Patsy Doerr is a leading expert in the fields of corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. Since 2011, she has lead the corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion and sustainability functions at Thomson Reuters globally. In 2017, she successfully launched the ESG Institute, a resource and support center tasked with building awareness and understanding around social impact. Patsy’s impact and success is rooted in more than 25 years of experience building and leading functions in for organizations including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us about your journey?
An innate change maker, I first entered the investment banking world finding areas that desperately needed improvement or needed to exist. In my first role, I saw the need to focus on talent development and created the department, from there I built diversity & inclusion departments with both internal and external implications. Most recently, I helped develop and launch the first ESG Institute. Each role I have taken did not exist before I stepped in.
What is your definition of success?
Personally and as a human being, I find success when I feel valued and genuinely happy in my life. I am content, but not complacent. To reach this point, I thrive on the influence of quality family, friends and connections.
As it relates to my career, I find success when I feel valued and know that my work is making an impact. I have found success by learning along the way and pushing myself to have new experiences that help me re-evaluate what success is and feels like.
Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is doing to become be more sustainable? Can you give an example for each?
At Thomson Reuters, we have many initiatives across the company that aid in our development to become a more sustainable and social impact supported organization. These include:
The ESG Footprint Committee — This team is comprised of facilities, real estate and finance leaders who are positioning our company to be carbon neutral through the use of renewable energy by 2020. The committee has put the targets in place and actively engages our employees to raise awareness of what sustainability means and how we can contribute to its success.
Green Teams — Our Green Teams are run by individuals in various roles throughout the company who have a passion for sustainability and help ideate, organize and execute initiatives that support the cause.
External Efforts — Thomson Reuters has made a conscious effort to invest in thought leadership on the subjects of sustainability and social impact. This can be seen in our annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report, Diversity & Inclusion Index and other supportive efforts. At the same time, we maintain our Sustainability site that showcases are own stories of sustainability as well as those of our clients and partners.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
In order to create and increase employee buy-in, you must develop a clear business case and have support from leadership. The hardest group to find interest and build traction is the frozen middle — the bulk of your employee base. To effectively reach middle managers, you must emphasize communication and education. Do people understand the value of what you’re trying to do? Have you given people an opportunity to contribute? Have you created a formalized process so employees know the work they will do will be noticed and is contributing to a greater good? The more education, awareness and value created, the more you are setting your employees up for success and the ability to thrive.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been many people throughout my life who have given me advice or opened a door that greatly impacted the trajectory of personal and professional endeavors — it is too hard to just identify one. What I will say, is that through my exposure and experiences I have found the importance of sponsors. A sponsor is someone who sees your work in action and knows it well enough to go out and talk about it when you aren’t in the room. They are a true advocate and can propel you forward in exponential ways. Sponsors differ from mentors in that mentors give you advice but aren’t always the ones willing to take action.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The nature of the work we do allows and positions me and my team to make a positive impact on our environments and communities on a daily basis. We focus on the environment, communities, gender equality and diversity for all. Not only are we driving change within an organization but by doing so, we are a voice and an example for the world.
Personally, the visibility of my work in sustainability and social impact at Thomson Reuters and my previous employers has opened up the opportunity for me to be a change agent in other capacities like being invited to participate on boards like Women’s World Banking and others.
What are your “Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why?
I must say, this list is always evolving and I continue to learn new things every day. If I had to identify the most relevant points right now, I would say…
- Identify your domain expertise. You have to possess a clear skill set or knowledge base to build credibility. Don’t start as a generalist, you need to differentiate yourself and create a clear need.
- Know what your core skills are outside of your domain expertise. Positions of leadership and impact will require you to collaborate with different teams who have different agendas and goals. You need to recognize if you have the ability to effectively reach them or need to improve.
- Have a sponsor — it takes time to build this type of relationship, but it is invaluable to have an advocate who is willing to work on your behalf without you needing to be in the room.
- Have an international experience — The world is becoming smaller and smaller every day. You will be better positioned for success and the opportunity to a multitude of roles if you have been exposed to different cultures and countries. In today’s global economy it is critical if you want to succeed in a senior role.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
This is such a great question! If I could inspire a movement, it would be to elevate what I’m doing now on an even bigger scale. I would engage more teams and more resources to spread the message about social impact to broader audiences and different parts of the world. The more that we can formalize the progression of social impact and embed it into our day-to-day lives, the better communities and environments will be.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Never be afraid to take a risk or face new situations. In my career I have moved to countries I’ve never visited and taken on roles that did not exist before. Had I let fear get in the way, some of the greatest opportunities I’ve experienced may not have happened.