Amy White is the Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Adobe where she leads corporate philanthropy, employee community engagement, environmental sustainability and technology for good initiatives across the enterprise.
Angie Bush is a brand purpose leader who currently serves as Adobe’s global head of Technology for Good. With more than 15 years of experience in corporate social responsibility and strategic partnerships, she has driven high-impact initiatives and innovative projects with global industry leaders.
John Shegerian: This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and has the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider, and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. This is a very special edition. We’ve got the dynamic duo from Adobe with us today, Amy White, she’s the global head of corporate social responsibility, and Angie Bush, the head of technology for good. Welcome to The Impact Podcast.
Angie Bush: Thanks so much.
Amy White: Thanks so much, John. Good to be here. Thank you for the invite.
John: Happy to have you both here. Before we get going, we were talking a little bit off the air first, but both of you have huge and fascinating backgrounds that lead to these very important positions. Can you just share with our listeners a little bit about each of you? Amy, can you kick off as the global head of corporate responsibility? A, how you got here, and B, what your task is, what you do there.
Amy: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate it again, thanks for the invite, John. It’s great to be here and of course, my esteemed colleague, Angie Bush. I’m excited to chat with the two of you today. So my career actually starts in the nonprofit sector. And I think that that is not uncommon with corporate CSR folks is that we had some turn or another whether as we were a good liberal arts student in college, or we took a turn and worked in nonprofit settings is that we have some foundation in community work. So maybe that’s America, or maybe that’s your local YMCA, maybe it’s something that’s more in the public sector, with governments but mine starts actually quite literally with Girl Scouts. I started my career as a young teenager at a Girl Scout camp, and then a Girl Scout counselor and camp director, and then moves through the nonprofit world as I was in college, and right after graduation. I always knew, I am the child of two public servants. My dad worked for the federal government, my mom worked for the state, both working in agriculture, farming, forestry, and then actually development. So my mom raised money for scholarships for kids to go to school. So it was always kind of a part of the DNA. So very quickly in my career, I knew that was the path. And then I had the good fortune of learning that while I’m a good fundraiser, it didn’t bring me a lot of joy. So I had the good opportunity to transition from raising money to giving money away. So that was actually my pivot that took me down a path where I worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and then transitioned probably about a half dozen years ago into corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. So at Adobe, what that means for us is we call it five verticals. So I lead corporate social responsibility and social issues, and communication. So we have a communications team that thinks about how we proactively tell our story, but also how we tell the stories of our customers, our grantees, and the folks that are doing really great work in the world. Then we have a philanthropy team. So we make grants to the tune of about $50 million annually. Then we have the technology to transform the team, which Angie will certainly speak more eloquently to. We have an employee impact team. That’s where all of our employee matching gifts, our employee volunteerism, our pro bono work anything where our employees are being empowered to support nonprofits or community organizations in their backyards. Our backyard is global so that could be anywhere from Delhi to Detroit, wherever they are, they’re giving time and money. Then we also, of course, have sustainability as a core pillar of our work that we’ll dig more into today. Then finally, I’ve forgotten someone, which is always the case.
John: That’s okay. How long have you been at Adobe itself because your career is already a storybook?
Amy: Oh, gosh, well, that’s generous of you. Also, it makes me sound old John, so careful there. Just kidding. I just actually had my one-year anniversary with Adobe. August of last year is when I joined the company.
John: Angie, you are the head of technology for good, which I just love that name. Talk a little bit about where you grew up, what your journey was, and what you’re tasked with doing at Adobe.
Angie: Sure. So I grew up in Idaho and grew up the granddaughter of ranchers and so grew up on horseback and everything else went to undergrad at Colorado Boulder. I have a deep love for nature and being out in the mountains and whatnot. I think after I graduated with my undergrad degree, very quickly thought I really wanted to get into public policy. So I think Amy and I actually have a very similar background around this time. But I moved to California almost 20 years ago to get my Master’s in Public Administration and focus on public policy, and I really wanted it to have my impact and legacy be on the policy front. After graduating, I decided, actually, that wasn’t quite my path. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for. So I got into the nonprofit sector. I was very fortunate to join an organization called Youth Noise, which was the first pre-Facebook social network for civically minded youth around the world. I loved my job, I also fell into development. But where I really found my home was bringing together large brands, some of the best Nike, Virgin, bringing together some of these brands, with nonprofits, NGOs, state governments, you name it and really finding that intersection where we could all come together and tackle an issue in all the ways, all bringing our superpowers to that effort. So that’s really where I found my passion for that kind of work. Then a few years ago, I decided I wanted to be on the for-profit side of that equation. And so made the switch went to for-profit and landed at Adobe about three years ago. And it was in this new role about exploring how there are already great things happening at Adobe, but how are we going to create a concerted effort around technology for good and how we could leverage that for social and environmental impact. So I feel very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to build that function at Adobe from the ground up. Now it’s not just going up, but out. And I feel like, every day I get to work with some of the best teams across the business in every region, to figure out how our products can really be leveraged how we can enable our customers and how we can really amplify the great stories of impact that we’re having around the world.
