by Emma Cochrane, Alice Morin; HEC Paris

Panel with Laurence Cuvillier, Journalist, France 24, Marie Guillemot, Member of the Executive committee, KPMG France, LuzMarina Martinez Correa, Hub Lead for Global Business Services, ABB Mexico, Florence Pourchet, Head of Hispanic Latam, BNP Paribas, Javier San Juan, President and General Manager, L’Oréal Latin America

Climate change is the most important challenge that humankind is facing today. It is a gender-related issue because women around the world depend on natural resources for their livelihoods.

It is no longer ‘climate change’ but it has become a ’climate emergency’ and there are still governments that deny that climate change exists – as highlighted by Laurence Cuvillier at the “Diversity Unleashed” session.

But how important is climate change? Are women pushing towards climate change actions? How is gender important in those situations?

Climate change is important for all humankind, however women are disproportionately impacted as victims of climate change. Observations showed that 80% of the victims of migration are women: they are impacted 4 times more than men. The difference when compared to men is that women are paying attention to children and want to take actions for their future. This is not a gender issue as the beginning, but women have real impact at the end.

What are businesses doing to address this climate emergency? How are sectors increasingly linking to climate change?

Pressure from tomorrow’s generations, as well as consumers makes it imperative for businesses to take a sustainable approach. Consumers are demanding action concerning packaging, the substances used as well as the processes of production. Outdated methods are not an option anymore: businesses must have better impact and accelerate internal processes.

“Change is coming from our consumers, from our children.”

Such a significant focus on sustainable models allows businesses such as L’Oréal to ensure sustainability across the production line, supply chain and more – explains Javier San Juan. Programs such as Sharing Beauty for All, results of which will be shared in 2020 are targeting the whole process from sourcing to distribution. Women are increasingly involved given their ability to focus on long term goals for the company – while numbers and profits define the past, L’Oreal is imposing concrete initiatives to ensure a better future – such as 50% of bonuses based on sustainability for managers. The Latin American region specifically requires companies to be active given that governments have not made the environment a priority.

“Costs is the wrong discussion because the cost of not doing it is much more expensive.”

Companies must also incorporate and leverage clean technology, as is the case for ABB Mexico. The construction of these technologies, explains Luz Marina Martinez Correa, is done by a diverse set of people to ensure the myriad perspectives cover all and every concern plausible. Doing so has allowed ABB Mexico, for instance, develop equipment that avoids contamination.

‘We need to continue and accelerate the implementation of change towards more renewables and eliminate contamination”.

Banks also play a crucial role, as explained by Florence Pourchet of BNP Paribas. With climate and sustainability as part of the group’s priorities, BNP stopped support for companies working in shale oil or projects in the arctic region. Similarly, finance of the future must be more focused on the right things such as ethical and green energy and a rejection of projects that do not correspond with a business’s values – even if this is not an easy business case. Moreover, banks can also support companies in transition, as well as push clients to be greener by making them pay more if they are not green. BNP Paribas, for instance has already invested 100 million of capital in startups for energy storage.

As Marie Guillemot points out, leadership also plays an important role within businesses. If we look at the CEO agenda: there is a clear priority on climate change with a sense of urgency in board rooms. 8 out of 10 male CEOs want to change strategy to incorporate be more climate friendly – paving the way for better structures and mindsets.

Finally, governments and businesses must act together to take action – shifting  efforts on individual basis to collaborative action based on networks. Marie Guillemot believes that the radical shift should be in the way we address this topic. We need to work as a network with companies and share best practices. Efforts such as the Daring Circles thus become important, because they are not ‘think tanks’ but ‘do tanks’.

‘The radical change will come through us.’

 This article is part of a series on #WFAmericas. Watch the full session on YouTube.

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