Gaby Infante is the director of Corporate ESG (environmental, social, and governance).
Gaby has been with T. Rowe Price since 2020, beginning in Corporate ESG. Prior to this, Gaby was employed by S&P Global as a financial analyst. Gaby also was employed by the Inter-American Development Bank as an ESG specialist and a chief adviser.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the impact podcast. I’m John Shegerian and I’m so honored to have with us today, Gaby Infante she’s the director of corporate ESG at T. Rowe Price. Welcome to the impact podcast, Gaby.
Gaby Infante: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
John: Oh, that’s so nice. And Gaby, before we talk about all the impactful and important things that you’re doing at T. Rowe Price, can you share a little bit about your background and how you even got here?
Gaby: Sure. So it’s I guess I took the long way around of ending back in Maryland and I’ll explain why.
Gaby: I’ve only been at T. Rowe Price for about 2 years. So I started in July of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. Before that I lived in New York. I was a financial analyst at S&P Global. But before that I was employed in a Multilateral Development Bank based in DC and I was actually residing in Maryland. So that’s why I say I took the long way around to end up living in Maryland yet again.
John: Oh, where did you grow up, Gaby?
Gaby: I was born in Mexico city, but I was raised by my grandparents in Southern California. So I have a bit of a mixed background. I’m very grateful for that. So I was exposed to two languages and two cultures at a very early age.
John: Also got your way through some very, very impressive universities. You’re a bear and a bulldog. Can you share a little bit about that?
Gaby: Yeah, that’s actually a really cute way to think about it. So I went to law school in the University of California, Berkeley. I was very fortunate to be able to focus my studies on energy, environmental and natural resource law. And Berkeley has a great program for that, by the way, I highly recommended. And then I was very lucky to have landed a job opportunity in DC. So that was the Multilateral Development back then that I was referencing as things evolved there, I spent about close to 9 years in that place. So in that capacity as an Environmental and Social Safeguard Specialist and Advisor my job eventually evolved and I ended up in the situation where I was supervising a large team. And so I thought, why don’t I go back to school and earn the academic credentials to support what I do in real life anyway, because I think that will give me even more strength when I go to negotiate budgets and just terms of agreements and so forth. And so I decided to go back to school and that’s when I pursued my MBA at Yale University. And again, I was very lucky to have found a program that really suited my interest and my needs at that time. And so I focused on sustainability the second year of the MBA, so great experiences, both of them again, I highly recommend them.
John: When you were growing up, was it sustainability when you were a young woman and thinking about what you wanted to do in your career and your path. Did you think about sustainability or were you thinking of banking or what was your goals as a teenager and then as a young lady in her early 20s? And how did sustainability become really your specialty and your desire of a career path to pursue?
Gaby: Great question. And again, long and winding road, I was always very passionate about the environment. So I knew I wanted to do something relating to the environment, environmental management, environmental impact, something in that vein. And so that’s why I went to law school and specialized in environmental law. However, we need to go back in time a bit and situate ourselves in this was 2010, right. So I graduated right around that time from law school. ESG was not what it is today. And so you have to think about the evolution of ESG in a way back then, even my own employer, I think had this hope that it would eventually go away that it was just a buzzword that would eventually go out of style or something like that.
Gaby: I think that 14 years later, or so 12 years later, we can safely say it’s become something very mainstream. So it kind of happened by accident, right. I knew that I wanted to do something environmentally focused, but I didn’t know that that’s what ESG would eventually become. It would grow, would become this umbrella that would also consider social issues and good governance of environmental and social issues. And that’s where you really come up with that acronym ESG.
John: Got it. Now, you’re the director of corporate ESG at T. Rowe Price, which is really one of the greatest and most iconic brands on this planet in terms of capital investments and things of that such had that role been already established prior to you, or is this a new role that they created and you came in 2020?
Gaby: Yeah, that’s another great question. So newly created role, which represents a lot of opportunities, but challenges at the same time. And so opportunity because I got to walk in and create something new, which I really love. I really find that that is the best way to really test one’s own abilities and to be able to branch out and partner with a lot of different business units and colleagues within the world that is T. Rowe, which is a very vast world. And more so when you think of the pandemic, right? So I’ve had two years of 100% remote work. And so on the one hand we have that, but to answer your question, newly created role. So being able to walk in, create something new, incredible opportunity at the same time, very challenging, not just because of the pandemic, but also making sure that I was capturing people’s interests and needs and really steering the company and the direction that senior leadership wants it to go.
