As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, rumors started that sustainability efforts would recede due to constrained budgets, reduced government and investor pressure, potential layoffs and existential threats to entire sectors, and a lack of capacity to focus on the long term with such immediate and urgent competing priorities. Yet the opposite seems to be unfolding: Companies are meeting the moment and maintaining their commitments to sustainability, and the pandemic has further highlighted the need for business to lead in creating lasting systemic change. Learn more about how companies and sectors are advancing sustainability efforts despite resource constraints and share expectations for how that will proceed as we move toward 2021.
Additional speakers to be announced.
Chief Sustainability Officer
A lawyer by training, Alexandra Palt specialized in human rights. She began her career at a law firm and then worked for Amnesty International in Germany and at organizations specializing in diversity, change management, and sustainability.
In 2012, she joined L’Oréal as chief sustainability officer and launched L’Oréal’s first sustainability program, with a set of objectives to be achieved by the end of 2020.
In 2017, Palt was appointed chief corporate responsibility officer, becoming the executive vice president of the Fondation L’Oréal in addition to her role as head of the sustainability department. She became a member of L’Oréal’s Executive Committee two years later. In June 2020, L’Oréal launched its new sustainability program for 2030, L’Oréal for the Future.
Global Head of Impact
The Carlyle Group
In her role, Megan Starr works to design and execute Carlyle’s cohesive, long-term impact strategy. She also oversees the dedicated ESG team, which leads the firm’s investment diligence and portfolio company engagement work on material ESG issues.
Prior to joining Carlyle, Starr was within Goldman Sachs’ Investment Management Division, where she helped build the ESG and impact investing business. Previously, Starr served in roles at The JPB Foundation, a US$3.8B private family foundation based in New York City.
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility
Kate Mikesell serves as vice president, corporate responsibility for Hilton and is president of the Hilton Effect Foundation, the company’s international philanthropic arm. In these roles, she leads Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy, designed to drive responsible travel and tourism globally. During her 10-plus years with Hilton, Mikesell has led external affairs initiatives, including its successful 2013 Initial Public Offering, nine new hotel brand launches, and its 100th anniversary celebration. Mikesell also played an integral role in the creation of the Hilton Effect, which quantitatively illustrated the positive impact Hilton has on billions of lives and thousands of communities around the globe. This piece of work ultimately inspired the creation of the Hilton Effect Foundation, which Hilton established in 2019. Prior to joining Hilton, Mikesell worked for Edelman Public Relations, directing public affairs efforts for health care related companies and initiatives.
Chief Operating Officer
Laura is a global expert on corporate sustainability, with two decades of experience in strategy consulting and has advised senior executives at global companies across a range of industry sectors and sustainability issues.
Laura has also been a leader in BSR’s organizational growth and impact. She launched BSR’s financial services practice and New York office, and she is currently the Chief Operating Officer, leveraging her strengths in strategy, organizational change, and people management.
Laura works with leading global companies to develop and enhance their sustainability strategies to maximize value for business and society. She is sought after to facilitate senior-level strategy workshops and multistakeholder collaborations. She has published reports on environmental, social, and governance trends among investors as well as sustainability integration and leadership. From 2006 to 2010, she facilitated the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, growing the initiative from 15 to more than 50 companies.
Laura previously worked for Deloitte Consulting, where she acquired extensive strategy experience advising multinational financial services companies. She also worked on several community and economic development projects in Latin America.
Laura holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University and a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She is an adjunct professor in the Bard M.B.A. in Sustainability program, a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a member of the UN Global Compact Expert Network.
Follow Laura @LauraGitman.
I felt this conference was life changing. I am truly inspired and am plotting both career and personal changes to live up to the great lessons I learned. Both the sessions and the networking were vital.