ERM is delighted to have launched the SustainAbility Institute by ERM with two online events on Wednesday, October 14th 2020.

Each session was hosted by Keryn James, Group Chief Executive of ERM, and Mark Lee, the Head of the new Institute, and featured a group of expert panelists representing ERM clients and partners.

For the Europe-Americas session, we were joined by:

  • Eliza Eubank, Managing Director and Global Head, Environmental and Social Risk Management, Citi

  • Eunice Heath, Corporate Director of Sustainability, Dow

  • Badar Khan, President & CEO, National Grid USA

  • Nigel Topping, High Level Champion for Climate Action, COP26

Describing the launch of the Institute as a huge moment for ERM, Keryn James expressed her excitement for what’s to come and for the contributions the thought leadership platform will make in the decade of action 2020-2030.

During each panel discussion, we focused on long-term business resilience and how to best maximize it for greater success. We explored this through topics like ESG, the low carbon economy transition, and human and social capital.

Initially, we asked our speakers to consider approaches to building better resilience, especially given the current context shaped by COVID-19, economic downturn, and the global movements pressing for greater equality and an end to systemic racism. We also considered the decade of action, exploring the greatest obstacles in the way of success and the necessary actions to overcome them.

Among the many insights shared, Eliza Eubank told us “People are a company’s most important resource. We must treat them fairly. Productivity goes up when people feel safe and protected.” Eunice Heath echoed, “We’ve come to a moment of pause to remember that we have one planet, one humanity,” adding “We’re seeing a connection between sustainability and resilience.”

Nigel Topping said, “Bold targets in the decade of action should be about motivation, not constraints.” Eliza Eubank underlined the importance of looking at trends in the changing markets saying, “It’s not just about being a good corporate citizen, it’s about financial risk [and] thinking about how we integrate ESG ratings into our risk assessments.” Keryn James also called for us to emphasize the importance of the ‘S’ in ESG, emphasizing the import of human and social capital and letting that inform decision-making going forward.

Speaking about the National Grid’s ‘Responsible Business Charter,’ Badar Khan told us, “We set our targets, but we really started with transparency about where we were to begin. We then translated our targets into regular business performance management, meaning that people were held accountable, and their reward targets were tied to these goals.”

Overall, panelists called for increased specificity in target-setting, agility and improving the way we think about the future. They also emphasized operationalizing sustainability and ensuring we’re considering every aspect of the value chain.

Keryn closed the each panelist webinar by saying that the conversation was an example of what the Institute has set out to achieve: bringing experts together from diverse backgrounds to share knowledge and encourage progress towards our common goals.

The complete video recording of the Europe-Americas webinar is available here and below. We invite you to watch it and share it with others, and we look forward to any feedback you may offer. We also thank GlobeScan for the technical and other support they provided for the launches, which employed their online collaboration forum platform and benefited from their expert input and facilitation. 

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