John: That’s so fascinating. And like you said, I mean, you’re sort of like then you’re sort of become an entrepreneur in residence. So basically an entrepreneurial venture inside of a much larger venture, because you’re stepping into a place that there’s no footprints before you, that you’re going to be doing it all from scratch. So talk about your role there, like how you start this role that has been created for you, how narrow or wide do you start? I mean, that’s a fascinating, where’s your starting place and how do you even benchmark that?
Gaby: Yeah. So what I did was not unlike what you and I are doing right now. So I reached out to colleagues and started interviewing them because yes, on the one hand I did build things from scratch, but it’s also true that there was a really deep passion throughout T. Rowe. So people were taking on these environmental and social concerns kind of to the side of their desk, which really speaks to the passion at T. Rowe for ESG, because you already have a full-time job. And then you’re doing this kind of as a hobby, but you also recognize it’s important. So you take on this extra commitment. So that really spoke to me about the deep commitment and dedication at T. Rowe for ESG. So I started interviewing people, really getting a sense of where we were and where we needed to be. And for that, I did look externally look to where our peers were and how we could close the gaps with our peers. Really coming up with a system to benchmark our own corporate ESG footprint and see where we needed to go. And of course, involving senior leadership, every step of the way, like I said, to make sure that I was capturing the vision that they had for ESG. And it’s really interesting because this all kind of moved in parallel tracks with a sort of education process with everything ESG. There’s always that notion that things are very new to people and that’s why they tend to be scary. So how can you approach this from like a client friendly way? Because for me, all of my internal stakeholders in a way are clients. So introducing them to the world of ESG, without it being scary and also capturing the vision for the company,
John: I get doing these interviews over the last 15 years. I’ve really had such a lucky opportunity to interview so many wonderful directors of ESG or directors of sustainability or chief sustainability officers. Is it a friendly fraternity that you get then to access and there a fraternity of ESG leaders across the world that are willing to share best practices with you as you step into this brand new role to help accelerate your learning curve and get down to the work of doing the important work as to why you were hired?
Gaby: Yes, exactly. I mean this, like they say, right, it takes a Village. And so that means not just internally, but also externally I found talking to peers is a great way to have the sounding board of sorts to be able to come up with a common language for ESG, because at the end of the day, we all have the same goals and the same targets. And so it’s really about tailoring that unified vision to your own business and coming up with your own metrics and key performers indicators that make sense for you. But at the same time, it’s this common language for ESG.
John: It’s actually one common planet that we all get to share. So as you improve the planet with all the practices that you’re implementing at T. Rowe Price and as the same leaders in other huge organizations that are in similar positions, as you, as they do the same, we all benefit from all that, that great work anyway. So it makes sense that you’re one big friendly fraternity. That makes a lot of sense.
John: Talk about your work though, so our listeners and our viewers, and for those of you who just joined us, we’re so excited to have Gaby Infante with us today. She’s the director of corporate ESG at T. Rowe Price to find her at T. Rowe Price, you can go to www.troweprice.com and to find their sustainability report, go to troweprice.com/sustainability report. Gaby is part of what you do also a toggling between inside and outside work. What I mean by is, are you both influencing and directing the interior goals with regards to ESG and initiatives inside your own company in terms of getting to net zero and other important sustainability and ESG goals, but also helping the directors who are in charge of investing in T. Rowe Price in terms of guidance, in terms of their investment strategies and the portfolio companies that you guys invest in. Is it a bilateral process that you’re working on?
