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.
Suzanne Fallender: I’ve been working on corporate responsibility and socially responsible investing issues for over 15 years. I’ve worked in Intel’s Global Corporate Responsibility Office for the past six years as Director, CSR Strategy and Communication, managing our CSR reporting and engaging with internal and external stakeholders on strategy and performance improvements. Starting in June, I have had the opportunity to focus in on one of Intel’s key corporate responsibility focus areas – expanding education and technology access for girls and women as director of Intel’s Global Girls and Women Initiative.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
SF: Over time, corporate responsibility and sustainability at Intel has continued to become more deeply integrated across the company with more groups directly engaged on a day-to-day basis – from our supply chain organization to our sales and marketing group, to our human resources and our product design teams. We have integrated these concepts directly into our company’s vision and strategic objectives, our governance and management structure, and even our employee and executive compensation.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
SF: Many people have impacted my journey, but the one person who has affected my sustainability journey the most would be Dave Stangis, who currently leads corporate responsibility at Campbell's Soup Company. Dave hired me into Intel when he was the Director of Corporate Responsibility here, and has always been extremely generous in sharing his knowledge and expertise. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to learn directly from one of the best thinkers in the field.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
SF: Invest the time to build strong two-way stakeholder relationships – both inside and outside the company. Much of the job of a CSR practitioner involves supporting and influencing others, and the best way to do this is to build a strong internal network so you can help connect people with each other and to the resources they need to be successful. Externally, I have found that taking the time to exchange best practices with other companies, investor groups, and NGOs helps advance adoption and understanding of best practices in the ecosystem more broadly and also helps broaden my own knowledge and thinking that I can apply within Intel.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
SF: I am very proud of our new Corporate Responsibility Report, which we just recently released on our website. I see this year’s report as an important contribution to the discussion around new options and approaches to the concept of “integrated reporting” and highlights the many contributions of our employees make to our sustainability and corporate responsibility objectives. I’m also very proud of Intel’s recent investments to improve education and technology access for girls and women to drive economic opportunity, in particular, our partnership with 10x10act.org on the launch of the film “Girl Rising” and related social action campaign. I’m excited that I have the opportunity to work directly on this issue moving forward, since it presents a significant opportunity to drive meaningful positive social impact as well as business value over the long term.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
SF: I would continue to invest in efforts to better measure and communicate the impact of corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives – both the business value and the social impact created. We’ve engaged a number of people in our corporate finance group who are doing some great work in this area already, and are working with external groups on improving sustainability reporting, rankings and shared value measurement. But it’s still a struggle – and much more work is still needed to make this information more measureable and actionable.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
SF: Outside of work, my perfect day is hiking somewhere in the Arizona desert with my husband and my camera.
Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at email@example.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.