A little over a year ago, EY alum John Hayes was sitting in his office at New York Life when the monthly alumni newsletter arrived in his email. Inside was an article announcing that EY had just appointed Leisha John as Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability. This news was of particular interest to John, who, as Vice President of Business Resilience at New York Life, just happens to hold a role very similar to Leisha’s. Intrigued, John called Leisha. The two met and discussed the idea of creating a network of environmental sustainability leaders — with the common goal of making their organizations more eco-friendly, and the world a better place for all of us.
In addition to forming the EY Environmental Sustainability Network, our other eco-accomplishments or plans include:
- Saving over 30 million sheets of paper annually by delivering business tax returns to clients on CD
- Introducing “trayless” dining in key office cafés, saving more than 400,000 cardboard to-go boxes
- Starting this year (on Earth Day), eliminating styrofoam cups in US offices, keeping more than 2 million cups a year out of landfills
- Planting 4,500 seedlings as part of a reforestation campaign in Mexico
- Eliminating individual bottles of bottled water at all key meetings in favor of bulk dispensers or water pitchers
- Eventually offsetting the carbon footprint of the 32,000 computers we lease in the US
“The concept of corporate environmental sustainability is relatively new, as are many of us in these roles,” says John, a former audit senior manager in both the New York City and Tampa offices. Leisha, who confesses she was actually feeling a bit isolated in her new role, agrees: “I was very anxious to find others in similar positions to discuss best practices, validate our strategy and gauge where EY’s environmental efforts stood as compared to other leading firms. So I was absolutely delighted when John reached out to me.”
The result was the formation of the EY Environmental Sustainability Network, which includes an impressive lineup of prominent companies. This past January, the network held its inaugural meeting, attended by environmental sustainability officers from 16 diverse organizations, including leaders in the insurance, financial services and retail sectors. “What the network provides is access to other companies — what’s working, what’s not — and the opportunity to share and discuss strategies for addressing common barriers and issues,” says John.
“Picking up the phone and calling her was like calling one of my coworkers. Because I’m an alum, I just felt this immediate connection — it’s like we were already on the same team.” John Hayes
For more information about the EY Environmental Sustainability Network, please contact Leisha John.
To be truly effective in their roles, both John and Leisha felt the need to reach out to their environmental sustainability peers. The alumni relationship just made it that much easier. “I had never met or talked to Leisha before,” says John. “But picking up the phone and calling her was like calling one of my coworkers. Because I’m an alum, I just felt this immediate connection — it’s like we were already on the same team.”