Gaby: That’s a really interesting question. And again, it leads me to a bit of history telling. So going back in time, T. Rowe price has had a team fully dedicated to responsible investing since 2017. And I did not join until 2020, right? So at some point of that sustainability journey, it’s coming to that realization that as a corporate entity, T. Rowe price needed to define its own views for environmental, social, and governance. And so that’s really where the role came in, the role that I’m occupying currently, that’s where the need for that role was recognized and then posted. And then, as I said, I was very lucky to be able to walk in and fill a newly created role specifically because T. Rowe went through that exercise internally and identified that gap. So while I do not influence that responsible investing team directly, it needs to be both teams need to be in close coordination, right. Because as we were talking about previously, there’s that common language for ESG. So we’re not going to find ourselves in a situation where we would recommend that investing companies do X, Y, and Z, and then not do those things ourselves as a corporate entity, right. So very close alignment and coordination. But my role as director of corporate ESG is focused mainly on providing things like strategic leadership, hands on coordination development, implementation of firm wide ESMG initiatives. And basically what that means is to embed sustainability in the firm’s operations, and then be able to communicate that progress to stakeholders and by stakeholders. I mean, both internal and external. So it’s kind of a feedback loop, I would say where…
John: Right, right.
Gaby: … those coordination and both teams would not do anything in contradiction to one another.
John: Larry Fink comes out about 18 months ago and says at BlackRock the biggest investment firm on the planet capital firm investment capital firm. And it says all of his portfolio companies are now going to have to not only act the right way in terms of ESG goals and put actions behind their words, but they’re also going to have to report on those as you just pointed out the reporting element and that trans radical transparency is critical. And he said, if you don’t report and don’t act the right way, you’re no longer going to be a portfolio company of this firm, similarly at T. Rowe Price, we talk about the word ESG, circular economy, sustainability becoming now no longer just ideas or buzzwords, but becoming long term trends. What does that mean at T. Rowe in terms of driving your sustainability goals as also a huge financial institution and what’s the ripple effect to other financial institutions as well beyond T. Rowe?
Gaby: Yeah. So another great question and super interesting to tackle. I feel like there was a lot to unpack there.
John: There was, but I know we’re in good hands and you’ll be able to unpack it.
Gaby: Right. So I think you need to remember that ESG tends to encompass a very broad swath of issues, right?
Gaby: From our own corporate carbon footprint. And what that means is when you think of our own tangible space, so the tangible footprint that we have, the buildings that we either own or lease or somehow operate. So there’s that, that’s a very tangible manifestation of ESG.
Gaby: Who thinks like labor practices and codes of ethics. So when you look at the SOVSG, I think that is where people kind of get a little confused because it’s a very broad range of issues, right. It’s everything from employee health and safety to human rights, to our own community impact to our philanthropic activities and so forth, right, among many others.
Gaby: How do all of these topics ultimately converge and to address your question? Well, they’re linked in the sense that the good management that you display for environmental and social topics and the extent to which you demonstrate that you have adequate governance of the ENS of the acronym influence your quote license to operate as a business. Right? So as we said, arguably today, ESG thankfully has become more mainstream than buzzword, but there’s also been a lot of valleys in this journey. So for sure there have been peaks, there have been positive and good moments, but it’s also been a bit of a challenge at points at some points , for example, getting our arms around something like Scope 3. Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, not to get too technical, but there is a lot of buzz, a lot of annoys, sorry around that.
Gaby: Currently because of the regulator here in the U.S. and so forth.
Gaby: Just looking at key trends in our industry. So for sure, one of them is really getting our arms around Scope 3, which again, it means anything in your supply chain, any sustainability related initiative beyond your four walls, so to speak. So it’s anything from your commuter travel. So greenhouse gas emissions from commuter travel from your business travel, which was not relevant for the past 2 years, but people are traveling again. So it’s become relevant to solid waste practices to of course, for asset managers, that also means our investing activities. Right. And so that is really the crux of the matter and how we’re all trying to wrap our arms around this and how to do proper measurement and reporting of all of these great things. I really like the Bloomberg Mantra. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. [crosstalk] It’s for sure progress, not perfection, right. And we are still on this journey ourselves, but , those are some of the key trends that I’m seeing. So the whole net zero conversation, that’s in the background by 2050 or earlier social factors for sure have moved to the forefront during the pandemic, but also following the pandemic, just think of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There’s also a push for enhanced diversity equity and inclusion beyond the boardroom and workplace health and safety. Again, with the advent of the pandemic, I don’t think people really stop to think of a concept, as new as healthy buildings, for example, how does infrastructure actually influence your experience in the workplace? So a lot of great conversations going on at the same time. So never dull moment in ESG. And lastly, and I know I’ve kind of mentioned this throughout my response, but ESG data and framework integration, I’ve also seen, have become more mainstream and investors are demanding, reliable, consistent, and comparable ESG data. And that is so important because if you look around currently, we have this alphabet soup, so to speak of ESG frameworks. And so really what is the right way to talk about ESG? How do you define what is material for you in the ESG space? So those are just some of the key trends that I’m seeing.
