Based at New York, Patsy Doerr is an experienced speaker, columnist, thought leader and award-winning expert in the field of Social Impact, with expertise in corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. Her work in these areas has been featured by a number of publications and conferences including Forbes, The Hill, The Muse, Milken Institute and Sustainable Brands. For India CSR Interview Leadership Series Harsha Mukherjee talked to Patsy Doerr, Global Leader, Social Impact, USA. Excerpts of an interview:
How do you differentiate CSR from Corporate Sustainability?
CSR and Corporate Sustainability are inextricably linked. One is about community investment the other about sustainable business. Businesses cannot be sustainable in the long term if they do not focus on their social impact. Social impact is vital because it is a growing expectation and concern of the talent they wish to attract – clients and investors.
What are the Causes close to your heart? How do they serve your company’s interest?
The cause closest to my heart is the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In particular gender parity and inclusion overall. These are personal drivers as well as professional goals. The world and the workforce will be a better place by leveling the playing field and letting the best minds in the world have a seat at the table, no matter the demographics.
What do you believe are the best learning experiences from CSR in your industry?
In my experience, I have found tremendous success and gratitude for understanding and effectively implementing the link between social impact and the bottom line. When we can show and prove that positive societal decisions can impact the financial success of the company, CSR will continue to be weaved into the core of the companies we work for. To do this, I’ve learned how vital it is to be diligent and determined in ensuring that the story and connection is clear.
Your thoughts on the international future trends for Sustainable Development?
It is no longer a choice for companies to embed social impact into their business and brand strategies – it will increasingly be a requirement to thrive and compete for talent, customers and investors. At the same time, the rise of social pressures will enhance the volume and strength of company voices in the current geo-political environment. The affects will be increased transparency around social impact metrics and targets both within and outside of organizations. The SDGs will be utilized much more consistently as a framework to measure the organization’s social impact initiatives. Further, we will start to see ever increasing impact on social impact statistics particularly gender parity as overdue attention continues to make headlines.
What is your favorite case study from your company?
My favorite case study from my time at Thomson Reuters would have to be the development and launch of the Diversity & Inclusion Index (D&I Index), which combined what Thomson Reuters does (Data Mining) with clear D&I goals to identify and celebrate the top 100 most diverse and inclusive companies worldwide.
What are the key or top three challenges you have to address as a CSR and Sustainability professional?
The top challenges our industry faces currently is the integration into the business strategy and structure, consistent and sustainable focus on the topic and resourcing.
Do you implement sustainable practices in your management? If yes, would you like to share some examples thereof?
I practice D&I in all that I do as an individual and as a leader. To guide my decisions and actions, I use the UN’s SDG’s as a framework.
What are the parameters you use to select CSR and Sustainability solution providers?
Solution providers need to understand the cross section being doing good and the bottom line. Those who provide holistic solutions rather than standalone programs signal to me that they understand the linkage and I am more inclined to engage with them.
What, in your experience, have been the benefits of doing Responsible business?
Personally, the benefits are invaluable. I feel so fortunate to do work that I am passionate about and knowing that I am making a tangible and positive impact on the business. Professionally, my work in responsible business has better positioned the companies I’ve worked for by improving the brand, their reputation and the difference we make in our communities.
Message to our readers.
I would encourage each of you to educate themselves on the SDGs, sustainable business and to contribute to the effort as leaders, individuals and consumers. The more that we collectively work toward making these traditional practices in business, the better off we all will be.
(Since December 2011, Patsy has built and has been leading the corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion and sustainability functions at Thomson Reuters globally, which spanned more than 100 countries and 45,000 employees. In 2017, she successfully launched the ESG Institute, a cutting-edge resource and support center tasked with building awareness and understanding around Social Impact issues and metrics. Patsy’s impact and success is rooted in more than 25 years of experience building and leading functions for organizations including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. Additionally, Patsy serves on several board and committees that align with both her business and personal passions, including All In Together, Samburu Girls Foundation, Women’s World Banking and Responsible Investment Association. Patsy holds a BS in Biology from Washington and Lee University as well as a Master of Science (summa cum laude) in Adult Learning and Organizational Development from Fordham University. She has two children and lives in Manhattan.)
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