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Sustainable Nation

The Sustainable Nation Podcast delivers interviews with global leaders in sustainability and regenerative development three times a week. Our goal is to provide sustainability professionals, business leaders, academics and anyone interested in joining the sustainability revolution, with information and insights from the world's most inspiring change-makers.

Jan 31, 2022

Kristen B. Sullivan is a partner with Deloitte & Touche LLP and leads Sustainability and ESG Services, working with clients to help address their sustainability and non-financial disclosure strategy needs. Kristen also serves as the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Global Audit & Assurance Climate and Sustainability Services Leader and the Integrated Reporting Community of Practice Leader. Kristen brings extensive experience in delivering sustainability risk assessment, governance, strategy alignment, measurement, reporting, and assurance services.   Given the growing market emphasis on the importance of ESG standards and frameworks, Kristen serves as a member of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Community, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Assurance Task Force, the Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) Initiative Corporate Working Group, and as Chair of the AICPA Sustainability Task Force. She previously served on the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Working Group. 

Kristen has authored a number of publications around the value of sustainability and ESG disclosure and assurance. She was #10 on the 2020 Top 100 Corporate Social Responsibility Influence Leaders list.

Kristen has more than 25 years of experience with Deloitte, beginning her career in Deloitte’s Audit and Advisory Services, working in Deloitte’s National Office in several capacities, and working with the deputy CEO of Deloitte LLP focused on regulatory and public policy matters. Kristen is a CPA (CT, MO) and CGMA and earned SASB’s Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential. Kristen completed the Berkeley Law Executive Education Certification: ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role. 

Kristen also serves as a member of the Eureka College Board of Trustees and the Financial Women’s Association. Kristen lives in Greenwich, CT, with her three year old daughter.

Kristen Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • The role of assurance professionals in ESG
  • The future of comparability of data across the industry - a building blocks approach
  • The shift in approach to ESG toward integration
  • Where we are in transformational change in business
  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability professionals 

Kristen's Final Five Questions Responses

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I love this question. As I reflect on my journey and the fact that I didn't come to this space with an expertise or an ESG education, I always encourage professionals no matter where they are in their career to really look at, in a traditional corporate context as an example, where is that discipline that you align with? For me it was accounting. Whether it's marketing or operations, finance or legal, complementing a traditional discipline within an organization to really bring that depth and a perspective of the way ESG or sustainability overlays to bring a differentiated perspective to that discipline. We've seen that this “ESG expert” doesn't really exist per se, because we know that ESG performance and priority areas are so broad and diverse. So, bringing that perspective to an existing discipline within an organization is that tool, that effective way to help an organization drive integration within all parts of the business. 

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

The momentum, the energy, the passion that we're seeing by not the usual suspects in the market. For those of us who have been working in this space for a long time, the commitment and energy that we're seeing from within organizations. It's not just the sustainability team; it's the finance teams, operations, the supply chain, the talent teams that are all really engaging and driving this momentum. And then naturally, it's a reflection of where the market is headed more broadly, but I would say very simply that the momentum and the recognition that ESG is not a fading movement; it's really here to stay and it's going to become increasingly central to companies. It’s the license to operate and the license to grow.

What is one book you'd recommend sustainability professionals read?

It's hard to choose, but the first is Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism. It's a great book that came out not too long ago. Michael O'Leary creates and provides some practical examples of the way that the capital markets are evolving and the way in which ESG is so central to strategy. I've also always been a fan of John Mackey. Conscious Capitalism and Conscious Leadership are two of his books that provide great perspective and examples for those participating in this space at different levels of maturity.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

This will likely come as no surprise. While it's not super sexy, looking to the developments in the whole standards landscape. The largely voluntary standards today - standards and frameworks - there's a tremendous amount of guidance and practical tools that are provided for public use that really help translate these concepts into actionable business priorities, and really help guide companies along this journey toward preparedness for greater scrutiny. The work that that we do is naturally grounded in standards, and the value of a number of these resources is somewhat underplayed given that there's a wealth of accessible information out there.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work being done at Deloitte?

Visit our website, We have information about our sustainability ESG services, our thought leadership, and the way in which we engage as a professional services firm. Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter and search #deloitteESGnow. I'm very active in sharing our thought leadership, our perspectives, and the role that we feel is so critical that we play in contributing to this market momentum and ultimately our public interest role.