John: Love it. So you’ve been there about three years and Amy has been there about a year. I mean, as I shared with you, when we were off the air when we were just catching up a little bit, I’m 59 and both of you are relatively young comparatively speaking. You’re in these very exciting roles and have a fantastically great platform, this might be one of the greatest times in modern history to be involved with good/sustainability/ESG/circular economy. I feel like we’ve hit some form of tipping point somewhere in the last 36 months and that there’s really no looking back, and that your generation and I say this solely with absolute respect and generosity, is really going to take the torch now and get us back on the right track. Because man, have we been off our rails for some time now. Do you feel like this is a great moment in time to be doing the kind of work you’re both doing now at Adobe?
Amy: Well, I’ll take a stab at that, John. I think there’s there’s only one answer in my mind is that optimism and hope are the ways that we move through the community in what we do. So I think absolutely, I think that I think that we are at a tipping point for employees around holding the companies that they work for, not necessarily accountable, but asking them the right questions. I think that people are willing to take aggressive personal action to support you know, we were talking about homeboy recycling, but whether that’s your own recycling or your own water consumption, obviously, we know those aren’t going to be the things that move the needle the most dramatically. But that collective movement, I think is a critical part of how we create change. Then I think different administrations and different governments across the globe are tackling this it at different speeds, but what I’m encouraged by is that consistently on a global scale. We no longer are debating whether or not there’s a climate crisis. It’s a debate about what to do and how fast to do it. Right is that everywhere from India making its declarations last year at COP to individual companies setting new targets is that there we know a collective movement is required, and it has to be aggressive. So I think, yeah, I feel optimistic because we have no other option but to work together to create that sort of change. And I do think what you’re sort of alluding to that generational shift is that this is an imperative, particularly climate but sustainability and social impact and social good and demanding that of companies and other industries across the board is no longer negotiable. It’s no longer the nice thing to do, it’s imperative.
Angie: I would say from my perspective, it’s not an either or. It’s not, hey, we’re going to stick to business. And we’re gonna focus on the bottom line, or we’re going to focus on sustainability. I think it’s what companies are finding with a lot of the technology for good the product innovation side of it is that we’re helping show business value along with environmental savings. I think that is the Nexus at which we need to approach this when it comes to the business imperative. I think it’s convincing and educating and demonstrating to our employees, our customers, to the world at large, that going and trying to be more sustainable does not mean that you give up your business goals and ambition. In fact, I think sustainability is going to be a great driver of innovation. I think that is something that we need to focus on, especially as we go into these next few years because we are at a tipping point from governments to companies to individual actions, we all need to come together and figure out how we’re going to tackle this together.
John: I love it and I agree with you. It’s like you said, this is not just a trend or a thing to do for a little bit. This has become now and it should become more of a DNA issue with every organization that exists. Let’s talk about that. Let’s get a dig in a little bit. Also for our listeners and viewers out there to find Amy, Angie, and all their colleagues and all the good that they’re doing at Adobe, you can go to www.adobe.com. Sustainability becomes an internal and external concept for a company. There are these internal initiatives, and these external initiatives, share a little bit about what you’re doing both internally and externally to drive your sustainability commitments forward.
Amy: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll take that one, John. I think as I mentioned in our chat at the top that our commitment to sustainability and social impact starts 40 years ago. We’re very fortunate this year. As our 40th anniversary, we’re doing some celebrating, and also some recommitting to who we are and what that looks like for the 40 years ahead. So sustainability is have been a part of who we are as a company for a very long time before even… I don’t want to say [inaudible] because I think it always has been to certain pockets. But we started investing in our three pillars, which was our operational sustainability. So how we manage our own buildings, our own operations, our product sustainability, how the products Adobe creates, support our customers in reaching their own sustainability targets, and then the ecosystem. So those are three building blocks, and the ecosystem being policy advocacy, partnerships, and commitments to how we work as a collective, as I mentioned before. So our site operations and workplace stuff, I think is above and beyond what you see a lot of companies do. All of our own facilities are LEED certified. We go above and beyond to try to manage both our water consumption, and our electricity to build really powerful, beautiful workplaces, but also with sustainability at the heart of that. That’s a global commitment. So certainly LEED certification isn’t everywhere, but the practices and principles are. So we take that very seriously. Then as you I know have seen as we’ve been reviewing and preparing for our chat today, we’ve set goals a long time ago… not a long time ago, relatively long and in the landscape of corporate goal setting but in 2015, we started setting what we believed at the time were really aggressive targets around greenhouse gas reductions, around renewable energy and a commitment to using 100% renewable electricity. Then of course setting and achieving our science-based targets. So we have a couple of science-based targets and to have that 1.5% commitment of reduction. So it’s a part of who we are. We operationalize that a long time ago, our facilities and our teams are focused on it. We continue to push ourselves to talk about what more can we do, how can we set more rigorous or aggressive targets around water reduction as that is a hot topic, particularly in California where we’re headquartered across the globe. Then looking ahead to how can we do more? What does that look like? Or should we be accelerating some of the targets we have, how do we work with some of our largest suppliers? Those of you that are close to sustainability work, of course, understand that this is a collective and that we as a technology company that doesn’t actually create a product. The best way we can make progress is by working with our vendors and suppliers to help bring down that collective greenhouse gas emission. So how do we think about our cloud storage and our partners who are helping our products make it out into the world to reduce their footprint? So there’s a lot of really powerful, exciting energy inside the company to think about how we do more, and how we use our voice and our impact and our products to make that difference. So I think the internal part is managing ourselves and then the external part is asking ourselves, how we empower our customers, how we work with our suppliers. And then also where should we be showing up? So what sort of policy what sort of advocacy? Where do we have the most differentiating voice to bear? I know Angie is going to speak a little bit about our product piece in that part. But we really think that our products are one of the keys unlocks, particularly as we all went to a virtual workplace is that the ability to sign documents to produce videos, everything in a remote environment not only helps business keep going but also had a great and powerful positive impact on the environment. So continuing down that path is a real priority for us.
