For many working in corporate sustainability, the past months have been a seesaw of emotional highs and lows. On the one hand, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues have entered a golden age of interest from investors, customers, employees, and even policymakers. On the other hand, the devastation of the climate crisis has never been more present or clear. No one can single-handedly solve the climate crisis — yet for corporate sustainability professionals, every negative headline feels like a personal setback. When it comes to advancing ESG, progress is slow and, at times, imperceptible. Burnout is a real threat. If we are to elevate sustainability in the world, we also must discover it within ourselves.
In this virtual panel discussion, thinkPARALLAX convened ESG, mental health, and climate leaders to discuss how we can foster personal sustainability to reduce burnout in the face of negative news.
The panelist lineup included:
- Davida Heller, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and ESG at Citi
- Gwen Migita, Vice President Social Impact, Sustainability, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Caesars Entertainment, Inc.
- Kritee Kanko, Ph.D., Senior Scientist - Global Climate, Environmental Defense Fund
- Renee Lertzman, Ph.D., Climate psychologist and Founder, Project InsideOut
Here are some of the key takeaways from the panel:
- Feeling anxious or unmotivated sometimes is okay. Give yourself space to process negative news or sustainability setbacks so that you can better respond.
- Don’t try to go it alone. Seeking out other individuals or groups to share the burden with can help you maintain personal sustainability. Remember there is a whole community of helpers working for the greater good.
- Accept that burnout is inevitable. Everybody has their limits, and eventually you too will face burnout. Treating it as part of a cycle means you can better prepare for it and bounce back.
- Action absorbs anxiety. Rather than sitting idly, looking at where you can take action now to address challenges can help you channel the negative energy into something constructive.