Thomson Reuters wants investors to know that corporate responsibility, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion are drivers that support strong financial performance. Combining these function areas into one global department has allowed the team to strengthen its purpose and work closer with business units to achieve measurable objectives and drive financial growth.
Patsy Doerr is the Global Head of Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion for Thomson Reuters. She is responsible for overseeing the company’s corporate social responsibility, diversity & inclusion and sustainability functions. She has held a number of global leadership roles at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, in New York, London and most recently, Hong Kong.
How does Thomson Reuters approach diversity and inclusion?
We’re very passionate about this space. We believe strongly in the business case. As a business exercise, we’ve taken into consideration both the external perspectives and internal pressures.
Thomson Reuters empowers sustainable growth through the diversity of our people, our markets, and our world. Our goal is to build an inclusive culture that drives productivity, innovation, and ultimately bottom line growth and performance.
With our three part approach, we start first by focusing on our people. Employee education and engagement is a big part of program, along with an emphasis on hiring for the future. Next we concentrate on our markets and how we engage with customers, with a particular emphasis on creating transparency and awareness of best practices in the marketplace. Third is to pay attention to our impact on the environment and communities in which we operate, with a focus on measurable outcomes, such as our ongoing greenhouse gas reduction target.
We also believe heavily in the power of partnerships. CSR, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion are a collective effort where we collaborate with other companies to move the needle, helping us all to make a difference. Because of our access to unique data and analytics, we are a thought leader in this space and aim to help our customers and partners with their own programs or initiatives.
Last quarter, we launched a multi-feature report, Seven Reasons the World will be Sustainable which examines the global conflux of drivers that can lead to a more sustainable future. Using Thomson Reuters data, research and analytics, and working with partners across various markets, we determined that there are at least seven pathways which individually and combined can help achieve global sustainability.
With such a large list of global drivers, how did Thomson Reuters choose seven drivers that would make the world more sustainable?
In order to build a strategy that would be useful in implementing a broader CSR program, we had to analyze all the drivers that were material to us. This started with a stakeholder engagement exercise to narrow down the most relevant concerns. We analyzed from the perspective of investors, regulators, and employees, along with outside constituents. This was a massive undertaking but proved useful for determining the drivers.
It was important that we not only captured external factors but gave deep thought to the internal ones as well. We talked with employees to find out what issues they cared most about and discussed ways that we could engage the whole internal organization.
One of the biggest drivers we identified is the role leadership behavior plays in driving cultural change and more sustainable decision-making. You will see Heroes listed as one of the seven drivers. Finding and nurturing leaders who can be strong change agents is necessary in order to achieve global sustainability.
The seven drivers are a statement reflecting our organization, how we partner with other organizations, and our impact on the world.
What are some of the links between sustainability and strong financial performance?
The correlation between sustainability and positive financial performance continues to evolve. Much of my time this last year has been spent talking to the investor community to share our strategy and socialize it amongst fund managers in the investment banking and financial services industry. This might sound like a strange conversation to be having, but there is an increasing interest in the relationship between improving ESG performance and long-term investor value.
There are a number of studies we’ve analyzed that show a direct impact over time in financial performance to positive bottom line gains directly related to CSR, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. This is in line with a variety of indices, such as the S&P. Many of the gains come in the form of employee engagement, productivity, and innovation.
Investors are looking deeper at the financial benefit of sustainability when selecting companies for their investment portfolios. How has Thomson Reuters demonstrated to investors that sustainability is beneficial to the bottom line?
This is an exciting time for us. We’ve integrated sustainability and CSR into our company for many years, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it drives business performance. As a company, there is always an ongoing dialogue regarding how we can demonstrate the positive impacts to investors.
Some of the things we have done include setting carbon emissions targets, assessing our own carbon footprint, and completing cost efficiency exercises that link back to our model of sustainability.
About nine months ago, we launched an internal program called The 5 Simple Steps. The program is a reminder to employees to turn off lights that aren’t in use, print less, and recycle plastic bottles. These reminders help link individual employee efforts to the bigger sustainability goals, as well as help demonstrate the impact to the organization, the environment and the world.
In addition, we’ve joined several organizations that are heavily focused on sustainability, such as Collective Responsibility http://www.coresponsibility.com/ . This along with our work with the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals keeps us engaged in the global conversation.
As global regulations continue to expand, is there a particular regulation or trend that is impacting your company the most? If yes, what does it mean for companies worldwide?
From the broadest perspective, I would say transparency is in the spotlight.
We see regulators asking companies more often to reveal information about their operations and supply chains. Some want to know a company’s carbon footprint and the plan to reduce it over time. Others want to know that fair labor practices have been instituted throughout the supply chain.
From an internal perspective, what it means for Thomson Reuters is that we need to communicate more internally and externally on the data we’ve already been tracking. Communicating externally leads us to working more with governments and government officials, particularly in emerging markets.
The Thomson Reuters supply chain is very broad. We don’t fit into a traditional company type. We’re a research organization, a technology company, a news organization, and a feeder for other news agencies. We need to continue to refine how we review our supply chain and continually update our supplier codes of conduct., Sustainability metrics are focused on our operational footprint and consumption of resources like energy and water.
Can you share a few examples of what Thomson Reuters refers to as unexpected collaborations?
A great example is the integration of CSR, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion into the internal functions. This is not intuitive to most people. When they see the four areas come together, then they finally can appreciate how it spans across the organization.
There are always unexpected collaborations external to the company. I spend 50% of my time with customers and clients talking about the opportunities and challenges that we all need to be aware of and work together to solve. Often, this leads to new thought leadership and the launch of events.
I would say the collaboration that was most unexpected was the work we have done with governments, regulators, NGOs, and other corporations. All of these entities coming together to solve specific issues and identify key projects on a global scale has been so important.
If companies want to find out more about Thomson Reuters efforts and how they might get engaged, where should they look?
Our website would be a great place to start. There you can learn about our code of conduct and policies, our Trust Principles, and download our PDF on our Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion Policy http://thomsonreuters.com/en/about-us/corporate-responsibility-inclusion.html. You can also review our annual report and learn more about the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
We believe, “we all have a shared responsibility to do business in ways that respect, protect, and benefit our customers, employees, communities, suppliers, and environment.”