John: One thing I didn’t ask at the top to give our listeners a little bit of scope. How many employees does Adobe had give or take?
Angie: Give or take, around 25,000.
John: So 25,000 and that’s around the world?
John: Now, going back to what Amy was just talking about in terms of renewable energy, I know you have a big announcement coming up in terms of your 2023 headquarters in San Jose opening. Why don’t you share a little bit about renewable energy and your new headquarters towers in San Jose, which opens in 2023?
Angie: Amy, I’m gonna let you take that one because you’ve been right in the center of all that.
Amy: Sure, absolutely. I think we’re excited, of course, because it’s an ongoing part of our commitment to using renewable energy. So we’ve made this 100% commitment to renewable energy. Part of that is the purchase of more renewable off the grid, but also enhancing and electrifying our physical facilities. So we’re excited, sort of towards the tail end of this fiscal year will be our excuse me calendar year, we’ll be opening up we call it the North Tower. I think we might get about a fancier name than that eventually. But it’s, it’s our first all-electric building. So it’s the first one in the valley. We’re excited. I think it is a physical manifestation of our commitment to how we enable employees to come back to work and have a beautiful working environment, and a collaborative space, but also airflow, water usage, renewable energy, and all-electric are all key components of how it was built. So how do we create the best kind of working experience, particularly as folks are coming back to the office, but also had the least amount of impact?
John: I assume that was a LEED-certified building.
John: Go back into that, you were just breaking that down. You don’t join the LEED certification institute and write a check, it’s hard to earn that. Go through that checklist again that you really have to think about and touch upon and attack and accomplish. It’s just not writing a check.
Amy: No, absolutely. I mean, there’s design principles. The LEED certification process is one that we started almost two decades ago now. So our team, our facilities team is well versed in what it takes. And again, LEED is not a global certification it is, but in North America in the US, we ascribe to it. So it is a financial commitment, you actually do become a member of the LEED certification community. What it means is that you are making purchase decisions, you’re looking at your supplier. So who’s bringing materials into your building? What are their practices? Not just sustainability practices, actually, but human rights practices, sustainability practices? How are they sourcing materials? Can we verify sourcing, particularly on wood products and metals? Can you verify all the way upstream where those metals came from that they aren’t doing an unnecessary or planned harm as you procure them to put them in the building? Then, of course, a lot of recycled products and then commitments extend far beyond the actual creation of the building. It’s also how you run the building. So if that’s greywater in your toilets, if that’s your recycling, and composting waste diversion programs that you have committed to, it’s how you manage your H-back, and how you manage heating and cooling throughout the year, particularly as the world gets hotter how we look at that. So that’s why I mentioned airflow is that any reduction in dependency on air conditioning and cooling systems is a big win. So looking at how we place windows, where we place them using shades, doing all sorts of design, beautiful design elements that both enhance the experience for our employees and our guests, but also get us to that side where we’re we’re managing our sustainability outcomes as well.
John: I love it. Angie, one of the things is that I’m fascinated with your title head of technology for good. When I first started the show in oh seven and started as a radio show, and it was called as a play on the Gordon Gekko famous line, we trademarked the line, green is good. And again, it was done for the same reason. But I expanded it over the years because the guest list expanded to be people and organizations that are making an impact. As the head of technology for good, share some examples of things that you’re working on right now, initiatives that you’re working on, that get you out of bed in the morning, that get you excited that and that keep your sustainability initiatives and the good that Adobe is doing moving forward?