John: Let’s talk about that, but let’s go back to what you said earlier takes a Village. When I was asking you about the fraternity of other chief sustainability officers or directors of ESG across the world, talk about your own company, how many give or take, how many employees does T. Rowe Price officially have?
Gaby: I believe it’s around 7000.
John: 7000. So let’s just take that as the rough number. So is part of what you’re doing. Also getting champions within your organization that can be part of your takes the Village Mantra to help champion different initiatives that you’re going to be laying out and initiating and implementing in the years to come. So that way you have sustainability and ESG and circular economy champions inside of T. Rowe Price to help you accomplish both the smaller goals that you set out. And then the much broader goals that you set out that are going to affect T. Rowe Price’s future for generations to come.
Gaby: Absolutely. I mean, there would be no other way to really accomplish that, that goal of embedding sustainability in our operations.
Gaby: When I arrived again, I know I’ve said this a couple of times already newly created role, but also discovering that there was deep passion and interest for all things sustainability. So like I said, people really taking on discrete tasks to the side of their desk, but really trying to bring that together into one cohesive narrative that we could report our progress on year over year. So developing these metrics, I think any solid ESG strategy needs to be grounded in metrics that are easily measurable, and that will allow you to track your progress year over year. So bringing kind of that good will into a strategy and also bringing that quantitative backbone to it became task number one and easier said than done because at the same time, I think something you will see in the ESG space is a tendency to be very reactive. I really want us to move to a proactive mindset, but it’s been incredibly challenging for some of the reasons I listed before is key trends.
Gaby: Because it’s a situation where there’s almost moving goalposts. So what looks good today might not look good enough tomorrow.
John: Right. No, you’re right. No, it’s absolutely the truth. But part of, like you say, keep saying, but it’s the truth because every one common truth that I’ve gotten out of every interview is that every chief sustainability officer or director of ESG that I’ve ever met or interviewed in these years, which is now almost 1500 of great people, is they all say it’s a journey. It’s never about perfection. And that’s the fun part, the openness to understanding that from the outset, because if we all make perfection, our goal and, and our benchmark, it’s just unattainable and we’re going to get frustrated and not even be excited to wake up and go lean into this whole journey anyway. I agree with you. It’s just about progress really. And let’s talk about your day to day though, now. So now you’re about a year into it. I’m sure you’ve been drinking from a fire hose the last 12 months over to [laugh]. So now how do you now start stratting both your short term, easy wins to get some traction, get some visibility, get some excitement going and some just low hanging fruit to borrow another metaphor, but then also some of your broader goals. How do you make a happy mix of short range, really easy with things to accomplish that, you’ll get everybody jazzed and then long arrange goals. And then how do you put those together and then put that forth now that you’ve been there about a year?
Gaby: Yeah. So I think not unlike other roles, I wake up with the clear idea of what I want to accomplish. And I very quickly realize that I won’t even get to that list until about 7:00 or 8:00 PM, right, because there’s a number of competing activities and priorities.
Gaby: That’s one thing for sure there’s always that challenge. I’m not going to say struggle ever. Let’s call these things challenges.
Gaby: To be able to balance ESG education internally. And so just dispelling a lot of myths around what is sustainability, what is ESG? I think if you were to ask someone in the 90s, what sustainability meant, they would somehow equate it to recycling. It’s become so much more than that, right?
Gaby: Again, you have to keep in mind that the goal of this role that I have is to embed sustainability in the firm’s operations, but it’s also embedding it in its corporate philosophy. So it has to be something that trickles from top to bottom. And how do we get there? Well, another myth that I am very actively looking to dispel every single day that I turn my computer on is for people to understand that something like ESG reporting is not an end in itself. And I say that because I think there’s a tendency to really stress a lot on the report. So your annual report, it sounds obvious, but it comes out once a year. So it’s not meant to be an end in itself really.
