To improve ESG results, companies need to ask the right questions: Q&A with Stephanie Dolmat, Senior Director, ESG, Robert Half

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Welcome to the latest article in Robert Half’s Thought Leader Q&A series, featuring insights from the experts who have made our company a great place to work and a leading provider of management solutions. talents.

In this article, we feature Stephanie Dolmat, Senior Director, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), at Robert Half. Stephanie joined the company in August 2021 after nearly five years in ESG and sustainability at Adobe. She has been a sustainability leader in business for more than a decade and is a graduate of Yale University, where she earned a BA in Political Science, and UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Masters. in environmental science and management.

Stephanie describes her role as Robert Half’s Senior Director for ESG: “I collaborate across the company in all the ways Robert Half presents itself as a responsible company. This includes how we promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with our employees, in our supply chain and with our customers; how we act as responsible stewards of the environment; and how we treat people in all of our interactions with the company, including keeping in mind their basic human rights. »

The Senior Director for ESG is a critical role at Robert Half, where corporate responsibility is a high priority. But Stephanie is more than ready for the challenge. “I love what I do, working with people internally and externally to show that we lead with values ​​across the business,” she says. “It’s complex work that never gets boring, I assure you!”

Here’s what else Stephanie had to say during our interview, including what set her on the path to a career in ESG, general trends she’s seeing with ESG around the world business and the huge sea creature she hopes to see in the wild one day:

What inspired you to become a sustainability leader?

It started when I was quite young, I believe. My mother was a big nature lover and she taught me the names of flowers, trees and birds – all kinds of things in nature.

I didn’t realize the impact of this upbringing on me until later in my life, when I was visiting my younger brother at college. He was in his final year at the University of Vermont, earning a degree in environmental studies. I went with him to a few of his classes, where he was learning about sustainability and how it relates to business.

It was just a breathtaking experience for me. I said, “Can you do this as a career?” I was hooked.

What did you do next?

After that whirlwind moment, my brother encouraged me to pursue a Masters in Sustainability. I ended up attending the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I earned a master’s degree in climate and energy and corporate environmental management.

It was such a fantastic experience. The program looked at all the ways in which sustainability manifests itself at the intersection of politics, communications and science. It was a stimulating and interdisciplinary program, and it nurtured my interest in helping businesses on the environmental side.

In fact, I’ve worked for many years on the operational sustainability side – focusing on renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, and working with people to inspire behavior change. Eventually I entered the larger world of ESG, which is really about how all of these issues intersect. How do you coordinate and collaborate across the business to implement change? Thus, operational sustainability and ESG are linked – they build on each other.

Out of curiosity, what did your brother end up doing after college?

My brother, Scott Franklin, was an organic farmer for about a decade and now works for the American Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization that conserves farmland across the United States. He’s running a really cool project right now, helping to establish a local source of rye in Kentucky for distilleries and breweries. It’s good for the soil, good for the farmers and good for the businesses to have a local source of rye instead of importing it from overseas.

Would you say the pandemic has motivated companies to focus more on ESG?

I would argue that the pandemic, as well as the ongoing climate change and social justice movements in the US and around the world, have all helped to accelerate some of the changes that were already happening in many organizations around ESG .

Investors have also pushed hard in recent years to understand what the ESG risks are for the companies in which they invest. These risks are not always taken into account in traditional accounting or even in traditional financial reporting.

And, of course, many employees today want to work for responsible, purpose-driven companies – and they want to see brands doing what they promised to do around ESG.

How do you think companies are doing, in general, to better focus on ESG?

Overall, there has been good progress in developing core programs for ESG – putting policies and initiatives in place. But companies really need to look at the results of these efforts. Tracking and measuring progress is a huge challenge, however, and it’s hard to keep up – as is staying on top of ESG issues, in general, because it’s such a dynamic space.

That said, I’m not sure that companies always ask the right questions about their ESG results. There is a strong focus on compliance that we need to go beyond: “Do we have a sustainability policy? Yes or no ? Businesses need to ask deeper questions, such as, “Do we have a comprehensive plan to reduce our emissions and do our part to contribute to climate action?”

I think companies should also look beyond the numbers to understand how they are developing a more diverse talent pool, to ensure that their workforce is diverse, and to ensure that their workforce reflects our population.

What makes an ESG program successful?

ESG is a highly collaborative effort within a company. Having a governance structure in place to support this collaboration is essential, and it helps if it flows top-down – from the board to the C-suite and then through the organization.

Additionally, it is important to understand how the many different areas of ESG intersect and how the health of each of these areas impacts an organization’s position on the ESG maturity scale.

What type of education or work experience would you recommend for someone interested in taking on an ESG leadership role?

Well, first of all, no one will be an expert in each of the environmental, social and governance areas. We see many people coming into the space with different types of professional and educational backgrounds – but with related or complementary expertise and experience. For example, maybe someone has focused primarily on HR issues during their career, and they also have a background in environmental sustainability that they can bring to the table.

The general trend I see is that companies want to hire people for ESG leadership positions who have the ability to help the organization embed ESG into business strategy and influence change across the business. ‘business. Obviously, there are many ways to learn these skills. So, I’d say someone just starting out would want to focus on building their expertise in a specific area, like DEI or environmental sustainability, and then grow outward.

I would add, by the way, that you don’t have to have ESG or sustainability in your headline to influence positive change in a company. ESG is about collaboration, and every employee has a role to play in helping their organization operate with integrity. Every person’s job can touch on some aspect of ESG, whether they are aware of it or not.

Since your love of the natural world has inspired your ESG career path, you undoubtedly enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors. What are some of your favorite activities?

I like to spend time outdoors in the winter. I was a ski instructor and really loved teaching kids! It’s so good to see the joy on their faces as they slide through the snow.

I also enjoy cycling, and I enjoy cycling locally and taking bike trips because it’s one of my favorite ways to run errands, stay healthy, and see places. Before the pandemic, I took a bike trip through Thailand and Laos. It was an incredible and eye-opening experience.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

One of my dreams is to see a whale shark – the largest shark in the world – in the wild. So anywhere I could see one would be ideal!

Follow Stéphanie Dolmat on LinkedIn.

Meet other thought leaders at Robert Half, such asRyan M. Sutton and Megan Slabinksi. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Robert Half Newsletter for future episodes of our Q&A series and for more unique stories, experiences and perspectives on the latest hiring trends.

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