Angie: That’s a great question. Again, I think, as I’ve said before, I think sustainability really is going to be the biggest opportunity for innovation at Adobe. What gets me out of bed in the morning honestly, is working for a company with such a powerful and robust portfolio of products. We are not a one-trick pony, we are just the opposite. So we have three major clouds Document Cloud, creative cloud experience, cloud, and a whole lot of solutions underneath those titles. So I think when we look at what we’re doing from a sustainability perspective, we have a lot to do. And we are doing a lot I think Adobe’s mission has always been to create products that empower people to change the world. And that’s what we’re doing. And we’re not just doing it, keep your own house in order with great things like the North Tower in our operations, but we’re going out and we’re innovating around the products, we’re engaging our customers, because they’re the ones that are going to go take that out and apply the tools and use the products to actually create that environmental benefit. So we’re doing things like with our Document Cloud, it’s really fueling the paper to digital transformation. Creative Cloud, especially during the pandemic, I think we have such cool examples of how customers were just reimagining the creative process with digital at its core. Then with Experience Cloud, we’re powering businesses from SMBs, on up to the biggest largest brands you can imagine, enabling more sustainable practices, and helping other customers reach their own sustainability goals. So I think all of these things together are a lot to manage. So last year, we started on this journey of, let’s take a look at all of our products. Let’s take a look at what we’re doing right now, what’s available, and at what point in the life of that product are we kind of coming into the process? How are we impacting and going in the product? How are we creating tools to help customers realize the value of using that product? And then as we look further down the line, I think the goal always is to come in from day one, and be in those conversations as we’re ideating around new products because then sustainability becomes part of that DNA and we’re building with sustainability in mind. So I think those are the different tracks that we’re looking at, in terms of kind of the lifeline of the product.
John: I want to just ask you a question, I’m interrupting here. I want to take it from a very specific example because not everyone understands the interrelationship of cloud technology and SMBs and where sustainability comes into play there. So I want you to explain that, but let’s make it I want to break it down first into a simpler but more tangible reference of something that we all understand nowadays. We all understand e-signatures because we’re all doing that much more than we were last 15 years ago. Adobe Acrobat Sign is a solution. Explain why your e-signature solution makes a real difference, sustainability, then we’ll go back to the cloud issue, and I want you to interconnect cloud solutions with SMB and sustainability.
Angie: Yeah, I mean, I think that we found a really interesting last few years because everyone was focused on the pandemic, obviously, and that interrupted a lot of things for people, especially doing anything brick and mortar or anything with e-signatures. Now, obviously, Acrobat Sign has been around for a long time, and e-signatures have been around for a long time, but never before has been so accelerated in terms of absolute business imperative. So when you have these signatures, you’re moving away from paper, you’re going completely digital, and I know with Adobe Sign, using Adobe Sign creates 95% less environmental impact than a paper workflow. To give a little context, every million transactions through Adobe sign actually equates to 27 million gallons of water saved and over 2300 cars off the road for a year. And I think when you think like, okay, I’m doing a signature, or our company’s investing and we’re doing 20,000 transactions a year, it’s like, okay, that’s great. But I think when you really put it into the context of the environmental benefit of that, you’re going, oh my god, that’s an incredible environmental benefit. And I think what we saw during the pandemic, especially were entire industries, financial services, for example, completely accelerating their switch to digital. People weren’t going to banks, people weren’t going and doing things in person. So by accelerating that, and investing in digital workflows, we saw that not only was customer experience improved, we were also seeing incredible environmental benefits. We’re seeing more and more of the entire industry invest more in these types of workflows. And I think that when you look at customers, like, for example, the government, the state of Hawaii is a great example. They launched an initiative a few years ago to move away from paper-based processes and not only are they seeing rates, and great sustainability, but taxpayers are saving almost $3 million a year. So I think that what people are starting to see is, again, what I was talking about earlier, is that sustainability can actually help you, especially things like the pandemic, which we’re just going to see more and more of these types of disruptions occur. It’s actually helping overcome those types of issues while also realizing great value from a business perspective, time, time savings, cost savings, you name it.
John: Got it. Let’s go back to when you refer to earlier, the cloud solutions that you’re creating for SMBs and other enterprises, and the interconnectivity between those kinds of solutions that you’re creating in technology and sustainability and the benefits that accrue thereof.
Angie: Sure. I mean, I think we have some really great examples of SMBs, small-medium businesses that really, I can’t imagine a group were impacted by the pandemic when it came to business continuity. So I think what we saw was a really heavy investment, and really accelerated timelines for some of these folks to get online with e-signatures, start using our experience cloud, start meeting customer needs fully digitally. So I think we have some really great examples of how that was done to accelerate business and stay afloat, frankly, when almost not overnight, but over just a few weeks, they had to shut down brick and mortar and go completely virtual. So I think that what we’re seeing is probably, was it sustainability first? Probably not, it was probably we got to keep our virtual doors open. But I think from that we’ve started to see more and more people are saying, wow, we’re starting to see environmental benefits of this, we’re starting to see the value that the business continuity is bringing from a whole many other many metrics that we’re seeing come in. So I think that for small and medium businesses whether it’s sustainability or just business continuity, I really feel like Adobe solutions in that powerful portfolio we talked about, really helped in this robust kind of wraparound service. So creating using digital tools, instead of doing physical photoshoots, moving to some of our 3d technology and being able to do virtual photoshoots, and being able to recreate the fabric on 100 different chairs virtually instead of having to produce those materials. That’s huge environmental savings, especially when you think about just the millions of small and medium businesses out there in the world, as well as large companies benefiting from those products.