Gaby: It’s been really challenging to debunk that myth, right. So to really do away with that notion, it’s really about documenting progress and performance. So again, going back to progress, not perfection. So just keeping those two ideas in the back of your mind, and then adding a third, which is always being in alignment to what the investing team is doing. So we want alignment. We don’t want to have contradictory views of ESG that’s for sure. So again, looking to build this common language for ESG. And so with those 3 key kind of indicators in mind, things that I am actively working on and really pursuing to improve every single day. And for some of these examples that I will share with you, it’s been really a labor of love, right? For example, publishing our corporate annual report, our ESG corporate annual report deepening our alignment with internationally recognized disclosure framework. So as I said, it’s a bit of an alphabet soup, but we’ve been very intentional about vocally supporting three frameworks. And so I will mention two of them. One of them is the task force on climate related financial disclosure. So we’re really keen to improve our disclosures recommended by that framework, sorry. And another one are the UN sustainable development goals. So really deepening our alignment with those two frameworks. Another key priority for me, day to day work, and also, hand in hand with the whole ESG education component that I mentioned, because again, it takes a village I’m not going out there and accomplishing alignment with these major international frameworks on my own. This is really T. Rowe Price Group that needs to accomplish these very lofty goals. I am only steering and showing the way, but I’m not getting this done by myself by any stretch of the imagination. That said another one of my goals, and I’m really looking forward to accomplishing this is focusing on delivering best in class corporate ESG reporting. Again, this is not contradict what I said earlier. I know that reporting is not an end to itself, but it’s a really useful publication. It has a very broad audience. So it has people who potentially want to work at T. Rowe, NGOs, the press, investors, clients, even our own associates. How do you foster associate engagement with the work that I do? So this publication serves many purposes and that’s why I’m putting a lot of time and energy into it. It’s something that I’m very proud of since I joined T. Rowe really taking a closer look at how we report things out again, externally, but also internally.
John: Can I pause you right there?
John: You know something really important, we’ve talked during this discussion a lot about the pandemic’s effect and how that also sort of changes the algorithm again, as you take on this new challenge and opportunity at the same time. So part of the reporting and getting it out there both internally and externally is not only for employment attraction, but it’s also for employee retention, which has become a challenge across the world, actually. And what we’ve learned post pandemic is people just don’t want to work for a paycheck. They really are excited about working towards a greater mission and goal and making an impact and knowing that their company is making an impact and making the world a better place. So isn’t the importance of what you’re doing post pandemic even potentially greater value than it was 2 years ago, like you say?
Gaby: Yes. And I really love what you just said because it is so very irrelevant. There is more and more data each day on how those types of factors really influence a person’s choice to seek employment.
Gaby: In X and Y institution. So there’s more data around that and having that in mind and, coincidentally T. Rowe Price has 2 very exciting relocation project currently in the work. So one in Baltimore, another one in London, and there’s a really important sustainability thought process behind both of those projects, which is how do you implement environmental efficiency, health, and wellness goals for a physical structure? How does that influence your workforce? And also how do you develop that as a tool to attract talent, right?
Gaby: So very important. It’s as you said, after the pandemic, I think it has become even more important to think of these things holistically. So sure, you know we’ve always cared about efficiency and infrastructure, but how does this translate to a physical human being as well? And how do you get people excited about working with you?
John: Does leadership allow you and encourage you to weigh in as they now create these wonderful new physical structures for the future of your employees, are you asked to also weigh in and share best practices and your thoughts as to how to create that best of breed, best of class building for the work life balance that the new generation of employees are looking for.
Gaby: Yes. And I’m so lucky to be able to say yes to that question.
Gaby: Because again, you want people to feel excited about their workplace and you also want to influence their health and wellness.
Gaby: At the same time influence the environment. So it’s an overall, win-win now it’s true that there’s a cost to sustainability, right. So perhaps if we did not implement something like a green water reuse system at one of these new buildings, it’s true that these things cost. And if we did not implement it, the cost would be less. But at the end of the day, that’s only half true, right. Because there’s also a cost to doing nothing.
