Meet 3 Johnson & Johnson Climate Champions
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It’s one thing to set an ambitious goal, quite another to achieve meaningful progress toward achieving it. And that’s especially true when it comes to climate change, “the single biggest health threat facing humanity,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As part of its Health for Humanity Goals, Johnson & Johnson pledged to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025 and to reduce carbon across its operations. The company's global operations are using more than 50% renewable electricity and deals are already in place to reach 100% renewable electricity in the United States, Europe, Canada and Brazil, as soon as this year.
If that sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is. “Using more renewable electricity throughout our global operations is essential to reducing the company’s environmental footprint,” says Sonali Sharma, Senior Director of Sustainability and Engagement, Johnson & Johnson. “That’s a significant step toward reaching our climate goals.”
For Earth Day, we sat down with Sharma and two other climate champions who are helping the company deliver on its goals for a healthy planet to learn more about their passion for the cause.
Designing Sustainable Solutions for a Global Problem
Climate Champion: Sonali Sharma, Senior Director of Sustainability and Engagement, Johnson & Johnson
What inspired her passion for sustainability: Sharma, who grew up in India and Northern Africa and has lived and worked in nine cities across three continents, knows all about the global impacts of climate change.
“I’ve had the opportunity to live in both developed and emerging markets and to work in both corporate and nonprofit sectors,” explains Sharma. This left her with an important perspective on complex societal challenges and a strong belief that companies can play a major role in tackling issues like climate change.
It was when Sharma started to learn more about the connections between human health and environmental health that she knew a job in the healthcare sector was where she belonged. “I’m passionate about helping companies embed sustainability in their strategies, their operations, brands and culture," she says. "What could be more important than doing this for a company that is committed to having a positive impact on both human health and planetary health?”
What her job entails: Sharma manages a team of technical experts and works with other teams across the company to develop strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of Johnson & Johnson’s operations and products. “My role includes delivering against our science-based climate goals so we can continue to support healthy people and a healthy planet,” she says.
Finding opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint of Johnson & Johnson’s products and solutions is another priority for Sharma and her team, who work with partners across the company’s business sectors on initiatives ranging from more sustainable packaging to recycling programs for surgical instruments in hospitals.
The climate crisis is linked to the health crisis. The health crisis is linked to health inequity.ShareDid you like reading this story? Click the heart to show your love.
Additionally, as part of the company’s Our Race to Health Equity initiative—a five-year, $100 million commitment to address the inequities and systemic racism that contribute to poorer health outcomes in communities of color in the U.S.—Sharma oversees partnerships to advance environmental health equity and build climate resilience at healthcare clinics serving communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
What she wants others to know about sustainability: “The climate crisis is linked to the health crisis. The health crisis is linked to health inequity.” Since these issues are interconnected, they require a systemic approach to address them, which means a wide range of people and groups—governments, companies, nonprofits and individuals—must work together to drive change, she says.
Reducing Supply Chain Footprint
Climate Champion: Jennifer Curley, Senior Director of Procurement Supplier Sustainability, Johnson & Johnson
What inspired her passion for sustainability: The great outdoors and her two kids. “I love hiking, camping and running, so nature is something I value as an individual,” Curley says. “Plus, it’s really important to me as a mom to ensure that my children have a healthy planet and that their children will, too.”
During a vacation to Glacier National Park in Montana, her family saw firsthand how glaciers are melting due to global warming. “When you hike to one of the glaciers, it’s just absolutely breathtaking, but then it’s so sad to think they may no longer exist within our lifetime or our kids’ lifetimes,” says Curley.
Research shows that many people see climate change as a far-distant problem or something so large that individual efforts don’t make a difference. “There’s a tendency to think someone else is going to solve the problem,” Curley says. That doesn’t work for her. So she and her family do their part to be environmentally responsible.
Curley brings that same passion to her role at Johnson & Johnson, where she leads the procurement organization’s work to reduce environmental impacts throughout the company’s global value chain.
What her job entails: She leads a team that "creates the strategies for how we work with our suppliers to drive and improve sustainability,” she explains. “That includes both social sustainability—things like human rights—as well as environmental sustainability.” The team helps thousands of suppliers around the world build and deliver their own climate strategies. That includes working with them to complete climate disclosures and holding capability training sessions to help educate them about what they can do to improve their climate impact.
This is especially important in helping Johnson & Johnson reduce emissions from sources that aren't owned or controlled by the company but occur during the production of its products.
“The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to our purchased goods and services are actually far greater than the emissions from our direct operations,” Curley explains. So by influencing its suppliers to take action to reduce their GHG emissions, Johnson & Johnson can drive even greater benefits for the environment, she says.
Why she thinks collaboration is the key to addressing climate change: “The problem is so massive and complex, one company’s progress doesn’t solve the climate crisis,” she says. “But if we collaborate with our suppliers and industry peers and agree on what’s most important and where we need to focus our climate change efforts, we can really accelerate the timeline and the impact.”
Making Climate Goals Measurable and Actionable
Climate Champion: Kinan Tadmori, Climate Manager, Johnson & Johnson
What inspired her passion for sustainability: Growing up, Tadmori knew she wanted to use her love of science to positively impact the world. When she learned about climate change in high school, she immediately knew she’d found her purpose. “As I learned more about climate change and saw climate-related events like wildfires, flooding and hurricanes unfold, I saw that it was disproportionately impacting people who are most vulnerable and already subject to social inequalities—such as low-income communities and women—so I wanted to be part of the solutions to help mitigate and reduce that impact,” she says.
Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree, she set her sights on a career in sustainability and climate change. “I knew I wanted to work for a company that could make an impact on a global scale,” she says.
What her job entails: In her role, Tadmori leads Johnson & Johnson’s GHG emissions accounting and reporting. After all, “you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it,” as she likes to say. Her job entails “a robust data-collection process, performing GHG emissions calculations and assuring it’s quality-checked and reviewed so it can be publicly reported through resources like our Health for Humanity report.” The GHG emissions data is especially important because it helps guide Johnson & Johnson’s climate strategy on where to focus emissions-reduction efforts in order to have the greatest impact, she explains.
Her best days on the job: Spreading knowledge about climate change to people who aren’t as deeply involved as she and her immediate colleagues are. “People on our sustainability team think about this every day—it’s our job,” she says. But for coworkers in other areas of the company, that’s not always the case. So when she’s able to explain the science of climate change, Johnson & Johnson’s GHG footprint and ways in which the company can have a positive impact, it’s especially satisfying. Hopefully, by spreading awareness, it will be in the back of someone’s mind when they have a decision to make that may impact the environment or climate change, she says.
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