Bold leaders making waves in social impact

Methods used by trailblazing do-gooders who found success in sustainable business

1. Michael Miebach, Mastercard


Mastercard’s CEO Michael Miebach has reimagined what social impact incentivization can look like at major corporations. Mastercard will now tie bonuses for key decision makers and executives to its ESG goals and initiatives. Staff who qualify as “EVP” and above will be appraised on the extent to which they have advanced progress on Mastercard’s key ESG goals: restrict the firm’s use of carbon, improve the financial inclusion agenda and reach gender-pay parity. “We believe these ESG goals, which our seniors have the ability — and responsibility — to influence, will help our business grow and thrive for years to come,” Miebach said. “This change further reinforces our commitment to deepen our culture of inclusion, and ensure people can reach their potential, economic growth is inclusive and the planet can thrive.” Meibach has been a trailblazer in recognizing the way in which corporations’ commitment to environmental and social responsibility is directly linked to their success as businesses in the market.

2. Chris Jarvis, Realized Worth


Chris Jarvis co-founded Realized Worth in 2008 with a mission to develop effective corporate volunteering strategies. His background in nonprofit organizations helped him understand the true value of helping people achieve “seemingly impossible plans.” Today, he is reimagining corporate volunteerism and paving the way for companies to implement volunteering with straightforward strategies. He believes that the key to great corporate volunteering is when the company’s CSR approach strategically aligns with the company’s brand. Volunteering programs have to demonstrate a sense of purpose and commitment on the company’s part to a cause that employees genuinely care about. Jarvis has also emphasized the importance of high participation and teamwork across all levels of the company so as to establish “sameness” among employees.

3. Danielle Azoulay, L'Oréal USA


Danielle Azoulay has been a leader in sustainability within the beauty industry for over a decade. As the VP of CSR and Sustainability for L'Oréal USA, Investing in sustainable innovation isn’t just something she thinks is important for reputation, but rather something that can drive the bottom line. In 2017, she led L'Oréal in its effort to reduce carbon emissions by 73% while increasing product volume by 33%. Azoulay has also targeted earlier stages in the supply chain by procuring sustainably sourced raw materials from small-holder farmers in developing countries. “As the largest beauty company in the world we have a tremendous opportunity to leverage our scale toward maximizing positive outcomes for people and the planet.” She hopes to send a signal to other large companies by building a sustainable future for L'Oréal.

4. Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani


Since the inception of Chobani, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya has believed in the power of purpose. From promoting a climate of positive change to founding an organization that mobilized the private sector for the refugee cause, Ulukaya’s commitment to giving back has been at the center of his business model. From its inception, Chobani has donated substantial portions of its profits to causes that were native to New York and Idaho, where its products are made. Ulukaya has also been a champion of the wealth inequality movement, and contributed to the proposal to increase the minimum wage in New York that ultimately became law. Ulukaya demonstrates the power in companies taking care of their communities. Not only has he successfully fostered a corporate culture of care, giving and changemaking, he has also exemplified what it means to actually care about larger local communities.

5. Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co


Levi Strauss & Co’s CEO, Chip Bergh, has put sustainability at the forefront of the company’s messaging. Throughout the 142 years of history that the company has, Levi has encompassed sustainability in the broadest definition of the term. Bergh’s prioritization of product life cycle analysis has resulted in the Better Cotton Initiative, a plan that works with cotton farmers to educate and raise awareness on sustainable ways of growing cotton. Bergh also launched a line of products called Water<Less, which reduces the amount of water used in the production cycle by up to 96%, which has saved one billion liters of water in the manufacturing process. “We have a number of initiatives against every aspect of the supply chain, if you will. From growing the cotton, to the manufacturing of a pair of jeans, to really trying to influence and educate consumers on the proper care of their product.” Bergh exemplifies a CEO who targets sustainability from all angles.

6. Veena Jayadeva, Guardian Life


As the former Head of CSR and current Head of ESG/Chief of Staff to the CIO/COO of Guardian Life, Veena Jayadeva has always believed in the importance of strategic alignment between corporate values and sustainability initiatives. As a company founded by immigrants, Guardian Life has always focused on empowering underserved communities across the U.S. Jayadeva led Guardian Life in its initiatives to deliver personal finance courses and workshops in support of 15,500+ individuals as of 2020. Jayadeva claims that the most successful CSR programs are those that go beyond donations and grantmaking and provide opportunities to deepen community relationships while strengthening the basis of the company mission.

7. Tim Brown, Allbirds


Tim Brown co-founded Allbirds with minimalism and sustainability in mind. His realization that outdated footwear manufacturing processes relied on low-cost labor and high-carbon mechanisms inspired him to bring in sustainable materials. Brown uses certifications that verify the welfare, ethical and environmental standards of the farms that they work for. They have also implemented comprehensive life cycle assessments at every manufacturing stage to bring sustainability into the product and innovation process from the very beginning. Not only has the company revolutionized the supply chain by choosing natural materials that have never been priorly used for shoes, they have also prioritized philanthropy and giving back to charities like Chinatown Market and World Central Kitchen.

Become a more socially responsible company.