5 Leadership Actions that Increase Impact
I am from the Bahamas, so advancing climate change solutions and achieving environmental justice is personal. I enjoy the serenity of being in clear, turquoise waters — snorkeling, swimming, and listening to the sounds of the sea. As a board director, I recognize the growing importance of improving performance on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.
Here are 5 key take-aways and actions for leaders:
- Recognize that benefits and burdens are not equally shared- so one-size solutions will not work for everyone. Black, brown and poor communities disproportionally bear the burden of environmental in-justice. Unwanted facilities such as coal burning power plants, toxic landfills and chemical plants are often placed primarily in Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and rural communities but not in predominately high-income communities.
- Ask the right questions to ensure that ESG goals and implementation plans address key inequities. As corporations pursue decarbonization and ESG goals, directors and executives should consider how their policies, strategy and implementation plans create equitable benefits and shared burdens across diverse communities and impact multiple dimensions (e.g., energy access, jobs, income levels, health, environment).
- Engage community stakeholders in the spirit of partnership to inform and develop more comprehensive and effective policies, initiatives, and solutions. Government and corporate leaders must prioritize and listen to truly understand stakeholder concerns, needs and barriers (e.g., digital deserts, discriminatory financing, lack of energy access)-especially communities of color and low-income constituents. This approach will help to build community buy-in, identify solution gaps early and avoid costly “do-overs”.
- Advance innovative approaches to increase the Science Technology Engineering Arts Math (STEAM) pipeline. The complexity of global problems and the widening gap in filling STEAM jobs underscore the need for diverse talent and new ideas that increase the number of STEM professionals. One key area for ideation, research and action is re-defining hiring requirements — eliminating unnecessary skills, degree and experience levels that limit qualified applicants. (e.g., Do Incident Response Analysts and Penetration Testers need a degree?)
- Establish partnerships that prepare, diversify and expand access to the next generation of professionals and generate economic impact (e.g., Volt Energy Utility’s agreement with Microsoft, Amazon’s Future Engineer Program and partnerships with Girls That Hack; Internships and Ambassadorship with Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)
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I was honored to moderate a recent panel for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) on February 24th, 2022. We discussed key challenges and potential solutions related to “Clean Energy Technology, Public Policies and Environmental and Energy Justice”. The event was hosted by NREL leaders: Drs. Maria Curry-Nkansah (research senior research advisor and strategic lead for the circular economy for advanced energy, materials and technology) and Dana-Marie Thomas (cyber security and resilience researcher) and sponsored by the NREL Black Employee Resource Group.
Panelists included: Gilbert Campbell (Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Volt Energy Utility), Dr. Celeste Chamberlain, CISSP (Cybersecurity Governance, Risk and Compliance at SAP), Alexis Robinson, CISA, PMP (Head of U.S. Government Security and Compliance at Amazon Web Services), Greg Suber (Deputy Director for Operating Reactors at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission), and Professor Roger Whyte (Cybersecurity Architect at Microsoft).
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