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Shining the Spotlight


How the Economist Group achieves change through ESG Goals

Emily Jackson

Senior Vice President – Sustainability, The Economist Group
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Emily Jackson Kessler is senior vice president for sustainability at The Economist Group, one of the world’s most respected media companies. In a recent interview with Joel Makower, CEO and founder of GreenBiz, she discussed several critical issues related to the global sustainability agenda.

The Economist is well known for its intellectually rigorous coverage of climate issues, but it also sponsors several conferences every year, on a wide range of topics. These conferences can involve extensive travel for the participants, as well as other undertaking that contribute to carbon emissions. Kessler pointed out that The Economist Group has signed a pledge for all of its events to be carbon neutral within the timeframe of the Paris Agreement. This includes travel, but also the choice of venues, as well as informing delegates about the most sustainable way to travel to the conference site. And in a nod to the post-Covid world, The Economist Group is also offering virtual events.

Asked by Makower about going further faster in the sustainability journey, Kessler pointed to the need for innovation “across our value chain and across our supply chain.” Importantly, she said, “we can't innovate in isolation. . . . By coming together with others in our value chain we can address the challenges of our time with fresh perspectives with different ideas.”

She also emphasized the need to focus on government regulation, “because we know at the end of the day that our actions alone are not going to save the planet.” The Economist Group, she said, is looking at what it can do across its supply chain to drive more action from other businesses “so that we're working collectively towards the same goal. I think improved regulation for companies is key.”

With so much attention being directed at environmental, social, and governance targets, Makower asked what The Economist Group is doing on the social front. Kessler pointed to the founding of The Economist Educational Foundation eight years ago. It is focused on educating school-age children in media literacy, as well as critical thinking skills for the 9-11-year-olds. “That is key,” she says. “How are kids interpreting the news today? How do they understand the world around them? And how can we put them in a position that they can interpret that and support the climate journey too?” She also highlighted how the company’s tech team in India and the UK teaching women how to code in both countries, under the auspices of a program called Code First Girls.

Looking ahead to the next few years, Kessler says that by 2025 she hopes The Economist Group “will be able to say that we are consistently reducing our impact on the environment, through our carbon emissions, while reducing our footprint, as part of our clear journey towards net zero.” But given that The Economist Group is a media property, she also hopes to “influence our audiences – being able to see that we have made a change and that we have been able to drive action among our readers.”