Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Cecily Joseph: I am the senior director of corporate responsibility for Symantec Corporation, a global leader in security, backup and availability solutions. In this role, I oversee Symantec’s corporate responsibility (CR) efforts, which encompass environmental, social, and governance program development, integration and alignment. I drive the global implementation of community investment efforts, sit on Symantec’s executive diversity steering committee and oversee the communication of the company’s CR strategy and activities to a broad variety of stakeholder groups. I also serve as liaison to Symantec’s stakeholder advisory panel. I joined Symantec in 2005 after 13 years with VERITAS Software. In my previous role with VERITAS, I led the company’s legal affairs and served as executive director of the VERITAS Foundation.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
CJ: I have been with Symantec for about eight years, and during this time have seen our sustainability program evolve to become more formal and fully integrated with the company’s business purpose. When I first joined Symantec, there were some great teams conducting work on a regional level, but there lacked a global, cohesive approach. We worked to develop a more intentional, international approach, while also being careful to preserve a regional outlook. We are very sensitive to the fact that different regions have different priorities and needs when it comes to creating sustainability programs.
In order to take our sustainability program to the next level, we joined the United Nations Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative for businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. We adopted this framework as our global approach to sustainability.
From there, we began official reporting to identify material issues and focus areas. Through these efforts we began to develop individual programs relevant to Symantec, building out our own enhanced environmental framework and program pillars – IT infrastructure and green IT, conservation, transportation, software packaging and delivery. We built green teams, created a stewardship council and conducted Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reporting. Through these strategic efforts we developed programs with measurable outcomes, regional areas of focus and a global framework to tie all initiatives together. We have taken this approach not only for sustainability, but also for our other CR focus areas.
Concerning gender and diversity, for example, we adopted the Women’s Empowerment Principles, created goals around the various principles, and therein became much more formal and intentional around our approach to increase diversity at Symantec and empower women to work in technology.
Cyber awareness is a major focus for Symantec, given our business purpose of managing and protecting information online. We plan a variety of community events around Cyber Security Awareness Month and cyber awareness in general, using every opportunity to educate people about how to be safe online and protect themselves against cybercrime. We provide a variety of educational tools and information to empower individuals and support victims of cybercrime. While this endeavor may simply seem like good business, it extends beyond that into CR when we provide free products, software and support to help protect the people who matter to us and their information.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
CJ: The person who most affected my sustainability journey was Mark Leslie. Mark was the founding Chairman and CEO of VERITAS Software. During his tenure as CEO, the company went from 12 employees to 5,500 employees deployed globally, and from a revenue base of $95,000 per year to $1,500,000,000 per year. In 2000, VERITAS was the 10th largest independent software company by revenue, third largest by market capitalization and achieved the distinction of becoming a Fortune 1000 company. Mark was the very first person to approach me and ask me to consider a career in CSR. He thought I would be well-suited for this type of role, and that the company should begin building out a CSR program. Mark influenced me because he gave me the opportunity to build and explore this program. It was because of Mark identifying a CSR career path for me that I moved away from my work as corporate attorney into this very fulfilling career.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
CJ: The best advice I have ever received is from my dad, who told me to keep pushing forward, to always keep pushing the boundaries. This advice is so relevant for CR work, because all of us are continually trying to move our companies and society along. Even though it can be challenging, and sometimes you may think you’re the only person or the only company pushing, you are rewarded when the company makes progress. I think about and am inspired by my father’s advice to keep on pushing, don’t ever give up, always keep moving forward and push against the barriers.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
CJ: I am really proud of the fact that, under our new leadership at Symantec, we are rolling out a new company mission and objectives and that CR has taken a prominent role in this effort. We are focused on operating a business with integrity, being respectful of the environment and maintaining a commitment to a positive social impact. These principles guide how we run our business for all of our key stakeholders, and they are principles we can be proud of.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
CJ: I’d like to see more software and technology companies work collaboratively on solving social issues. We’re all working separately on issues that are very important, but imagine the impact we could have if we committed to working together!
3p: Describe your perfect day.
CJ: My perfect day begins with a great team meeting; seeing the team come together to share ideas about what is being done to drive CR company-wide is so fulfilling. Participating in discussions within the business, either at the executive level or with different business groups is also rewarding. I enjoy working with these different teams to help drive CR initiatives within specific areas of the company.
Another part of my perfect day is when Symantec receives support or recognition from external stakeholders around the CR work being done. Our team works hard, and to be recognized for these efforts is the perfect motivation to keep moving forward, to keep pushing on.