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.
Tina Morefield: As Director of Corporate Citizenship for DIRECTV, one of the world's leading providers of digital television entertainment services, I lead our U.S. strategy for community outreach and charitable giving, which is focused on K-12 schools and STEM education, as well as employee volunteerism. In addition, my team produces DIRECTV’s annual report on Corporate Social Responsibility, which communicates the company’s Corporate Citizenship, environmental sustainability and people initiatives, and is aligned with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.
I joined DIRECTV 15 years ago, starting my career in corporate communications. In 2004, I added responsibility for Corporate Citizenship and led a combined Communications & Corporate Citizenship team for seven years before focusing solely on Corporate Citizenship in 2011.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
TM: Our corporate social responsibility program has been evolving steadily over DIRECTV’s 20-year history, beginning with a handful of charitable giving programs for employees. In 2006, spurred by interest from our Board of Directors, we drafted our first strategic plan for Corporate Citizenship and began reporting progress to the Board on a regular basis. In 2011, under the leadership of our current Chairman, President & CEO, Mike White, we accelerated the pace of our journey, creating a dedicated Corporate Citizenship function within HR & Communications and launching an Environmental Sustainability function within Operations. Since then, we’ve refined our Corporate Citizenship strategy, created a thriving volunteer culture among employees, established a cross-functional Sustainability team and overachieved our initial goals for greenhouse gas emissions and product efficiency. Today, DIRECTV is proud to have received national recognition for its efforts to be a socially and environmentally responsible company.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
TM: I would not be where I am today without DIRECTV’s Vice President of Communications. Since Day 1 (back in 1999) she’s believed with me that the then-fledgling DIRECTV would one day be known as a good corporate citizen. She’s also believed in me, encouraging my development and creating numerous opportunities, including my transition from communications to corporate citizenship. She is a champion of corporate social responsibility, and she’s been instrumental in marshaling support for it from key people across the company.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
TM: “Start small, make an impact and grow from there.” I’ve always had big dreams for Corporate Citizenship at DIRECTV, and when given the chance to advance our efforts to the next level, I wanted to do something on a national level that had high visibility – and was very expensive – right out of the gate. But our Chairman, President and CEO, Mike White, guided me to start by doing something local that produced credible results and then scale from there. That’s how the DIRECTV Math Challenge was born. We funded a handful of turnaround schools in Los Angeles for their continued use of an online math learning program, and we encouraged students, teachers, principals and parents to propel math achievement through a contest with unique DIRECTV incentives. One year later, we have strong, classroom-specific evidence to point to, and we’re looking to expand the program to other cities for the 2014-2015 school year.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
TM: Three months ago we received the good news that DIRECTV had been named to Bloomberg’s Civic 50 list, which means that we are one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the nation. It’s a rigorous participation process, and we’d failed to make the list on our first attempt in 2012. What I’m most proud of is the fact that we received this recognition because our submission captured the collective efforts of many DIRECTV employees who have worked hard to establish our company’s reputation as a leader in this space. Whether it’s in the United States or Latin America, and whether it involves our environmental, social or governance work, we’ve pulled together and created something special.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
TM: I’d ask everyone involved in public-private partnerships to focus more on measurable results that can be accomplished when each organization leverages its unique resources and talents. It’s so powerful – and effective – when the end goal is making an impact rather than increasing the dollars donated/raised. When both sides are invested in a successful outcome, it’s nearly impossible to keep it from growing. And that growth will naturally drive increased financial investment.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
TM: My perfect day on the job would have me out in the community making a meaningful impact on someone else’s life. It could be surprising inner-city high school students with a visit from Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Oprah Winfrey, renovating the lounge area for teachers at a school that serves special needs students, or building a playground for underserved kids (all of which I’ve been fortunate enough to do with DIRECTV). The icing on the cake would be for me to share these moments with my family, including my parents, my husband and our preschool-aged daughter.
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.