What does ESG mean – and how to make it meaningful

June 2, 2022 | By Siobhan Stewart

What is ESG? The acronym that has taken flight across industries over the last few years stands for environmental, social and corporate governance – non-financial ways to measure a company’s sustainability and social responsibility. 

“For Mastercard, this is connecting the ‘why’ of what we do, our purpose, with the ‘what’ of our fundamental business strategies,” says Jim Colvine, a senior vice president who helps develops sustainable digital products for the company. In other words, he says, “doing well by doing good.” 

In the latest episode of “Inside the Circles,” Mastercard’s podcast about the future of work and the topics of now, host Latoya Bennett-Johnson sits down with Colvine and Jennifer Merli, vice president of corporate sustainability, to celebrate World Environment Day June 5 and to discuss their ESG efforts, including the Priceless Planet Coalition, the Mastercard-led effort to restore 100 million trees by 2025.

Both Colvine and Merli’s schooling in science — he holds a doctorate degree in microbial chemistry;  she has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and geology — helped prepare them for leadership in sustainability. Now at Mastercard, the two work to answer an integral question.

“How do you define your ESG values from a corporate strategy standpoint inwardly, but also outwardly,” Merli says. “How does that strategy manifest?” This can include products, services and customer interactions.

“Climate is at the top of the agenda because it is so urgent,” Merli says. At Mastercard, that includes Priceless Planet Coalition and committing to net-zero emissions by 2040 and products such as the Carbon Calculator, a consumer tool that estimates the carbon footprint of purchases so people can make educated decisions about how they can contribute to a healthier world, Colvine says.

To hear more from Bennett-Johnson, Colvine and Merli, subscribe to “Inside the Circles” on Apple Podcasts or stream it directly in the player above.

Siobhan Stewart, Specialist, Communications