Yamini is a Director on our Global Responsibility and Sustainability team, based in San Francisco, California. In 2013, Yamini created our Nielsen Green program, which aims to manage and reduce Nielsen’s impact on the environment by driving sustainable operational efficiencies. She is also the co-founder of the non-profit Rewire Community, in the California Tri-valley area, focused on building an empowered and inclusive community, free of cycles of violence and prejudice.
Nielsen’s green story began in 2013 when the company decided that environmental sustainability efforts would be independent from Nielsen Cares, our global social responsibility program. By June of that year, I received the opportunity to start and lead Nielsen Green, our very first environmental sustainability program.
At the time, Nielsen had yet to feel the market push toward sustainable operations. The inception of the green program came with its own set of questions, challenges and, eventually, opportunities. A significant part of my initial journey was education and awareness, a fundamental requirement when building something, that I ensured was part of our program’s seven environmental pillars. This translated to internal assessments of Nielsen operations and data gaps and making connections externally with sustainable leaders in the industry, studying existing programs, and staying current with the most recent climate reports.
We were the new kid in town! And introductions to our associates across our business were needed: “What is environmental sustainability?” ”What does it mean for us?” ”What’s in it for me?” and ”Where do we start?” were all common questions from our associates around the world. This was about working together with our Nielsen colleagues to get moving. I wanted to ensure that a solid foundation was built for the program, and that it was aligned with the vision, mission and three areas of focus that formed the foundation of the program:
- Global: Sustainability does not work in silos, or independent of the needs of the business. It has to be intrinsic to our everyday operations. Connecting with our business leads and teams globally, understanding their goals and strategies, and what they seek to achieve for the business, was necessary. As the concept, intent and impact of sustainable operations became clearer, our Nielsen teams responded. Within our first year, for example, we moved to default duplex printing across all of our offices around the world, a practice that is now a standard company policy. One team, one project, one goal at a time, there has been no looking back!
- Value Chain: Establishing a bilateral relationship with our vendors and suppliers was critical to ensuring that we extend our activity beyond Nielsen walls. It was about committing to overall responsible management and holding ourselves accountable for the teams we do business with. The first year we focused on our suppliers with a green lens, we started by including specific sustainability language in Nielsen RFPs (request for proposals), which was a positive start. Since then, as our supply chain sustainability programs have grown, environmental, social, governance (ESG) has become a significant part of our partnership requirements with our vendors and suppliers.
- Grassroots: Galvanizing the power of our people was the third piece to the groundwork. Driven by passion, a sense of commitment, and an understanding of the environmental crisis we face, associates globally came together at a grassroots level to create Green Teams. These teams identify and lead in-office initiatives, changing our interaction with the environment everyday. Within the first year, there was a 300% increase in the number of offices that were represented by these teams.
In addition to these focus areas, I kicked off our first Earth Week in April 2014, which consisted of five days of green initiatives organized by Green Teams across Nielsen offices. Over 17,000 associates volunteered in this first year, making the message clear that Nielsen was ready for action! This year, we celebrated our fifth annual Earth Week, expanding our focus to more strategic initiatives like electronic waste management, a material indicator for Nielsen. In September 2018, we added another initiative to our repository—World Cleanup Day! With our Nielsen teams and associates at the helm, the green movement continues to breathe life into our sustainability vision.
This has been an empowering, inspiring and revolutionary journey. I believe as a global company, we hold ourselves accountable as advocates to identify and bring awareness to sustainable options, and are committed to driving forward a holistic approach toward this critical global effort. Over the years, our focus has grown to include monitoring the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that matter most to our stakeholders and to our company. And to remain at the forefront of growth, innovation and regulation in this space, in 2017 we brought all initiatives under one Global Responsibility and Sustainability umbrella in an effort to create meaningful impact in our communities around the world.
As we build on our tools and infrastructure to meet these rising demands, we have also sought to design channels that align our initiatives and opportunities consistently across all areas and regions of operations. To that end, we have worked on integrating our sustainability codes into our global responsibility and sustainability strategy by not just identifying environmental efficiencies in our business that impacts the bottom line, but also by “doing right” by the communities and world we live and work in.
We continue to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability through cross-functional collaborations globally and regionally, grassroots engagement with our Green Team champions who embody a rich spirit of community service, and provide an open, consistent and relevant messaging with all stakeholders, to ensure that the ripple effects of our commitment are felt across our entire value chain.
Nature is dynamic and unconfined. We are intrinsically connected to it. Respecting it and protecting it is a fundamental value I hold, as we continue to evolve our strategies through an adaptive ESG approach.
Closing out with this quote: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”