The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022: #RedefiningPower - Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company, Switzerland
"The business case for gender diversity is now well established: a diverse culture increases our chances of winning. But there is still a big gap in women holding C-suite positions, with less than 10% of the Fortune 500, and only one female CEO among the top 40 companies in my home country France. We need more women who can in turn be role models for future female leaders. Women empowering women." - Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company
With over 30 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in Brand Management and Innovation, Virginie has a broad experience across multiple categories and global to local brand management expertise across several of P&G multi-billion dollar brands (Pantene, Ariel/Tide, Pampers) with international experience spanning North America and Europe.
Prior to her current position, she was the Western Europe Franchise Leader for Ariel, one of P&G's largest brands, where she turned Ariel into the leader in Sustainability through the launch of the highly successful “Cool Clean/Turn to 30” campaign and the most sustainable laundry product (Excel Gel). Beyond her brand and innovation expertise, she is also recognized for her visioning, change management and leadership development skills.
In July 2011, she recommended the creation of a new position -- Global Sustainability Brand Director, working across all P&G business units and regions. Her mission was to embed sustainability into the innovation, brand-building and everyday business practices at P&G.
In July 2016, she was promoted to Vice President of Global Sustainability, in recognition of the work she has led to make sustainability a core business strategy, an innovation driver and a catalyst for a more resilient organization. She is the architect of the “Ambition 2030” goals, an industry-leading roadmap that is transforming how P&G integrating sustainability across its supply chain, innovation and brand building. Virginie has received the 2018 Women Leading Award from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and was selected as one of the 25 women shaking up the climate movement in 2020. In 2019, she became the first P&G Chief Sustainability Officer.
In addition to her current role, Virginie is also a certified coach and a non-executive Director of Verallia, an SBF120 stock listed company and a member of several Advisory Boards including SB® (Sustainable Brands), Sustainable Management School (SUMAS), and Appareal (sustainable fashion start-up).
Q: What is the importance of women's leadership in today's society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, Climate, and Conflict, and their deadly consequences?
The business case for gender diversity is now well established: a diverse culture increases our chances of winning. But there is still a big gap in women holding C-suite positions, with less than 10% of the Fortune 500, and only one female CEO among the top 40 companies in my home country France. We need more women who can in turn be role models for future female leaders. Women empowering women.
Q: What role do you believe women in leadership positions have to play in helping companies and brands transition towards sustainability and circularity, and why is this important?
We should be the “internal activists”, using our intuition, our power of influence, our talent in seeking win-win solutions and our grit to drive change for good. What the world needs most is enlightened and courageous leadership. Courage is the strength of the heart (from the word heart in French). Women are uniquely positioned to lead the charge – a future that allows business and people to thrive in harmony with nature.
Q: What can be done to improve women’s participation in corporate and leadership positions? How do we achieve this?
More women coaching women. More role models inspiring future women leaders. Helping them remember, in the words of Reshma Saujani, that their duty is to “be brave not perfect”.
Q: What does this award mean to you and what significance does it hold to you personally and/or professionally, and your company?
It is an honor and a huge responsibility as I trust awards like this can be a source for inspiration for other women. At P&G, we have embedded sustainability in how we do business and we believe a world with equal opportunity for all individuals is a better world for everyone. I hope that, in the not too distant future, we won’t need to separately reward Chief Sustainability Officers and we won’t need to separately recognize women as this will just be the normal way of doing business, sustainability built-in and men-women equal representation.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022
The SustainabilityX® Magazine proudly announced the release of The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s inaugural Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2022 on Oct 4th, 2022, an inaugural annual list celebrating the powerful work of women in sustainability leadership around the world.
The non-profit digital magazine’s Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ high-level, invite-only program graciously sponsored by the award-winning Canadian construction and engineering firm Belnor Engineering Inc., recognizes achievements of the world’s powerful, groundbreaking female sustainability leaders who’re bridging the gender gap by breaking barriers, shattering traditional stereotypes, and taking the world of sustainability by storm. This campaign is in line with the magazine’s third pillar of sustainability upon which SustainabilityX® is based: social inclusion, which involves marginalized populations and vulnerable communities such as women, persons with disabilities, unemployed youth, LGBTQ+, the elderly, and BIPOC minorities.
“As both a female and one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 In Sustainability Leadership myself, I know how important this is,” says Supriya Verma, founder of The SustainabilityX® Magazine. “The number of women in positions of leadership – from business to politics – are relatively few. With society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, climate, conflict, and their deadly consequences, how can the world advance and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals without having women in decision-making positions at major organizations, political parties, and academic institutions?”
In The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s quest to ‘redefine power’, this is the first international power-list bringing together women around the world involved in sustainability celebrating the power of their work – not their position. This list brings together a diverse group of accomplished women across business, entertainment, academia, law, politics, and beyond ranging from some of the world's leading companies, to independent unsung heroes with one thing in common: using their power with purpose –the power to create change and influence lives to make the world a better place. After all, that's what sustainability is all about. The meaning, or ‘the power’ of one’s work matters, not one’s position in a corporate hierarchy, particularly during this crucial era.
View the full list: The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022
About The SustainabilityX® Magazine
The SustainabilityX® Magazine is an award-winning, digital, female-founded, and female-led non-profit initiative bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue. Founded on May 8, 2016 and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability Leadership awardee, Supriya Verma, the digital media initiative focuses on approaching the world’s most pressing challenges with a holistic, integrated, systems-based perspective as opposed to the traditional and ineffective siloed approach with a single lens on interdisciplinary topics like climate and energy. This initiative ultimately seeks to explore how to effectively bring the environment and economy together through intellectual, insightful dialogue and thought-provoking discussion amongst individuals across sectors taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to untangling the intricate web of sustainability.
The SustainabilityX® Magazine is based upon the four pillars of sustainability: Environmental Stewardship which emphasizes improved environmental health, Economic Prosperity which emphasizes economic growth without the element of capitalism, Social Inclusion which emphasizes EDI for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and marginalized, vulnerable populations, and Just Governance which emphasizes the equal rule of law via responsible political leadership to create fair systems for all. Identifying the diverse factors involved in sustainability, how they interact and how the disciplines are interconnected will help accelerate local, national, and international sustainability goals – in simpler words, aligning with The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s mission of bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue for a sustainable future. Whether you have a background in science, engineering, business, law, politics, media and entertainment, or beyond, your voice matters.
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