Member Spotlight: Jamal BookerJune 6, 2019 | BIER
Name: Jamal Booker, Sustainablility Communications Manager
Company: The Coca-Cola Company
Connect with Jamal on LinkedIn
Which of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements are you most proud of?
The initiative that I’m most proud of is the World Without Waste initiative. There is a clear packaging problem, and as the world is dealing with the issue of marine debris — we set out to collect a bottle or can for each one we sell by 2030. This is a big goal, and it is going to take a lot of partnership to get there. We know we can’t do it alone, so part of it is partnering with others who want to do this work as well, including communities, governments, and even our competitors. It pushes us as an organization to think about how we can have the most positive impact possible. It sets the bar high for working with partners and within our organization.
What is your favorite practical insight you have gained from being in BIER?
A lot of the sustainability groups outside of BIER that I’m a part of include different industries across the board. I think that BIER, in particular, helps narrow the focus on the beverage industry to collectively understand what our industry stakeholders are looking for, what the issues are that we face together, and where we can partner together — both for real issues to the business and reporting. One of the most beneficial things for me in BIER was when we, as a group, sat down with mainstream investors to get candid feedback: what’s working, what could be better? That has been very helpful for me in producing the reports that I’ve been a part of.
How has being in BIER shaped your sustainability strategy/enriched your sustainability strategy?
I think BIER has provided me with the considerations to think through when determining what the stakeholders within our industry want to see. There are so many different sustainability players and questionnaires and ways to invest energy and time. I think being part of BIER has helped me focus on which indices may hold more weight with different investor groups that are interested in certain topics within our particular industry. It has helped me ask the right questions to our subject matter experts within the organization when it comes to our strategy and disclosure. Through BIER, I get a better sense of what the trends are in the industry, where to push on strategy, and what we should consider reporting on.
What area(s) of BIER’s work and working group initiatives are you most interested in? Why?
I am really excited to discuss the different ratings agencies that are out there. One of the common challenges that we have amongst BIER members is the plethora of ratings questionnaires that we all get and the inconsistencies between them. For example, rating agency A may give you bonus points if your organization does a certain thing, but rating agency B might take points away for doing that same thing. Collectively, the BIER Transparency and Disclosure working group is beginning to discuss how we as organizations can work together with investors to get accurate information directly to them without going through third-parties that have their own agendas. BIER has given us the opportunity to be in the same room with investors to speak with them directly to explain the rationale about why different investments and plans may or may not make sense for our business, and the investors agreed. What these questionnaires are missing is context. I’m excited to have an additional, efficient stakeholder engagement and communication opportunity with investors and BIER colleagues to help ensure the many ratings agencies are best reflecting the nature of the sector and our organizations.
What’s one cool thing people might not know about you or your company?
One thing people might not know about me — I’m actually a historian, I spent my first 12 years with The Coca-Cola Company as an archivist in our archives department before moving to sustainability communications.
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.