John: If you just joined us now, we’re really excited. We have Amy White, the global head of corporate social responsibility at Adobe with us today and Angie Bush, the head of technology for good. If you want to find them and their colleagues at Adobe and learn all the good and important things they’re doing in sustainability, ESG, and circular economy, you could go to www.adobe.com. Let’s talk a little bit about big. Big sometimes is wonderful because it gives both of you and your colleagues, this great platform, that when you make decisions and decide to move forward with initiatives, the needle really moves. But how does big also get in the way of communication internally with your employees and keeping them motivated and understanding all the important work that you’re doing, and then externally? How do you combat the issues that bigness creates with regard to communicating effectively?
Amy: John, I’ll tackle that one. Your question nor my answer will be unique to Adobe. I think that that is a huge opportunity and one of the greatest challenges and I think that every company, particularly anyone working in our global landscape in the last two and a half years has had to address is how do you maintain morale? How do you help people feel connected? How do you maintain culture when you’re all remote? I think those are really, really hard questions and I think we’re all still learning. As folks are easing back into the office and figuring that out sort of prioritizing how you use in-person time and how we think about what kind of culture we want to build because a little bit of this moment is actually about not only extending the culture that existed but also establishing something new. I read a statistic I think recently that most corporations have a third of their employees are new since the pandemic. So, the great resignation and the great hiring and Adobe is not any different. Myself included, we have thousands of people that have joined who have never met people in person. So I think, as we become more agile in what that looks like, we’re going to maintain the back-to-work mentality is that we’re going to go into the office for moments that matter, and to make sure that the teams are getting together, we’re doing strategy and planning, but also relationship building in person. But also leveraging the best parts of what it means to work in a global setting is that we can talk now. We’re in three different places, I’ll be at all on the west coast, but we can enable great work and great conversation from anywhere now. So I think leading into that, and then my guess is, and Adobe, again, is not dissimilar to other companies is that we’ve all really leaned into the value of internal communications and employee communications. It’s not just one way of telling people, You can’t just send emails and hope people read them. We need a multi-channel approach to how we talk to our employees, just like we do with our customers, with the media, with our investors whether that is in instant messaging on Teams and Slack and other devices like that or sending things in the mail, or getting on calls or showing up in person is utilizing all of the tools at our disposal to make sure that we’re tackling our business, our core business and being successful and competitive in that way. So, I think the bigness, if anything, the pandemic, one of those strange bright spots is that it doesn’t feel quite as big anymore, because we’ve all had to work in a global context. So yes, time zones are still a hassle than figuring out how to talk to people that are 13 and a half hours away. It’s complicated, but we can and we do it regularly now. So we really think we’ve done a great job. And one of the core pieces I think our CSR team has enabled is that those were really, really powerful place-based programs and offices. So we certainly have over 25 offices globally and each of those offices has a site council, and a group of folks who think about the culture, the things that make coming to the office and being together really important, that aren’t necessarily about the day to day tactics of your work. But they’re thinking about, you know, in Seattle, we have a Wiffle ball league, which is very funny to me. It’s a very hot competition at the noon hour where people are out on the field playing together. But also they think about how they volunteer together? How do they host and learn about one another’s families and cultures? How do our employee resource groups and our cultural moments come to life? So we built that infrastructure a long time ago because we know that the importance of place and giving back to the place where you do business only enhances your experience as an employee, enhances our reputation with our customers and the broader community that we’re a part of. So we’ve been able to lean on that infrastructure, and I think has really helped us maintain a lot of those cultural components, even as we’ve been virtual.
Angie: John, I would add, I think it’s really about intentional engagement and that two-way conversation that Amy was just alluding to, too. I think that we’re focused on sustainability here and I would say, from a sustainability perspective, I think that engaging with our employees and helping them to see how they are part of the sustainability story and journey and how they can actually contribute to achieving our goals is extremely important. I think that it’s not just hey, the CSR team is over here setting some cool targets and doing these initiatives. It’s like, hey, you work on product design, let us show you, let’s work together on how we can build sustainability to products. You work on our operations team, you are here designing things, how can everybody see themselves in the solution? I was really excited, just recently, Adobe conducted a survey with our employees. We asked about what is your stance on sustainability at work. Is it something that we should focus on? And the answer was a resounding yes. And I think what was really cool is that Adobe’s employees saw so many benefits to implementing sustainability practices at work, and it wasn’t just because, oh, I feel like I’m contributing. I mean, the thing we heard back was this is going to boost productivity. It’s going to position Adobe as a leader. It’s going to open more opportunities for innovation, which everyone’s really craving especially come out of the pandemic. And the largest response was about improving workplace culture and how sustainability, you have so many people passionate, all along the spectrum, from taking individual action at a small level to going out and this is what your life is dedicated to. I think we need to harness that and I think making employees feel engaged just that it’s a two-way conversation that they’re contributing to the goals that we’re making, and that they can see themselves in the solution, I think is how we’re going back to the workplace and making sure our employees feel like they are a part of the sustainability journey.
