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We recently had the chance to ask Lee about his role at Bloomberg, his thoughts on the continually expansive scope of corporate sustainability and his ideas on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Lee Ballin was interviewed as part of the build up to The Responsible Business Summit USA 2016, where he will joined by many other leading brands & business figures. Find out more here
Below is an extract from the interview
Ethical Corporation: What’s your current role and what are your responsibilities?
Lee Ballin: I head our Sustainable Business Programs at Bloomberg. I work in coordination with corporate communications to oversee the internal & external communications of Bloomberg’s Sustainability Business & Finance Group, develop the Bloomberg Impact Report, coordinate our Impact Accelerator initiative, a skills based volunteering program, with other social impact departments at Bloomberg and work with media to develop Sustainability related events, advertising and other revenue generating opportunities tied to sustainability in media. I also coordinate our global Earth Day activities and other employee engagement activities.
EC: The broad umbrella of sustainability has changed a lot over the years, how do you see corporate sustainability evolving over the next 5 years?
LB: When our team first started in 2008 our mission was not to just make the company sustainable because it was the right thing to do, but to prove that it made business sense. And we’ve done just that by scrutinizing every aspect of our environmental impact and as a result saving $80 Million since our efforts commenced in 2008.
Today, investors examine companies with greater sophistication than ever before, and one of the new variables they consider is sustainability. They ask questions like: How sustainable are companies’ internal practices, how sustainable are their external supply chain, including the natural resources they depend on? As more and more investors demand answers to these questions, increasingly companies are going to be required to report on them and address their risks.
I also think that there is a great business opportunity in sustainability. We are at a tipping point where our work is not only an operational efficiency and risk exercise but an opportunity for companies to leverage their core competencies and provide goods and services for a clean economy. For Bloomberg that is providing news, data and analysis about sustainability issues that matter to our customer as well as being transparent about our own efforts as a company.
EC: There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, how are you embedding the Goals into your strategy? How was this decided?
LB: We incorporate 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals into our sustainability strategy: no poverty (HERfinance), zero Hunger (Second Harvest Japan), Quality Education (Bloomberg Startup), Gender Equality (maternity/paternity benefits, D&I group), affordable and clean energy (numerous wind and solar projects), sustainable cities and communities (renewable energy, promote public transportation, car charging stations, efficiencies in our building), climate action, partnerships for the goals. We incorporate goals as they relate to our business, our facilities, and our customers.
EC: You are participating in the Responsible Business Summit USA April, could you tell us why these types of gatherings are so important for the sustainability community?
LB: As a business professional in the sustainability world, collaboration is key to addressing our complex challenges. This summit, and others like it, allows professionals from different brands and different industries to discuss what they are doing around climate change, how they are influencing customer behavior and managing their business risks. In today’s economy, there is not one industry that operates in total isolation, so the ability to throw ideas off of one another; help each other solve problems whether it be supply chain related or operating efficiencies.
EC: And finally, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s Responsible Business Summit USA?
LB: The Responsible Business Summit has a lot of exciting opportunities this year. The panel themes, SDGs and climate change, influencing customer behavior, and business risk cover a variety of issues and solutions that can apply to every industry. What is especially exciting for me is the two days of networking opportunities that allow us to meet new people, build relationships with key decision makers, generate exposure and demonstrate our knowledge. The summit includes not just corporates, but also NGOs, Government, and service providers along a spectrum of managerial levels.sustainable business Bloomberg corporate sustainability RBS USA stakeholders supply chain NGO