Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
IN-50: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Leslie Marshall
Associate Director
Center for Sustainable Business
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
“Sustaining Sustainability” Podcast Series launched by the Center for Sustainable Business in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

The “Sustaining Sustainability” Podcast Series by Pitt’s Center for Sustainable Business (PittCSB) explores sustainability lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through short (15-minute) interviews with industry managers, academic experts, government officials, and civil society leaders, the PittCSB explores various societal challenges magnified by the COVID-19 crisis. Each episode focuses on a specific topic and builds toward a call to action as we ask our guests to:

1) Identify the problem,
2) Contextualize the issue by framing it with respect to the pandemic,
3) Pinpoint key items we must address to avoid this in the future,
4) Explain what business leaders can do to help, and
5) End with actionable takeaways for individuals.

With an international reach and a global perspective, the Pitt “Sustaining Sustainability” podcast series draws on the expertise of individuals around the world. We learn from each other as we share perspectives and gain insights into how this crisis is unfolding in different settings.

Since launching the podcast on April 10, 2020, the PittCSB has produced 22 episodes, all of which are publicly available for free on the CSB website (linked in the Optional section below). Our guests represent a wide range of sectors and industries, and they hail from all over the world. Every episode features a conversation at the intersection of the pandemic and sustainable business strategy, including:
• Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, New York NY – “What’s Going to Happen to the UN SDGs?”
• Francesco Starace, CEO, Enel Group, Rome, Italy – “Leading an Energy Company in the COVID-19 Era”
• Paul Polman, Co-Founder, IMAGINE, London, UK – “The Urgency of Collaboration”
• Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA – “Resilient Cities Need Strong Networks”
• Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS Group, Singapore – “Finance & Banking during a Global Pandemic”
• Wayne Balta, VP of Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM, Pittsburgh, PA – “Digital Technology for the Environment”
• Astrid Haas, Policy Director, International Growth Centre, Kampala, Uganda – “Urban Infrastructure and COVID-19 in the Global South”
• Mark Cancilla, VP of Environment, Health, & Safety, PPG, Pittsburgh, PA – “Workplace Safety in Essential Industries during COVID-19”
• Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer, Google, Mountain View, CA – “The Role of Tech in Driving Sustainability”
• Carlo Vassallo, CEO, Ferrero Germany, Frankfurt, Germany – “Global Supply Chains, Retail Distribution, and Consumer Behavior”
• Betsy Fisher, Director of Strategy, International Refugee Assistance Project, Minneapolis, MN – “Refugee Assistance during a Global Pandemic”
• Lisa Osborne Ross, COO, Edelman, Washington DC – “Brand Trust during the COVID-19 Pandemic”
• Vipin Sondhi, Managing Director & CEO, Ashok Leyland Limited, Tamil Nadu, India – “Commercial Vehicles and Supply Chain Sustainability”
• Carolina Lobato, VP of Legal, Kinross Brasil Mineração, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil – “Mining and Community Engagement”
• Prof. Edward Freeman, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA – “Stakeholder Theory and COVID-19”
• Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever, London, UK – “Corporate Sustainability Strategy during COVID-19, Parts 1 & 2”
• Kamillah Knight, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Ferrero NA, Parsippany, NJ – “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion during COVID-19”
• Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread, Boston, MA – “Leading with Compassion during a Crisis”
• Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA – “Marshall Plan for Middle America”
• Seema Wadhwa, Senior Fellow & Chief Strategic Advisor, Association of Climate Change Officers, Arlington, VA – “Climate Change and Health Equity”

We track the reach and impact of the Sustaining Sustainability Podcast Series in several ways, including through SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube views, as well as through LinkedIn and Facebook Social Media Impressions. As of January 2021 (covering our first 19 episodes), we had 7,610 total views across all platforms where we publish the podcast--and an additional 17,332 social media impressions on our LinkedIn and Facebook posts.

We also send the podcast directly via email blast to more than 1,000 people on the PittCSB’s email list. This audience consists of business representatives (65.6 %), academics (25.7 %), nonprofit / civil society members (7.5 %), and government officials (1.2 %). This helps give a sense of how useful the podcast has been for external public engagement beyond the University of Pittsburgh campus community

The Sustaining Sustainability Podcast episodes are used in programs across campus as part of students’ co-curricular educational development. For example, as a direct result of launching the podcast, the Pitt Center for Sustainable Business has partnered with the University Honors College to offer a “Sustainable Business Badge” which undergraduate honors students may pursue as part of fulfilling their co-curricular engagement requirements to receive the Honors Distinction on their official university transcript.

Students can listen to podcast episodes and reflect on their experience in writing as a way to foster engagement with the material, drawing connections between their coursework and real-world applications of sustainability principles in business.

Currently, 76 students in the University Honors College Outside the Classroom Curriculum are pursuing the Sustainable Business Badge, which generally includes engaging with podcast episodes.

The interviews conducted through the PittCSB Sustaining Sustainability podcast series continue to inform the PittCSB’s research into the topic of how companies are pivoting or prioritizing their sustainability commitments in light of the global pandemic. For instance, Pitt CSB Director Dr. CB Bhattacharya drew on his podcast interview with Paul Polman to support an argument he made in a short article on the World Economic Forum site: CB Bhattacharya. 15 May 2020. “How the great COVID-19 reset can help firms build a sustainable future.” World Economic Forum. Accessed 18 February 2021. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/the-covid-19-reset-sustainability/?fbclid=IwAR0sRS1h-GF_b7RHFNcDmfH7XDznuF-y19O1F4cv3f3a5kkJU-8wxeIl0wM

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Press release / publication featuring the PittCSB's Sustaining Sustainability Podcast Series:

+ May 19, 2020 – PittWire -- “Keeping Sustainability at the Forefront” -- https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/keeping-sustainability-forefront
+ Sept. 17, 2020 – PittWire -- “’Sustaining Sustainability’ Podcast Returns” -- https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/announcements/sustaining-sustainability-podcast-returns

Press release / publication featuring the PittCSB's Sustaining Sustainability Podcast Series:

+ May 19, 2020 – PittWire -- “Keeping Sustainability at the Forefront” -- https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/keeping-sustainability-forefront
+ Sept. 17, 2020 – PittWire -- “’Sustaining Sustainability’ Podcast Returns” -- https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/announcements/sustaining-sustainability-podcast-returns

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.