John: So interesting. You both use the word cultural a lot. I wrote an email to one of my business partners, he’s a CEO of a different company, has nothing to do with ERI three nights ago, and he had been telling me about a weekend he had spent this past weekend in the inner city somewhere working on a business deal. He’s 25 years old. He’s a very young man. And I said to him, when I was your age, it was all about strict intelligence, and working hard. I said that about 15 to 20 years later became about him, also you layered on emotional intelligence, and working hard, but also, more importantly, working smart. And I said, there’s been a full sea change now. We’re now yes, it’s important to be a smart person. And yes, you have to have emotional intelligence. But I said, the new type of intelligence that really matters, is cultural intelligence. So I’ve heard you use that word because he was a little bit of a fish out of water in the inner city having grown up in a very well-to-do part of the suburbs of Denver and then graduating from USC. He enjoyed the experience very much but was experiencing an awakening. I said it was much like my awakening during my homeboy years as well. But I said they stay with you forever and they make you understand the importance of diversity. Going back to what you both were talking about at Adobe, I think if the stats are correct in terms of how many people have shifted jobs and careers post-pandemic, I think it’s a tremendous retention tool that you’re creating in terms of your culture around sustainability and doing good. Also, it’s both a great way to recruit or retain employees in the future, because I think your generation and younger, that’s what they’re all about now. It’s not about getting a job at 21 anymore and leaving when you’re 63. All the algorithms in math have changed tremendously. I did want to ask you this question about you said 25 or so groups around the world that are cultivating that culture and nurturing it. How many people when you take your teams of technology for good, and of course, the CSR team, how many people do you have working on these initiatives given the size of your company and also the amount of clients you have around the world?
Amy: Sure. I mean, not unlike lots of companies done, we have a core CSR and social impact team which is around 25 people globally who support that work. Then, of course, we have a couple of vendor-supported roles and things like that for events that come together. I think the power of what I mentioned before is that sort of play space is what we do is equip and support and help promote and program alongside each of those offices. So in each office, there’s someone who, usually it’s a two-year gig and sort of like serving on a nonprofit board that you commit to being an extension to our team. So you receive training, you receive support on how to promote programs, whether those are volunteer events, fundraisers, or food drives, you name it. Our office teams come up with all sorts of ways to give back and support our work. That also includes a sustainability person, and there’s a sort of community person. Those two folks have support directly from our team on all the tools and goals that they set. Then they engage locally. So they use the office communication strategy, whether that is digital communications, or literally signs on the elevator, to get people to turn out to events and to show up to give time, money, and attention to some of the goals that we committed both as a company but also how they manifest those in a local market. So if you take it out, there’s another 50 to 75 people globally that are an extension of our team actually carrying out programmatic work.
John: Post-pandemic, will this platform be used primarily by you both to communicate with your leaders around the world, or is going back on the road part of that process as well? How do you see the right mix of meeting with your teammates in person geographically speaking around the United States and around the world? How do you run that balancing act in the future? What’s your thoughts?
Amy: Yeah, I think that culturally, both in Adobe culture but also just in the world you can’t replace in-person communications and gatherings and the power that is built when I meet and share a meal with you or have a strategy session with you with a big whiteboard is that we know that those things are valuable. So across the board as a company, we will be returning to our office, but also, we’re a technology company. And we have tools that enable being virtual, and actually, in some ways make it better. Actually, Angie and I were on a call this morning, just talking about a group gathering that actually is better because if everyone is remote, then we can all participate collectively instead of having that other feeling that sometimes happens. So our approach is definitely we are returning to our offices and making sure that the time that we spend there is a really valuable strategy. We have sort of this motto around moments that matter is that we will gather with our most important customers, with our most employee events that there will be times when we are on the road, sharing our story meeting with people. And that has already happened even in the last six to eight months. Our leadership team has been on the move, people are meeting with customers across the globe. And what we know is that sometimes we can be more efficient. We can not only have good sustainability outcomes, but also we can just solve problems faster, sometimes virtually. It’s that we don’t need to coordinate a big trip if it’s actually just a quick hour-long phone call. And what we’re finding over and over, which is probably true across the industry is that customers actually like that, too. If there is an ease, if we’ve already had sort of that meaningful moment, and now we’re getting into some of the tactics or transactions or just problem solving, now that we have a foundation of the relationship, we can move into sort of the management and ongoing management in a virtual setting. So I think it’s going to be hybrid, that’s what we’re going to see across the world that what we have learned is what it can enable, and what we also learned as what we missed. So figuring out the right balance of getting those missed opportunities back on the calendar and people meeting face to face is a critical part of how we’ll work.
Angie: I would add, you mentioned customers, and I think that what I and my team focus on is truly we want every single member of our field that are face to face, whether in person or virtually with our customers, we want them to be champions for sustainability, we want them to be champions for our tech for good work and take that out to our customers. I think that, as Amy just mentioned, I think our customers, our field, we’re all kind of learning what this flexible hybrid workplace and environment now look like. And I think some of the things that I’ve seen that are really cool is it’s not just us sitting here on the CSR team, or within our company wanting to get together on a board. In a room with a whiteboard, customers want to come together. We’re hearing more and more from customers even seen anybody, we have all these ideas, we heard your solutions can help us drive sustainability or drive, X, Y, Z. So they’re wanting to get into a room together virtually or physically and they want to have a whiteboard and start working together. And I am so excited by that because I think that shows as we’re coming out of the pandemic, that all of these people in these different industries and fields want to get together and find solutions together. And I think that that’s because of that tipping point. That’s because we just saw the effects of a global pandemic. So, to me, I’m really excited that those moments that matter, also include these collaboration days or opportunities to get together and say, okay, we’re all bringing our experience and our knowledge and our products and our business together. Now, how do we work together to create the change we want to see?