Gaby: You have to think about, well, upfront, yes, it’s an investment, but in the longer term, I’m going to save a lot of money in the water that I’m using. And I’m also lessening the load on the local sewage system. So there’s so many things to consider when you sit down and decide to participate in one of these projects, right. When you raise your hand and you say, I think there’s a strong sustainability angle to this. There are so many things to consider.
John: That’s so fascinating. I was a few weeks back, Gaby. I was actually in London with, at one of my new clients and the gentleman, we had a 1-hour meeting scheduled and it actually lasted 3, because he actually enjoyed taking me through the renovation of his building. And this was also for a financial institution and how they had renovated the building post-pandemic to be a building for the future in terms of lead certifications, in terms of amenities for the employees and for the guests and a whole litany of issues that I would not necessarily thought of, but it was all to create better employee engagement and attraction and retention. And as you say, the ROI on that sometimes is a soft ROI, but it can be very meaningful and impactful when you look at it over years.
Gaby: Yeah, absolutely. I could not agree more with you. And I think it’s also important to reiterate that we’re always evaluating opportunities to embed sustainability in the firm’s values, right. So this is a company that cares a lot about its associate population. And this is just one way that we manifest that care and that attention and how much we want our associates to enjoy the time that they spend in the office.
John: Really, if you had your way and leadership had their way at T. Rowe Price, the goal is truly to embed sustainability, ESG and circular economy thought processes and behaviors as part of your culture and DNA at T. Rowe Price.
John: That’s great.
Gaby: Yeah. And I’ll just add something there, a few years ago, you would’ve probably been skeptical to some of the things I’ve said in this regard, you would’ve probably said, well, you’re in asset management. Why are you even worried about what you do with solid waste at your offices? That’s something for a manufacturing company to think about. Well, the way that I respond to that type of comment is that stakeholder expectations have never been higher and just look at the state of the planet, right. It’s really incumbent on all of us to act and to set these very ambitious goals and to be responsible. So if you’re telling a story such as we are of growing, how do you grow sustainably? That’s really the crux of my work that you can demonstrate that you’re growing as a company and at the same time being responsible about the way that you expand.
John: A 100% for those who just joined us. We’re so honored to have with us today, Gaby Infante, she’s the director of corporate ESG at T. Rowe Price to find her and her great colleagues at T. Rowe Price go to www.troweprice.com to find their sustainability report, go to troweprice.com/sustainability report. Gaby, let’s talk about now, we’ve talked about a lot of the interior short term or longer term goals that you’re working on. Obviously not a compendium list, but some of them talk a little bit about now, the exterior, some of the sustainability thoughts, and goals that come into consideration when you are working with and weighing in with T. Rowe Prices investment strategies as well.
Gaby: Yes. So interesting question. I’ll just start with a backdrop that my team focuses on corporate ESG. However, it’s not in a vacuum, right. It needs to be in close alignment and collaboration with the responsible investing team, which predates my team.
Gaby: Just a footnote there for almost the 2 years that I’ve been at T. Rowe. I’ve been a team of one so small, but mighty just recently grew to 2. So I can speak to 100% growth.
John: Well, that’s right. I said, I mistakenly said earlier, 1 year you’ve been there. It’s like 2 years you’ve been drinking from the fire hose, but now you get to start the implementation and you’ve doubled your staff.
John: Doubled your staff. That’s okay. So that’s good. They allowing you to grow because they’ve realized they’ve put a lot on your plate. Let’s just say that.
Gaby: Thank you for allowing me to say that there’s obviously an important storytelling component to my role and there it is, right. So I was able to expand my team in 2 years.
John: That’s good. You got maybe 2 more years. They’ll allow you to bring on two more. You don’t know,
Gaby: It’s always looking for new opportunities to grow on a team and be more impactful.
John: That’s great.
Gaby: No, but seriously, to answer your question. ESG plays a key role within investments at T. Rowe Price.
Gaby: Also, I think it’s important to, for me to mention that ESG acronym doesn’t represent one investment style. It is used to represent the concept of considering environmental, social, and governance factors within the investment process. And so we currently offer 3 types of investment strategies, ESG integration, socially responsible investments. Sorry, and impact, and nearly all the assets we manage on behalf of clients utilize ESG integration about $95.4 billion is in socially responsible investment strategies, leaving numbers and data aside. We recently joined the net zero asset managers initiative. So very exciting to…
John: What does that mean? Tell me what that organization, what does that organization do and what does net zero really mean for our listeners and our viewers?
