Meet Ariel Meyerstein, Citi @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program, Citi is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Ariel will be focusing on assessment questions for Human Rights.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: ARIEL MEYERSTEIN
Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
TOPIC: Workshop 1: Human Rights

A conversation with Ariel:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience at Citi in completing the RobecoSAM CSA for the DJSI each year? 

As the newest edition to Citi’s Sustainability Team, joining in March 2017, I’ve been involved in Citi’s most recent RobecoSAM CSA filing for 2017, but my colleagues on the Sustainability team have long had lead ownership over preparing our overall response and gathering information from dozens of functions across our global company, garnering us a spot on the DJSI World and DJSI North American indices for 17 straight years. Our team also co-leads development of our annual Global Citizenship Report, which summarizes the ways in which Citi enables progress in the cities and communities where we live and work. I manage our reputational risks for human rights and other sustainability issues, so I focus on our CSA responses to the human rights-related questions, parallel sections of the Citizenship Report and various other external stakeholders.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on Human Rights?

We’ll discuss how Citi supports human rights across our entire value chain – for our employees, suppliers, clients and communities in all the countries where we do business. This is a complex and rapidly evolving space that requires us to refine our approach to human rights based on a number of factors. Citi is determined to finding and eliminating human rights violations across our company, supply chain and anyplace else we can influence the human rights agenda.

We also recognize that partnering with our industry and more broadly is critical to improving businesses’ collective approach to preserving human rights. Citi is a founding member of the Equator Principles, a member of Shift’s Business Learning Program, and the first U.S. bank to report to the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

Corporate responsibility efforts, particularly on social issues like human rights and labor, are never complete, particularly as regulatory initiatives continue to proliferate and expectations around action and transparency continue to rise.  As companies work on these issues, we all struggle with how much of our internal story to disclose, particularly for efforts that are always ‘in progress’ or where results are uneven because the issues are challenging. So the trick is to keep tabs on developments, expectations and best practices and find ways to get comfortable with being increasingly transparent about your progress and your challenges so that stakeholders can have greater appreciation for all the hard work you do.

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CAREER BACKGROUND:
Dr. Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
Dr. Meyerstein works in Citi’s Sustainability team, helping to lead the development of policy frameworks and risk management approaches to human rights and sustainability issues. Prior to joining Citi, Meyerstein led multilateral organization policy engagement on human rights, labor affairs, sustainable development and corporate governance for the United States Council for International Business, an association of Fortune 500 U.S. businesses. While at USCIB, Meyerstein launched the Business for 2030 portal, one of the earliest platforms to promote and track business engagement in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to USCIB, Meyerstein spent several years developing expertise in international dispute resolution while working for global law firms and in international courts and tribunals. Meyerstein has served on a number of advisory committees to various U.S. executive branch agencies and international organizations on the intersection of trade, investment and human rights and sustainable development. He was elected a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Ethics Alliance. He has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of human rights law and teaches business and human rights as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. He received his law degree and PhD in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a B.A. from Columbia University in English & Comparative Literature with a concentration in Human Rights. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and two children.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Sustainability Pays, Says Wal-Mart & Some Of Its Suppliers in PBS NewsHour Interviews

As part of the PBS series, “Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change,” the network’s NewsHour reported on how a few large U.S. companies are doing their part to meet climate change challenges…and prospering…even as the Trump White House continues to move toward withdrawal from the historic Paris Agreement (COP 21).

The efforts of the giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores are highlighted in the broadcast.  Wal-Mart stresses that it is striving to be recognized as a corporate leader in the “fight against climate change.”  Kathleen McLaughlin, the company’s chief sustainability officer, is interviewed in the program by PBS correspondent Stephanie Sy.

Says the Wal-Mart CSO:  “…sustainability is core to our mission.  It’s critical for business.  It’s important for customers and communities…”
The company’s sustainability journey was launched in 2005 by then-CEO Lee Scott.  He pledged to curb the company’s GhG emissions by the use of clean power sources, aiming for 100% renewables over time. As part of the effort, Wal-Mart saves energy — and money! — in store operations by demanding more efficient equipment from vendors (for HVAC, lighting, refrigeration).  There are solar installations on 364 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores now — this makes the company the second largest commercial solar power generator.

Wal-Mart plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 2025 by 18% from its 2015 levels, even as it ambitiously expands its retail footprint.  With 99% of the company’s GHG impact coming from its supply chain, Wal-Mart points out that at its encouragement, dozens of its major suppliers have signed on to Project Gigaton (the effort to cut emissions).

One of the company’s key suppliers — candy maker Mars, makers of M&Ms — itself set an aggressive target of “zero carbon” in its operations by 2040, working to achieve zero GHG emissions by that date.  The company’s “vast solar farm” in rural New Jersey is featured in the PBS broadcast.  Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer of Mars, Inc. is interviewed about the company’s efforts.

Key to the sustainability efforts:  Wal-Mart’s model, the way stores are managed, the work done with the massive supply chain partners…all of this “optimizes and lowers the footprint to deliver the same amount of product to people,” explains company CSO Kathleen McLaughlin.  And, she adds, “if you look at the scale and ambition of the efforts and what we’ve actually achieved, I’m actually quite excited about it.”

The company has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) for guidance in achieving its climate change goals.  Responding to the question about is “Wal-Mart doing enough?,” Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund in the interview said:  “The scale of Wal-Mart is hard to wrap your head around.  They can always do more.  What they have shown so far is a serious commitment, and the journey is an ongoing one of improvement.”

Making this story come alive for you:  There is a videotape of the program and the various interviews posted in the print version of the program script in our Top Story that you can view.  You’ll also want to read the various viewer/reader responses to see the perspectives shared by viewers…many opinions were shared, both positive and negative.

“Peril and Promise” is an ongoing PBS series on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change.”  FYI, PBS is the largest non-commercial television network in the U.S.A., with more than 350 local stations broadcasting PBS and their own programming; combined, these reach more than 100 million households. Major stations are located in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Detroit, and many more cities in the 50 states.

Top Stories This Week…

Large companies see payoffs in sustainability
(Monday – September 18, 2017)
Source: PBS NewsHour – This summer, when President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate accord — a voluntary pact to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming — some opposition came from what is perhaps a surprising place: big…