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ESG: Intersectionality, interdependence & business

Keesa Schreane
Keesa Schreane
Director of Risk and Sustainability Partnership. Producer and Host of Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives

Today, many cultural commentators view the world through the lens of intersectionality and interconnectedness – the idea that every person has a range of attributes (race, gender, education, etc.) that to varying degrees determine their relationship to others in society, and their status within various groups. In one group, race might be more important. In another, religion could be the crucial factor.


  1. Business and creating a more sustainable future are interconnected concepts.
  2. There is tremendous upside in driving revenue generation along with sustainability and ESG.
  3. Businesses can rely on their ecosystem – customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders – to support and uplift their intentions around sustainability.

Intersectionality and Interconnectedness

As a black American woman, I’m keenly aware of the role intersectionality and interconnectedness play in our daily lives: how one variable impacts another, when the sum of different parts is perceived differently than one isolated part, and how to lead in situations when intersectionality and interconnectedness are unknown or even frightening.

But how does the concept play out in business?

Some of our greatest innovations are the result of marrying seemingly disparate components to create solutions, acting outside of binary models, and developing deep understanding of each variable to inform decisions. The iPhone is a great example. When it first came out, it was just a phone. Then it became a phone and a music player. Then it became a portable computer that could help you surf the Web, access maps for a trip, and still make calls or listen to tunes. For some, calling is still the most important tool. For others, it’s listening to music. This kind of intersectionality was clearly a good business model, because Apple’s competitors set to work pretty quickly copying it.

To take this idea to another level, think about harmonizing a firm’s products and services with the footprint they leave in the world, the way green or sustainable approaches do. For example, your office window might just be a window, but it could also be a panel that deflects heat in the summer and attracts it in winter, saving energy costs. What if all your products worked successfully on multiple levels like this? This kind of intersectionality is increasingly being seen as a good business practice, hindered only by fear of the unknown.

ESG

Expectations of increased compliance, regulated sustainability standards, and greater competition from open markets may be harrowing and overwhelming for some. Some executives might see a focus on sustainability as a drain on resources, time and capital. Leaders who see the value of interconnectedness, however, have a different perspective and are playing a long game.

Innovation and mindfulness around strategies driving revenue generation combined with environmentally and socially advantageous business practices is becoming the norm, and that’s exciting for these long-game leaders who believe in business intersectionality.

Data shows customers, suppliers, and employees are supportive of businesses that drive revenue, purpose, and sustainability. This means all elements of your ecosystem—talent, technology, and the marketplace—aren’t just holding your business accountable, they are also uplifting it, demonstrating new possibilities, and collaborating with you to bring your best products and your best sustainability efforts to market.

Businesses and the individuals who underpin them are not in this alone. Our ecosystems are interconnected. Business and society are interconnected—they depend on each other for insights, solutions, and purpose.

Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives Podcast

Through the Refinitiv Sustainability Perspectives Podcast, my aim is to spotlight interconnectedness, sharing stories of financial institutions, corporations, and other entities advancing sustainability, governance practices, inclusion, and environmental solutions that also happen to be tied to great products. We’ll show you why they do it, how they do it, and where you can apply their strategies and tactics.

I want to hear from you about the podcast. Let’s leverage our social media channels so you and I can discuss how your sustainability officers, ESG officers, HR officers, C-Suite officers, and you are moving the needle toward a more sustainable future.

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Our future is open. It is inclusive and it is interconnected. Let’s lead with interconnectedness and let’s do it mindfully and fearlessly!

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