Gaby: What that initiative does, or what it’s looking to do is to support the goal of net zero. So zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, and our net zero investment products will utilize the Paris align investment initiative, net zero investment framework, which is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s basically a framework designed to allow for the economy to transition to net zero. So bringing all carbon emissions down or greenhouse gas emissions to be precise down to zero what’s important. I mean, there’s a lot of things that are important there, but again, going back to something that I mentioned earlier in our conversation about Scope 3. So Scope 3, which is what you admit beyond your 4 walls, your proverbial 4 walls, which is quote unquote supply chain for an asset manager. That means your investment activity. So major step forward for us to have joined this pledge, committing to bring our mission in our investment activities down to zero by 2050 or sooner.
John: Got it. Understood. And I just want to say this I’m much, much older than you. So I see those kind of goals that I see 2050, and I can’t help, but think it just seems so far away. It’s 28 years from now. Do you feel hopeful that as a world, not T. Rowe Price, but as a world of great leaders like you, can we truncate that anyway? Can we get that number down from 2050 to 2040, or even lower? Because it just feels like the climate change has really happened in my lifetime, in every community that I travel to and live in. It just seems like the climate is definitely changed. I grew up in New York city. I live now in California and I have an office still in New York and in many other parts of the world and it climate change is here and it’s real and it’s no longer debatable. Can we get the net zero at zero goals down from 2050 or you really think that’s the timeline.
Gaby: I think we definitely should, whether we can, there’s a lot behind there.
Gaby: Right. Certainly the goal is to get there much sooner. And I’ll give you an example on the corporate side. So not to get too much into the weeds because I realize once I start with Scope 1, 2, 3, I lose people.
John: Oh, no.
Gaby: To think of our own direct carbon footprint. So what I was mentioning earlier as well about our own buildings. I do have a plan to reach these net zero goals from a corporate side sooner than 2050. So currently evaluating opportunities, just revamping environmental goals at that corporate level for us, I do see a path to get there before 2050. It definitely needs to be the global imperative, but like I said, there’s a lot behind being able to say that we can.
Gaby: As a global community do that, but we definitely should.
John: Got it.
Gaby: Yeah. I agree with you when you started asking me that question, I actually thought you were going to take a different direction because when I started socializing some of these plans I would get these types of responses. Like, “well, I’m not going to be here by then, so why should I care?”
John: Right. No, and it’s a legitimate question that people ask as you’re trying to build a team and a group of champions behind you.
John: It’s hard to think that far out. So that’s why I always think about great people in your position. How do you come up with short term goals to get short term goals, to get people excited and long term goals as well? Like 2050 is. So that way there’s a happy balance of getting things done and checking them off the list and getting people so totally jazzed. But then of course you have the greater goals out there as well.
Gaby: Now, that’s so important to have those shorter term goals that people that are on your team are able to track their own progress and how they play a part in contributing to those corporate goals. Like I said, associate engagement is really key and again, it takes a Village to be successful.
John: But having almost a hundred billion in socially responsible investments, that’s a very, very impactful role that you guys get to play. That’s a very impactful role. So it’s great that it’s in the hands of you and your colleagues that you’re going to be making those decisions now and in the future, because that’s what I really think is going to change the planet and make the world a better place. More of that socially responsible investing.
Gaby: I agree.
John: Talk a little bit about the future. You know, this has been obviously an exciting and impactful 2 years for you as you’ve gotten your learning curve down. So now that the pandemic is starting to hopefully go from a pandemic to an endemic, what does that mean for you obviously working out of your home the last couple of years, as most of us have been around the world. Now, do you toggle between in the future between the office at home and then soon do you go on the road and what is going on the road mean for you in terms of seeing and meeting other people? And what’s those kind of goals look like for just you in how you’re growing your position and the goals that you’ve created at T. Rowe Price.
Gaby: Yeah. Another great question. And I’ll just start by reminding everyone that prior to relocating to Baltimore, I was in New York and I love New York for many different reasons, but among the top 3 was the walkability of the city.
