Meet Nina Runstein Minney, the Senior Social Responsibility Director at Vizient. Nina joined Vizient in March 2023 and draws on her experience in nonprofit work, corporate communications, sustainability, and ESG initiatives. Beyond the corporate realm, Nina is deeply involved in community and family connections, leading the green team at her local temple, and finding balance through her Iyengar yoga practice. We asked Nina some questions about her career path, engaging internal stakeholders, how she collects data, and what is giving her hope while doing this imperative work.
Could you share a pivotal moment in your life or career that shaped your perspective and inspired you to pursue your current path as a social responsibility professional?
My daughter, who is now a college student, came home from elementary school one day and informed me that there was no recycling in her school cafeteria. This caught our attention, having recently moved to Texas from California, where our school had a thriving parent-driven zero-waste lunch program that included reusable containers, recycling, and composting.
I set about launching a cafeteria recycling program, which led to the creation of the school’s first student green team and eventually, the elimination of non-recyclable serving trays and containers across the 55 schools in our district, and sustainable language in the district’s strategic plan for the first time. I continue to draw on the lessons I learned starting at the grassroots level and building support step by step.
What are some interesting ways you’ve engaged your internal stakeholders at Vizient concerning social responsibility?
This year at Vizient, we implemented a new approach — an internal communication toolkit to accompany our annual corporate responsibility report. The toolkit links to a report slide library with “grab and go” content our internal teams can insert into their presentations to provide more context around Vizient’s purpose and our impact in areas like DEI, environmental sustainability, and health equity.
We’ve been socializing the toolkit through internal channels as well as directly with teams across the company. Our sales organization quickly recognized the value of this content when building trust with customers. We will partner with them closely when developing next year’s toolkit to enable their success and reach a larger audience.
Metrics play a crucial role in successful social responsibility programs. Can you elaborate on your approach to collecting and reporting data?
Though today most ESG data does not require third-party assurance, all ESG data can and should be audit-ready. If our internal audit team wants to dig into sources, calculations, methodologies, or any other concerns, there should be a clear trail they can follow — and they should be able to easily generate the same metrics on their own.
I view any unwritten information that has not been formally documented and is primarily shared via word of mouth as an enemy of good corporate governance. Internal transparency increases resilience, whereas unwritten information can lead to a lack of accountability and continuity.
I am currently working with our internal audit team to drive performance improvement around data collection and tracking, including detailed process documentation and standard operating procedures. They are excited to collaborate this way and even tried to recruit me to their team (don’t worry, I’m staying put!).
In your view, what role can brands like Vizient play in driving systemic change toward a more sustainable and ethical future, and how do you address that responsibility in your work?
Vizient is the country’s largest healthcare performance improvement company, working with more than 60% of the nation’s acute care providers. Though our corporate footprint is small relative to the market, we seek to model best practices and drive positive impacts across our own business in alignment with our customers. For example, we have signed the Department of Health and Human Services’ White House Climate Pledge and embarked on a path to net zero alongside others in the health care industry.
We have an even greater opportunity — and responsibility— to invest in and empower the communities where Vizient and our customers do business. In addition to a robust community impact program, we position our customer-facing health equity and sustainability offerings to drive positive impacts throughout the healthcare industry at scale.
Establishing trust with your stakeholders is a vital aspect of this work. How do you approach building trust in your role?
I always try to approach the conversation from the perspective of providing business value. For the human resources team, I focus on talent attraction and retention. For the sales team, I focus on competitive differentiators and customer pain points.
In addition, I am very open about being an “imperfect environmentalist.” My personal mission is to show the world accessible ways to embed sustainability into our personal and professional lives in order to create a world of environmental health, equity, and justice. The “accessible” part of that means meeting people where they are. I try to help every person I connect with figure out how to move their own little grain of sand.
What is currently giving you hope?
So many things! One is the number of young people I see going into environmental sustainability and social impact careers. Another is the capacity for AI and other technologies to rapidly accelerate solutions to tackle climate issues and other complex problems. I am excited to see our business development team approaching environmental sustainability in the context of value creation. I am also that person who takes a picture every time I see a compost bin in an airport or public place because I recognize and deeply appreciate how much work went into making that happen.