The last time I wrote I was finishing my work with the “Health Professionals Declaration” and wanting to transition my focus to the Retail/Fashion industry to making their operations more sustainable. I am happy to say that I was able to do just that, by working alongside the new BCL sector dedicated to Retail and Fashion known as the Fashion Industry Action Team “FIAT”.
Similar to the “Health Professional Declaration”, the FIAT group is dedicated to connecting with corporate leaders within the fashion industry, such as Chief Sustainability Officers, Governance, etc, to encourage their overall industry to mitigate climate change by accountably incentivizing sustainable business practices through signing a declaration. Ultimately, doing so will urge members of Congress to enact climate solutions in an effective, bipartisan, economically supportive, and equitable way by the end of 2021. I worked alongside this group predominantly within the declaration’s outreach. With this, I researched a list of clothing companies that were leading in sustainable fashion and operations. My strategy was to connect with the people who were in charge of their organization’s sustainability efforts, as I assumed they would be the most knowledgeable about climate issues, and the most willing to sign up. I cultivated a spreadsheet that specified over 25 retail companies, each person in charge of the company’s sustainability efforts, and their email address contact. Furthermore, I utilized LinkedIn to additionally message and get in contact with these key players in effort to set up a meeting with them and discuss their companies’ efforts to become more sustainable through signing the declaration.
Since beginning my work in this area, I will say that while it has been challenging getting in touch with retail sustainability stakeholders, I have made smaller accomplishments that I realize upon reflection. One example of this is creating my own research database of companies and scoring sustainable initiatives that I can refer to in the future and share with others. The hope is for me to one day simulate these initiatives within smaller mid-sized retail companies and integrate them into other industry practices as well. The FIAT “Fashion Industry Climate and Carbon Pricing Declaration” is now live and it has gotten great traction and coverage! Here is an article by ECOCULT that mentioned the fantastic work that this team is doing. You can find the declaration here. Please share this initiative with others.
I am so happy to have begun working toward my career passion, engaging and consulting with the fashion industry to better the practices within sustainability. I have learned so many new methods and ways this specific industry can find better alternative operational practices, which has inspired me to think about how other sectors can additionally integrate similar practices into their industry as well. In relation to personal growth, I have become more proficient and confident in my ability to reach out and network with people surrounding a cause. Before I was hesitant to ever do something such as sending a message to someone on LinkedIn, now I do it with a breeze. Additionally, within networking with an array of different people I have been able to strengthen my storytelling skills. What used to take me 10 minutes to explain, regarding my work for the summer and purpose, now takes me 2 minutes. This ability to pitch something quickly is a skill I know I will need for my career journey but most importantly is a universal skill that can be applied to life. My goal for the remainder of my time is to continue outreach work alongside the FIAT group and begin recruiting other students of color within the BCL internship program.
While concluding my work with the FIAT group it was heavily on my mind to pass along this opportunity to someone else. As a Black American Environmental Major, I have noticed that there are not a lot of people of color within this field, so I felt it to be imperative that I made a more long-lasting impact, within this important area increasing inclusive perspectives and experiences, by connecting other Black and other POC students, interested in environmental studies, to join the Business Climate Leaders. With the additional encouragement of my mentor, I went to action utilizing my research, network, and outreach skills to compile a list of the top 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities “HBCU” environmental programs in the country. I then found each school’s Department Head of Natural Sciences, collected email addresses and sent out outreach emails with the opportunity enclosed. For each school that I did not get a reply to, within a week and a half, I sent a follow-up email. I am so happy that I took on this initiative as a whole, because the response and support from the amazing Black and other POC faculty were amazing, who essentially all told me they would “most definitely” encourage their students to join. I was even additionally able to pass along the BCL internship opportunity to an amazing student of color here on the Brandeis campus, which made me even more proud of my impact. Currently, I am drafting a blog, that speaks to the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, as the #1 leading contributor to global pollution. You will soon be able to find my post on the BCL page.
Since the age of sixteen, I have always known that I wanted to help businesses become more sustainable through investment in eco-friendly innovations. My time throughout college has been a journey to figure out just where exactly I start in this unpaved career field, at the time. Upon finding Business Climate Leaders and working with this inventive organization of pioneers, I must say that I have begun to find the pavement on the road headed to my career goal. I have had an amazing opportunity to be mentored, connected, and well-in touch with sustainable leaders that I have always dreamed about in their position. I have been able to become a fearless leader in engaging large Health Professionals and retail business leaders on the importance of climate change and advocacy for carbon price dividend legislation in order to increase their contribution to making a healthier environment across the nation. I would have never thought that this opportunity was one that would help me toward the initial steps of my career journey ahead.
My time at Business Climate Leaders has been an amazing experience, which has strengthened leadership skills in research, outreach, communication, and networking, while also enabling me to affirm my desire in working corporate sustainability. Ultimately, I know I want to become a Chief Sustainability Officer of a retail company, to help lead the way of adopting sustainable innovations and substitutes within operative practices.
My name is Sonali Anderson. I am a rising senior at Brandeis University majoring in Business and Environmental Studies, and I am working with an organization called Business Climate Leaders “BCL”. BCL is a non-profit syndicate group that mobilizes large American businesses to take climate action through nonpartisan climate advocacy. I have the amazing opportunity to help this organization further its efforts within climate justice through engagement within different business sectors. Our shared goal is to help large industries recognize their own contribution to climate change and the importance of advocating for carbon price dividend legislation. In return, we all can make a healthier environment across the nation.
During my time with BCL, I have been tasked with helping this organization within the health sector launch their “Health Professionals Declaration”. This is a document for medical professionals (doctors, veterinarians, nurses, etc.) that brings awareness to this particular industry’s contribution to carbon emissions along with how they individually can make a change by advocating for carbon price dividend legislation within their very own practice. I have learned that this is BCL’s standard first step approach when beginning to engage with a new sector. My responsibilities have been meeting/engaging with as many nurses, dentists, public health professionals, etc that are within the BCL network to sign HCP Declaration. Also, I have been strategizing ways in which this Declaration publication and messaging can be viewed by larger groups who have connections within this specific sector via social media platforms such as (LinkedIn and Facebook) as well. Specifically, in helping with social media outreach, I devised a plan in which it highlights different approaches BCL can implement to increase the amount of recognition of their efforts. This plan is flexible so it can be applied to any other new sector BCL takes on! From my work in completing this initial project, I have helped BCL amass over 1000 Health Professional signatories to the “Health Professionals Declaration”. Ultimately, this has allowed the awareness of BCL in regards to carbon legislation advocacy to increase within this sector.
There are many different sectors in this work ranging from energy and power to food and beverage. As a double major in Business and Environmental Studies, I hope to have a specific focus on the Retail/Fashion industry in relation to making their operations more sustainable. By engaging with this specific sector, through an approach I can begin to further the impact of my work by additionally learning and suggesting ways in which these large companies can reduce their carbon footprint within manufacturing, production, and distribution.