Gaby: That is not something that I have in my current situation. And I really miss it for me. Driving again has become a practical, but also a philosophical problem. Quite honestly, I knew that it was going to be a big adjustment for me. And for sure it has been, so to answer your question, I’m still working from home, but I make it a point obviously to meet people whenever I can. So I will walk down to the office to meet people. I’m still, you know, I’m not a fan of driving,
John: Right. I’m with you, so funny, I grew up in New York, Gaby, and when I go back to New York, because we have an office there and I go take meetings or other things there. I track my steps every day. I have over 20,000 steps a day easily in New York. I struggle to do 10,000 steps where I live in California because it’s just a driving city and that’s sad. Like you said, I so miss the walkability of great cities like New York it’s once you get used to it, it’s hard to go any other way backwards.
Gaby: It is. And another reason I mentioned that is because again, to bring the relocation project back to the forefront, so really looking forward to our new headquarters in Baltimore opening in 2024, and yes, I will be walking to that building as well. It just illustrates that I’m really looking forward and I’m very happy to start seeing some of the initiatives I mentioned earlier. And a lot of that work that has been happening behind the scenes. I really excited about it being realized and start becoming tangible such as again, the relocation and just achieving lead platinum specifically for our new headquarters. So very excited about that. It would be our first lead platinum property. So I’m personally incredibly excited about that challenge.
John: With good reason. When is London, when is your new offices in London open?
Gaby: Those are set to open next year. So a bit earlier than the Baltimore project. Yes.
John: Got it.
Gaby: But just generally, when I think about the industry, so I have little doubt now in the continued importance of ESG and its mission. And as you and I have talked about during this hour, protecting air, our air, water, and land for ourselves and future generations is part of this mission. So really dispelling that skepticism of, well, 2050, that’s a long way ahead. Why should I care, et cetera, right. It’s really…
Gaby: It’s really a shared goal and a shared mission. So of course there will continue to be many obstacles ahead. I do not doubt that for one second, but I will continue relying on smart and strategic partnerships just as I have been doing these past 2 years at T. Rowe. So really going out and pitching my role throughout the organization, asking business partners who wanted to work with me on X or Y project. Yes, it was challenging. But I questioned, if I had walked into a situation with a full team, well staffed with a budget assigned to it, would I have had these opportunities to meet as many colleagues and to get people excited about ESG. I don’t think that would’ve been the situation. And so I’m actually happy that things happened the way they did.
John: Perfect. Any final thoughts before we sign off for today?
Gaby: Just making a positive difference that will be the true measure of our success. And again, I’m confident that we will succeed.
John: Oh, I’m confident you’re going to succeed too, Gaby. This is not the last time I’m going to have you on the impact visit. It’s going to be fun to have you on in the years to come to share all the success and the wins that you guys rack up. When does your new sustainability report come out? So our viewers and listeners can look forward to looking at it.
Gaby: Yeah, thanks for that question. So we’re expecting the release this fall. So either late August or early September.
John: Got it. And you mentioned at the top of the show, you were raised by your grandparents. Are they still alive?
Gaby: They are not actually my grandmother passed away during the pandemic. So that was also very hard.
John: I’m sorry to hear that because all I can say is this, I know there’s somewhere on this, in this great universe that we live in. And boy, you made them proud with what you did with them, raising you to end up a bear and a bulldog. And now the leader and the director ESG and corporate ESG at T. Rowe Price. What a journey, but boy, you did them proud for raising you. I’ll tell you that right now.
Gaby: Thank you. Thank you for saying that.
John: It’s the truth. It’s the gosh on the truth and for our listeners and viewers, again, to find Gaby and her colleagues, please go to troweprice.com to find their important sustainability report, go to troweprice.com/sustainability report. Their new sustainability report comes out sometime this fall. Look for it. Gaby, we’re going to have you back on the impact podcast. Thank you. And all the leadership team from T. Rowe Price for making the world a better and greener place. We’re all so grateful for all the important work and impactful work that you do. And I can’t wait to have you back on to report on all the important things you’ve accomplished along the way.
Gaby: Thank you. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I love talking to you.
John: This episode of the impact podcast has brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed loops platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy, the fine Closed Loop Partners. Please go to www.closelooppartners.com.