John: Angie, you bring up a great point. I love what you’re talking about collaboration on the whiteboard. For our listeners and viewers who want to see Adobe’s important corporate responsibility report, you can go to www.adobe.com/corporate-responsibility. So I’m always fascinated by the process. So you get into a room, whether in person or virtually, and the whiteboard is there. Amy and Angie, from where you sit and everything that’s coming at you and also your massive experiences historically in public service and on the public side, but before going on the private side, you have sucked both knowledge bases of the problems in the world and the voids that are out there that need to be filled. The opportunities you have now where do you sit to create solutions, how do you strata and decide how to make the whiteboard make sense now going forward?
Amy: Well, I think you bring up a great point, John. I’m laughing and maybe your listeners didn’t know I was laughing because if I’ve learned nothing in the pandemic, I tend to mute more than I should. But I am a terrible white border. There’s pictures and drawings and I love it. It brings me so much joy because it’s all in my head. And I just put it out on this whiteboard, but no one understands it. But I think what you bring up in my mind, John, is we all have to get really good at figuring out what we can be the best step. As I joined the company a year ago, that’s been our number one focus is how do we figure out, how do we define, and articulate who we are as a brand and what we are trying to accomplish from a social impact perspective. And then that should be differentiating, it should be meaningful, it should be measurable, it should have rigor. It’s that we aren’t just doing good for the sake of doing good. We are trying to influence graduation rates. We are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are trying to enable diverse voices to come to the stage, whether that is in film or television or on a music stage. It’s that we are trying to do specific things as a brand. And I think we’ve spent a lot of time getting really clear about what it is we’re aiming at then applying measurement and evaluation to that. So what you’re gonna see from Adobe in the next chapter, the next four years is applying that rigor around our four belief pillars. That’s Adobe for all, which is our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging. That’s internally around our employees around our talent pipeline, and then externally around the policies, we advocate for the students that we support for the nonprofit organizations we partner with. It’s that we believe that it’s core to every corporation, we are all better off when there is a diversity of voices at the table, both in our companies and in the external community. The second pillar is creativity for all and this is the foundation of Adobe. And you mentioned at the top is creativity is who we are. We enable creativity with our products. But creativity means a lot of things to a lot of people. I do not use most of Adobe’s products in my personal life, it is not my go-to. I have a five-year-old and a two-year-old so I sang a lot of songs, none of them very well. So that’s my creative outlet. But we believe that everybody is a creator. So we are focused on how we make sure that creators who are doing that as a professional are being paid a living wage. How are we amplifying diverse voices in that setting? And then also, how do we help folks like you and me and Angie, who may not be designers or creators by trade? How do we get you tools and experiences that help you with your overall well-being? How do you create a community with creativity at the heart of it? So those are two and then the next two are technology to transform which Angie has of course articulated. But how do our products enable good? And how do we get really focused on what we’re trying to accomplish in that space? It’s that everybody’s been at the product game for a long time, whether that’s our good partners at Microsoft or Amazon, we make things that certainly allow our businesses to thrive, but also how do we design and enhance products to actually both help the business, but support a social impact agenda as well? Then our final piece, of course, is what we’ve talked a lot about today, which is our sustainability sale. It’s that it’s not just about our own operations anymore, how do we work as a collective? And how do we as a company creates products that enabled electronic signatures or 3d production of virtual photoshoots? How do we make sure that customers and folks understand how to use those tools so that we can be a part of that collective climate crisis champion team that’s going to do the good work ahead? So our goal is to make sure you know those four pillars, and that we have meaningful targets and each of those that we help share so that you know what Adobe is about. Also, so that we know what we’re going to stand for, and how we’re going to show up in the community.
John: I mean, you don’t need a whiteboard, it’s in your head. That’s why you’re not good on a whiteboard. Come on.
Amy: Oh, well, that was kind of you. I think when you try to turn all those talking points into a strategy, that’s where it gets a little tricky, but I appreciate that. And I do think it’s because we’ve been really focused on, we can’t do everything. No company can do everything. So how do we use what we are best at to differentiate our own brand so that you know who we are, but also so that we can drive the most strategic impact in the communities that we care the most about?
John: Before I let you both go today, I want to ask Angie. Angie, can you share a little bit about your public-facing resource savings calculator, what that really does on your website, and how our listeners and viewers and their friends and relatives, and your clients can make great use of it?
