Sustainability is gorgeous at Estée Lauder Firms

Al Iannuzzi is vp of sustainability at The Estée Lauder Firms, the place he directs enterprise-wide sustainability efforts and establishes and executes on the corporate’s sustainability technique, targets and targets. He oversees the publication of the corporate’s company duty report, ESG rankings and rankings and local weather and power packages. He’s additionally an adjunct professor at Indiana College, Purdue College, the place he teaches product enchancment and sustainability.  

Iannuzzi has greater than 30 years’ expertise within the setting, well being, security and sustainability discipline. Previous to working at The Estée Lauder Firms, he labored for Johnson & Johnson, the place he led design for the setting and inexperienced advertising and marketing packages and developed sustainability methods for client product, medical gadget and pharmaceutical sectors. He served as chief architect of the Earthwards greener product growth program. He has additionally labored as an environmental advisor and as a regulator for the New Jersey Division of Environmental Safety.  

Iannuzzi has authored three books, his newest “Greener Merchandise: the Making & Advertising and marketing of Sustainable Manufacturers” (2018) and has written quite a few articles on sustainability and product stewardship.

Bard MBA’s Jill Metzger speaks with Iannuzzi.

Jill Metzger: How does such a big international group like Estée Lauder navigate a quick paced, ever evolving sustainability panorama? 

Al Iannuzzi: One of many causes I actually love sustainability is it is ever altering, proper? Matter of truth, one of many issues I wish to say at any time when I am doing talks round that is that my perception is that there is not any such factor as a sustainable firm. Sustainability is a journey. So each firm can enhance. The problems we’re managing at this time weren’t even considered 5 years in the past. I am all the time amazed what number of new points are coming at us on a regular basis so this can be very quick paced, to your level, and we have to arrange processes to handle these items. 

We developed an rising sustainability traits course of the place we monitor what is going on on within the numerous elements of our stakeholders. We have a look at the place customers are saying and we have a look at what buyers are saying. We monitor what’s attention-grabbing to our staff. We have a look at what NGOs are saying and we sort of monitor that to seek out out what the traits are and we attempt to keep forward of the traits. We sort of plot them to see the place now we have the most important potential enterprise impacts and which of them have probably the most velocity. Then we attempt to put processes or pointers in to attempt to deal with these even targets, or white papers to deal with these points. However it’s a daunting activity. Sustainability is so broad, there’s so many points and there is all the time extra points to fret about and to handle.

Metzger: Are there any challenges that you have skilled both from an Estée Lauder perspective or simply for the sweetness area or the buyer items area, total?

Iannuzzi: Every little thing is difficult, however if you happen to have a look at the most important problem proper from an environmental perspective, and all people’s in the identical boat, it’s with local weather change and greenhouse fuel emissions and how you can scale back greenhouse fuel emissions, and how you can scale back them shortly. If you concentrate on firms like ours, any manufacturing firm, a majority of your emissions are coming out of your provide chain and the uncooked supplies you are buying and from the products and companies that you simply’re buying. After we have a look at our emissions, that is the most important chunk of our emissions. 

So, how do you crack that nut? It isn’t simple and there is new accounting guidelines popping out as we communicate proper now, and we’re attempting to know them. And we additionally should assume, “How are we going to get our suppliers to do the issues that we have carried out?” We have achieved internet zero for our personal emissions and one hundred pc renewable electrical energy for our personal emissions.

Metzger: Are you able to discuss via a few of the different sustainability commitments you all have? 

Iannuzzi: Sure. After I was introduced on board, one other comic story, that was October 2018, and I had a gathering with our CEO, and he is like, “I would wish to have public dealing with sustainability targets.” And I am like, “Yeah, positive. In a few 12 months we’ll in all probability may have them. We’ll should do materiality evaluation, determine what’s most essential to us, and we’ll should vet them and get their buy-in and price estimates, and so forth and so forth.” And he is like, “No, I would wish to have them in March for our investor day.” And I am like, “OK, we’ll do it.” As a result of when the CEO says to do one thing, that is when all people, in some way magically, will get in line and issues can go so quick. 

