gb&d: You’ve held many positions over your 30 years at EY. What experiences have most informed your values and leadership style?
Leisha John: I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible. I’ve worked in so many parts of the organization that I know our culture well, and I know what skills are necessary to lead. We’re big, but we’re grounded in our values. We have a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and everyone’s opinion matters. I have an EcoCare network of 800 volunteers in the United States, and I have my green champions in various departments. They help me get my initiatives done.
gb&d: Engagement can be a challenge at any organization. What have you seen work well?
John: We try to make real operational changes that make a difference. In the US, for example, we have 80 offices, and we’ve moved to an operational standard called Print Plus. This requires our people swipe a badge before they print, and it’s had a significant impact on reducing the amount of paper we use.
gb&d: What takes most of your time?
John: These days, I spend a good portion on reporting. We measure our annual carbon footprint, and are greening our operations. It’s becoming more and more important to be transparent. Last year, I worked to harmonize EY’s sustainability reporting around the globe to make it more consistent.
gb&d: What can the industry do better?
John: We all need to raise our game around reporting and focus on getting deeper instead of just reporting on the information that is most readily accessible.
gb&d: What major trends are you seeing?
John: I’ve noticed a push from millennials, from the young people that come and work at EY. They want us involved in these green efforts. It’s coming from clients and from employees. Also, it’s not just large and leading companies anymore—it’s small and medium-sized organizations as well.
Read up on the rest of our 10 Most Powerful Women in Sustainability here.