Dept's global impact head on why people and planet must be in the same conversation
Pooja Dindigal spent seven years at B Lab before moving agency-side to help Dept progress its sustainability journey. She talks about the value of accreditation and why the next step for the industry is intersectionality.
Pooja Dindigal worked at B Lab for seven years before joining Dept
Dept’s Pooja Dindigal took the first steps of her career in the NGO space. “It was the vision I had for myself,” but she was drawn to the intersection of social change, sustainability and business as time went on.
“I was seeing that businesses can leverage change at scale and speed.” But she admits she was a little later to the sustainability party. Still, she says her seven-year stint at B Lab (the organization that grants B Corp certification) triggered her passion for the intersection between social justice issues and sustainability.
“About three of those years were spent in an auditing role, working with multinationals in the US in particular that wanted to join the B Corp movement.” But after gaining that experience, she was: “One step removed” from being able to make real change.
In her current role as global impact officer at Dept, she feels better placed to enact change from inside an organization, she says.
“My primary responsibility is helping us set, disseminate and drive progress towards our overall sustainability strategy. That involves helping the global executive set goals, KPIs, and understand what our core focus areas are. Still, then, I think more importantly, disseminating those goals and that knowledge towards all parts of the business.”
She explains that Dept has grown significantly in recent years through acquisitions: “So every time we bring a new team on board, we have to roll our sustainability strategy down to them and figure out where they fit in.”
However, she also helps Dept with its own internal impact reporting and certifications. “That includes our B Corp certification and our Climate Neutral certification.”
Dindigal describes accreditations of these kinds as “a carrot and stick approach.” “We set our own goals for our own impact and sustainability strategy, but having third-party standards that we’re reviewing against for recertification is important to make sure that we are staying accountable in the goals we set. There is a value in having a common language to guide our work.”
She also sees the inherent value in B Corp certification, due to its emphasis on people and the planet. She says this is also the case at Dept, outlining the agency’s four strategic pillars.
“Firstly is diversity, equity and inclusion, not just how that shows up in our internal team and what that means for diversity of our own workforce, but also in client work. Secondly is community involvement and how we partner with nonprofits to deliver 1% of our profit to pro bono work and donations. Then we have our external planet work, where we work with more impactful clients, other B Corps, more nonprofits and more purpose-driven enterprises. Then finally, we’re focussed on the climate for us: measuring, reducing, offsetting and making sure we’re optimizing in the most sustainable way possible.”
She derives the most satisfaction from supporting the team in their purpose-driven work. “I see how much power there is in interesting, engaging and inclusive campaigns.” More than anything, she says she identifies as a cheerleader and advocate for others to pursue this kind of work.
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“I do think we’re in a moment of cultural shifts, it’s so interesting to see how ESG departments are growing and the new regulation that is coming out in Europe and the US. While reporting and regulation are not the only things that enact culture change, I do think that if public companies were required to disclose their social and environmental impacts, we would be talking about it every month.”
She concluded that she sees the movement towards sustainability as a business imperative. “If your business is a climate risk, there are also likely human rights issues you need to address. It gives me hope seeing these two things discussed together.”