We actually did it, we arrange 11 public dealing with sustainability targets. There have been a few sustainability targets we had earlier than I arrived, however we developed extra, and we have even added on extra only in the near past too. However one of many greatest ones is within the space of local weather. So we had targets for internet zero and renewable electrical energy, which we really met final 12 months, in November 2020, forward of schedule. Then we set a aim to set a science-based goal: we did that for our greenhouse fuel emissions and we additionally acquired it accepted by the Science Based mostly Goal Initiative which is a 3rd occasion group of NGOs who approve of science primarily based targets. We set targets on what we felt had been an important areas to our firm. 

Metzger: Are you discovering that an increasing number of customers, over time, are involved in understanding the sustainability elements or components, not simply of Estée Lauder as a model and what you all stand for, however of particular merchandise that they are buying? 

Iannuzzi: Yeah, we’re seeing a very sturdy need from our customers to need to buy merchandise from an organization that they be ok with. So that they need to buy merchandise from good company residents. They need to ensure that it is actual, that there is not any greenwashing happening. After we are speaking about what we’re doing, we’re very cautious on what we are saying publicly and the way we interact our customers. However particularly the millennial customers, we’re discovering, are tremendous involved in sustainability. However it’s throughout the board. It does not matter, the section of the buyer, they’re all tremendous . 

We promote status magnificence merchandise, in order that they’re very excessive finish they usually command an excellent worth. So that they’re anticipating us to do these items they usually’re anticipating us to be good company actors, and desirous about the kind of issues that I simply talked about, these sorts of targets that we have set for ourselves.

Metzger: You have got over 30 years of expertise on this discipline, which is super. I am curious to listen to how in your view, sustainability as a self-discipline or no matter you need to name it, has modified over the course of your profession.

Iannuzzi: It is fairly wonderful really from after I first began. I additionally like to inform this story too. After I first began within the discipline, my schooling was environmental science, and primarily what we labored on was in minimizing the impacts on the manufacturing facility and the R&D services: decreasing waste, decreasing water. That was our world. We thought, “Oh, that is actually superior… how is hazardous waste being disposed of?” and it began like that. 

We enabled a 22 megawatts wind farm to be in-built Oklahoma, which offers sufficient electrical energy to cowl our complete North American footprint.

Then the phrase sustainability began cropping up. And I keep in mind having this dialogue with one among my bosses again, possibly 25 years in the past, and we’re like, “Do not say sustainability to the administration as a result of whenever you discuss to them, their eyes gloss over they usually do not know what you stated. Discuss company citizenship or one thing like that!” And at this time, now all people talks about sustainability and there is all of those rankings. You’re rated on ESG rankings and rankings just like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, for instance, and MSCI. There’s all these totally different rankings which are on the market. And all people is aware of about it. I imply, our CEO, he is aware of about it, he’s on this stuff. 

So it is actually a fairly wonderful place with this journey of sustainability and the place we at the moment are, and the way essential it truly is for individuals who lead sustainability in an organization. My boss reviews as much as the CEO, the chief government. I imply, that is how essential it’s to the company.

Metzger: What do you hope to see in 2022, not only for Estée Lauder, however for the sustainability enviornment total? 

Iannuzzi:  I hope to see extra traction. A number of firms have been criticized for setting long run targets, like 2050 targets, and never exhibiting actions, like a brief time period motion plan. So I feel what I would wish to see, and I do know we need to do that too, is transition plans to a low carbon economic system. And I need to know, what are the levers you are going to pull? What are the initiatives you are going to execute on? And to see extra recordings of precise accomplishments and initiatives. 

For instance, final 12 months, we acquired a digital energy buy settlement going. We enabled a 22 megawatts wind farm to be in-built Oklahoma, which offers sufficient electrical energy to cowl our complete North American footprint, so all of our electrical energy principally that we use in our dwelling base. We’re primarily based out of New York Metropolis and now we have massive manufacturing operations in Lengthy Island and elsewhere in the US they usually’re lined by the renewable electrical energy that is going into the grid.

So extra of these sorts of initiatives, not just for ourselves but in addition for like-minded firms, or really all firms. I wish to see it in our suppliers and people sorts of issues, so extra of those tangible, actual initiatives. I feel that is the place we have to go and I feel that is the place we’re all heading. So I would wish to see much more of that and simply stronger commitments on sustainability basically and extra fact-based, science-based enhancements you could communicate to.

The above Q&A is an edited excerpt from the Bard MBA’s Feb. 18 The Impression Report podcast. The Impression Report brings collectively college students and college in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in enterprise, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Hearken to the full episode.

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