Angie: Yeah, well, I would say that our resource, there were calculators tool we’ve had where we’re continuing to push this in product and get this in front of our customers. It’s a really exciting tool that we’ve developed. You can see the background of the science behind it so you know it works. But basically, it’s a calculator that allows the customers to see the environmental savings that are associated with their switch from paper to digital and the positive impact of going to digital documents. So users can basically select the type, the frequency, the measurement, of their digital paper use, and then use a little slider bar, it’s great. Then you can actually equate the number of pages that you normally would print and have physically signed, and actually see the environmental savings across things like water, pounds of wood, pounds of waste, greenhouse gases, cars on the road, that kind of stuff. It’s an easy-to-use tool, I think what I really love about it is that it’s stood alone for a long time. And now what we’re seeing is, we’re wrapping that with customer case studies where you’re seeing, you’re starting to really get the context, like we talked about the top of the hour, 2300 cars off the road, or this type of savings. We’re continuing to expand on how we can, again, get that in the product so customers are seeing it every day. Wow, I did this, and therefore. I think, once again, I think that’s going to be as we build out more calculators and more tools. So customers can see, can actually not just hear by using this, there’s these environmental savings, but they actually you can actually say, and here they are. I think that’s going to allow them to engage with their sustainability teams more to understand how this is actually contributing to their own sustainability goals But it’s also going to allow us to really be focused on how we can take this content and understand how we’re impacting industries and understand how we’re actually having larger impacts with everything from SMBs, to again, those largest brands, and how tools like this can actually continue to demonstrate again, that beautiful combination of not just hey, this is good for the environment, but it’s also saving you time and money. It’s hitting your bottom line. So go visit the Resource Saver Calculator Adobe, especially we have a sustainability hub that you can visit and see some great case studies of different users and customers. I would just highly encourage you to check that out on our site.
John: And I would bet the use level of that is going up and up, month over month, year over year, etc. because more people want to see the good that they’re doing.
Angie: Absolutely and again, I think this really goes to just how important it is to make at a company, I think the best practice is to really make the field educate, inspire, resource your field so they can go out and deliver that word to customers and have those really valuable conversations. Because I can’t meet with every Adobe customer, good Lord, but our field certainly is. And I think that what’s really great is they get excited because that’s like, wow, I’m actually gonna go help our customers achieve these great environmental benefits. Again, I feel part of the solution of Adobe’s environmental commitments and also helping customers be aware of that because it can sit on a site for as long as you want but until you make people aware of the value of that tool and its existence, frankly, you’re just not going to see that kind of use. But yes, we are seeing use go up, up, up. And I think what’s great is we’re starting to see, not just because we’re sending people a link, we’re actually walking customers through it, we’re having them come and read the case studies, we’re starting to really get industry profiles together. And I think you asked me what gets me out of bed when it comes to this work, I think that what gets me really excited is to see that aggregated impact and know that we are making a difference.
John: I’m gonna give you ladies the last word. You’ve said it all today, it’s so impressive. On everything that you do at Adobe, is there anything final thoughts that either of you has before we say goodbye for today? And you’re always welcome back of course on The Impact Podcast. Can you continue to share Adobe’s journey, both of your journeys and all the important work you’re doing? Is there anything that you’d like to add?
Amy: Well, of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t say thank you. We’ve obviously found some comms people in your Rolodex, too, that love to tell our own story. We’re really excited. I think what I mentioned at the top, is both collective action and optimism is the name of this game. And I think having the opportunity to share a little bit about our journey and where we’ve been and why and what the building blocks of that are. Then who we want to be and how we’re gonna differentiate in the future are really, really important to us. So I appreciate the time and attention and am happy to answer additional questions as they come up along the way. But I think really encouraged by the audience that you brought together around these topics. They’re so critical. Having encouragement from employees, from stakeholders, from listeners, from customers, to do more to do better to talk more about how we’re going to make change together in the world is really important. So mostly just thank you and appreciate your time.
Angie: Same here, I just want to say thanks, John. It has been really, really fun. I feel like I learned a lot. I learned about your background too, Amy. But I would say I think just in terms of best practices and things I’m really excited about as we look toward the future, I think it’s all about intentional innovation, engagement, collaboration, all of which we talked about today. I think that’s how we’re going to be able to reach the sustainability goals, not just here at Adobe but across the industry across the world. I think coming out of the pandemic, and looking at how we’re going to overcome all these challenges from a sustainability perspective and beyond, I think it’s going to be working together, it’s going to be tearing down the walls of competition and peers and just kind of jumping in together. It’s engaging our employees, it’s allowing in asking people to innovate and say, how are we all in this together? How are we going to overcome these challenges and how can we do it from the desk we set out every day in the work we do every day? Because I think that’s what’s going to get people fired up and inspired to really take on this work.
John: That’s awesome. Again, thank you both Amy White and Angie bush for joining us on The Impact Podcast today. First of all, you both are sustainability rockstars. I mean, just either one of you would have been an amazing show to have both of you today. It’s quite a dynamic duo. And I think you’re more than just the head of technology for good, I think it should be the head of technology for great. What you’re doing Amy with the CSR team is just unbelievable. Again, find Amy and Angie at adobe.com. You can also find there the Resource Saver Calculator, you can find their CSR report and look for their new building in 2023 in San Jose, California. Thank you both for doing all the great work with Adobe that you do and making the world a better place. You’re always welcome back on The Impact Podcast.
Angie: Thanks so much.
Amy: Thanks, John.
John: This episode of The Impact Podcast is 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. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.