.3 Cindy Moehring: Great, and so for all of you who are listening and watching, we will drop links to all of these reports that are being mentioned in the show notes so that you can make sure and take a look at that there. But Kwasi, you were getting ready to share something about that particular report and share a story about how just like things are changing, and just last week you were talking to our board about.

0:30:12.3 Kwasi Mitchell: And that's exactly it. I think the significance that members of the C-Suite are expected to understand the implications of reports on climate change and how it impacts our activities on a daily basis is not something that was happening 18 months to two years ago.

0:30:32.7 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, yeah, I think that's well said. And so it's a very fast evolving area, it really is. So, let's talk about COVID. It's still here. Unfortunately, it is still with us. What impact do you think that this global pandemic has had on ESG, and the focus on it?

0:30:56.4 Kwasi Mitchell: Lisa, why don't you start?

0:31:00.4 Lisa Newman-Wise: Sure. COVID has been horrible for everyone around the globe, some of us much more than others, and I think that that's the first thing to acknowledge, we would not have wanted this pandemic under any circumstances. And I think it's also shown us how quickly we can, if we want to, work together to try to address an issue. I think it's amazing how quickly our scientists created a vaccine, that was completely unexpected at the beginning of the pandemic. I do caution us against thinking there's gonna be a silver bullet to address climate change in the same way. But I think that it also has shown the collaboration that is necessary across borders to make inroads against a really complicated issue that is something that climate and the other in E topics in ESG as well as the S, as we think about complex supply chains, labor is really gonna require, I think there's gonna be new levels of collaboration that have shown we can do, but it hasn't been universal.

0:32:10.8 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, and it's not just across borders, I think it's across sectors; industry, private sector, non-profits. These are huge problems which I think do require massive collaboration, both globally and across sectors. Kwasi, what were you gonna say?

0:32:26.9 Kwasi Mitchell: No, and I think that what you just said, Cindy, is spot on, and I think what resulted coming out of COVID is that some of our traditional orthodoxies on how work has to occur and how we interact, will have positive impact with respect to us making progress towards some of the harmful effects that different aspects of business historically was transpired, and I say that from the standpoint of being in a consulting industry and knowing how travel-intensive it is. We are coming out on the other side of COVID and we're understanding that we can work incredibly differently that will have positive impact on the environment overall. So, as much as a tragedy and how painful this pandemic has been overall, I do think that there are some things that if we are thoughtful, as Lisa was saying a moment ago, and if we are careful, there's no silver bullet, but a collection of our actions we've seen, we've been able to do over the last 18 or so months that we probably should carry it forward for the betterment of the planet and all of us ourselves.

0:33:37.9 Cindy Moehring: Yeah, a real resiliency, I would say, and fortitude in the human spirit and figuring out how to create this new world that we're all gonna enter into because it is not gonna be the same and never will be, which is probably why ESG, I agree with you, is gonna stay front and center. So let me ask you one last question. This has been a fabulous conversation. Lots of resources have already been shared, but as we bring this to a close, I would love to know if both of you actually have good recommendations for maybe documentaries or more of a mainstream book or something to listen to, anything to watch, read or listen to that the audience could digest and take advantage of to learn a little bit more. What would you say?

0:34:31.5 Kwasi Mitchell: Why don't you go ahead and start Lisa?

0:34:33.6 Lisa Newman-Wise: Sure, sure. There are a number of really fantastic materials out there. A book that I have read recently in the environmental justice realm is 'Waste' by Catherine Coleman Flowers, it's about US sanitation, actually, and rural communities, and fascinating look and call to action about human health conditions in the United States. If folks like watching more, there's an excellent documentary called 'There's Something in the Water' by Elliot Page, which is about water conditions in Canada, and then finally, I'll leave one podcast on the table as well. I think that the GreenBiz 350, it's about an hour-long weekly podcast, really excellent for broad education on a variety of sustainable resources. I'll leave with those three.

0:35:28.0 Cindy Moehring: Awesome, thank you. I got three. Kwasi, what do you have to add?

0:35:32.5 Kwasi Mitchell: I have one very simple one, and I love getting a global perspective or a non-US perspective on distinct things related to climate, so the Economist has a fantastic biweekly newsletter where they summarize major stories around the globe related to sustainability, which is just incredibly thoughtful and very, very good, just to understand the dynamics of what we wrestle here within the US on a daily basis, and the impacts that that might have on some particularly part of the world in Southeast Asia. So very easy and accessible, but it pulls together a variety of different things that are really helpful for understanding the totality of the issue that we're trying to address here.

0:36:17.7 Cindy Moehring: Well, those all four are great resources, I'm gonna add them to my list, I've actually not read that book, so I wanna pick that up and do the others as well. Those are really great. This has been a fantastic conversation. I can't thank the two of you enough for sharing with us your views, your thoughts, your insights, where you see this whole area headed, I know that those who are watching and listening are gonna get a lot out of this episode, so thank you both very much. Appreciate your time.

0:36:46.2 Kwasi Mitchell: Thank you so much.

0:36:47.8 Lisa Newman-Wise: You're welcome, it was my pleasure.

0:36:49.9 Cindy Moehring: Alright, bye-bye.

0:36:51.6 Lisa Newman-Wise: Bye.

[music]

Matt WallerCindy Moehring is the founder and executive chair of the Business Integrity Leadership Initiative at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She recently retired from Walmart after 20 years, where she served as senior vice president, Global Chief Ethics Officer, and senior vice president, U.S. Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer.


Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

Business Integrity Leadership Initiative

The initiative strives to foster a culture of integrity, and promote thought leadership and inquiry among scholars, students, and business leaders to address the ethical challenges inherent in our increasingly complex business world. Learn more...

Stay Informed

Engage with our initiative on social media, and get updates from our email newsletter.