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Q&A with Headline Partner The Estée Lauder Companies

19th September 2022 Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability at The Estée Lauder Companies 6 min read

Intro from Helen Clarkson, CEO, Climate Group:

The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has been a leading supporter of Climate Week NYC over the past six years. Throughout their involvement, the company has joined together with leaders to convene on key issues related to what the broader beauty industry and global stakeholders must do to help address climate change. In particular, ELC has actively built relationships out of Climate Week events in an effort to collaboratively make the progress this moment demands. This year is no different and we’re grateful to have such a meaningful and engaged partner return as Headline Partner.

Climate Group’s key themes this year are accountability, justice and urgency. ELC has done great work in all of these areas, most recently becoming the first beauty company to join our EV100 initiative last month when they announced their plans to electrify their corporate vehicle fleet by 2030; we’re delighted that ELC will be able to celebrate the five-year anniversary of EV100 this week.

The Opening Ceremony launches Climate Week NYC each year. This is a chance for heads of state, government officials, CEOs and civil society leaders, to share their global outlook on climate change and action. This year, as our Headline Partner, ELC has played a key role in the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC and will join us in The Hub Live to share why they are laser-focused on reducing Scope 3 emissions by working with peers to innovate new solutions.

After the Opening Ceremony, Helen had a chance to sit down one-on-one with ELC’s Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability, to talk about why the global prestige beauty company is staying humble about what they, and the broader beauty industry, must do to help address and accelerate corporate climate action. They discuss why showing up to the conversation is motivating the company to work harder and faster to make the progress that’s needed to “Get It Done.”

Watch a clip from Helen Clarkson in conversation with Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability at The Estée Lauder Companies, during this year’s Opening Ceremony:

You said in our conversation this morning that ‘no one entity has all the answers’, and we all need to come to the table collectively. What is The Estée Lauder Companies role in the global effort to accelerate climate action and ambition?

At The Estée Lauder Companies, we are committed to meaningfully contribute to the global effort to address climate change. For us that means leveraging our business, our platform as a global company and our relationships with industry peers and partners to contribute to protecting the health of our planet and people around the world. While we’re laser-focused on following the science to reduce our emissions, we also understand that we can’t do this in a silo. That’s why we’re participating in meaningful dialogues happening this week and prioritizing listening and learning from others in this space while also forging partnerships to spur additional research, innovation, and discussions to help push for meaningful action from our industry and our broader global community.

How we’re all going to get there is the topic at hand today, and a significant one. Being back at Climate Week NYC is a reminder that there is more collective action that’s needed to accomplish the critical climate milestones ahead of us in this decade.

In recent years at Climate Week NYC, you’ve spoken passionately about equity and the role it must play when addressing the climate crisis – and today you talked equally passionately about your work with The Solutions Project. It’s clearly a fundamental part of how ELC approaches its climate work. Could you tell us a bit more about the role it is playing in your Climate Action Strategy?

While we all need to rapidly reduce our emissions in service of our goals and commitments, we know that the worst impacts of inaction on climate change won’t be experienced equitably. That’s why an equitable transition needs to be taken into account when building both reduction strategies as well as resiliency and adaptation strategies. At The Estée Lauder Companies, we recognize that the urgent need for action to help preserve of environment must also go hand-in-hand with supporting and partnering closely with local communities. As ELC and the larger business community continue to invest in the technology and infrastructure needed to effectively tackle environmental issues, we must also continue to build a better society, one that serves the many, not the few. Last year, were brought together with The Solutions Project during a panel discussion at the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony where they spoke to the importance of the just transition. Fast-forward to today – we are working together through ELC’s Charitable Foundation. That’s why we come to the table at events such as these, ready to discuss new solutions, inspire fresh ideas for climate action and collectively drive innovations and progress.

We also talked about supply chains – and of course, we’re co-hosting an event on this on Wednesday during The Hub Live. Large corporations can significantly contribute to the urgent need for collective climate action by bringing their suppliers along on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction journey. Can you give us a hint of what you’re going to talk about – where should corporates begin on this issue?

Addressing the carbon impacts beyond a company’s direct operations is one of the biggest challenges and areas of opportunity for global businesses. At The Estée Lauder Companies, we’re committed to working directly with our suppliers to support and encourage them to make business decisions with positive climate impacts. We recognize that educating and upskilling suppliers will be critical to ‘Getting It Done’ this decade. During our The Hub Live session we’ll discuss the importance of tackling Scope 3 emissions through supplier education and engagement and hopefully help inspire others with some ideas for how to take meaningful action within their own organizations. Collaboration and leadership commitment is absolutely critical to mobilize further and faster action in this space.

And finally, we talked about how commitments aren’t enough. But no one is saying that we don’t need them – just that they can’t be the last step a company takes. How are you making sure that you’re accountable to those commitments?

Our ESG commitments are critical markers, offering us the ability to track progress and measurably hold ourselves accountable, but they also enable us to assess our progress and then push us to become better. So, while commitments are important, equally as important is demonstrating how we are going to get there and that comes from how we measure and disclose our progress. At ELC, our commitments are coupled with tangible action and we have a Climate Action Strategy that guides our team on how to get there – one that takes a holistic approach to solving these complex issues. For ELC, this means we are accountable for our 2030 science-based targets and we disclose on progress every year through CDP and our fiscal year Social Impact & Sustainability Report. This is also why we’ve built an internal governance structure and established a Climate Action Strategy which guides our team’s decision-making process and enables us to respond thoughtfully to challenges and opportunities.

At the end of the day, this is a journey, and one we are all on. We need to come together to say, ‘here’s how we met our goals’, ‘here’s what we learned,’ and ‘how can we help one another?’ That’s why it’s so exciting to be back here this year and I’m looking forward to what’s to come this week.

To learn more about how ELC is meaningfully contributing to the global effort to address climate change, visit ELCompanies.com.