Member Spotlight: Leticia AcostaJune 18, 2020 | BIER
Name: Leticia Acosta, Corporate Sr. Manager – Global Environmental Sustainability
Company: Constellation Brands
Connect with Leticia on LinkedIn
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.
I contribute to the development and execution of a broad-based, company-wide strategic sustainability initiative for Constellation Brands. My focus is on ensuring that sustainability efforts enhance business performance and supports the long-term interests of the company. In my role, I collaborate with operations leaders in setting enterprise-wide environmental sustainability objectives, goals, policies, standards, environmental performance measures, and effectively identifying, assessing and managing risks and opportunities. I have been with the company for 1 year.
How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years and what are your specific priorities for 2020?
As an agriculture-based company, environmental issues are not only important to us – they are an essential component to our continued growth and success. Because we rely on the land for our livelihood, it is critical that Constellation does all it can to ensure clean water, air and soil at all of our sites and in all of the countries where we operate.
Our sustainability program has evolved from being an individual contributor responsibility to a Corporate Reputation and CSR team whose objective is to build our reputation as an industry-shaping, consumer-obsessed, high-performing CPG company and good corporate citizen. We are pursuing this objective while minimizing our collective impact in areas where we live and work by fostering goodwill and advocacy for Constellation Brands among key stakeholders through our programs and communications (e.g. employees, investors, prospective employees, consumers/community, policymakers).
While we keep working on our sustainability strategy priorities for 2020, Constellation Brands’ current focus is to support our industry and the local communities where we operate, particularly many of our retailer partners – local restaurants, bars and their employees, who have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 situation and the first responder community who is working tirelessly to help our communities in this difficult time.
How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully address the key areas you are addressing in 2020?
BIER is a group of beverage industry leaders and technical experts who work together and collaborate on different topics related to environmental sustainability within the beverage industry. All members track ESG metrics at different levels and are faced with similar challenges in our industry related to metrics monitoring and disclosure.
The BIER quarterly meetings, the different workgroups and conversations amongst the members are great resources to share, understand and evaluate our industry and market trends, which is very helpful when setting and disclosing ESG targets and metrics. I believe being part of BIER helps members to be part of the process of shaping the future of beverage industry environmental sustainability topics.
Name one of the practical solutions or best practices you learned in working with BIER and its members and why it was important to you and/ or your company.
I find participation in working groups very valuable. The level of the discussions and knowledge is very helpful in order to exchange ideas, solve problems and develop guides, tools, calculators, and materials that benefits not only the members, but the beverage industry in general.
This is my first year as the representative for Constellation Brands and the Water Stewardship workgroup and the Energy & Climate workgroups have been extremely useful.
Share a recent accomplishment of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why.
Constellation Brands recently established a Corporate Reputation and CSR group. It includes the corporate environmental sustainability and social functions and the corporate communications team. Although the functions have existed in the company for many years, we are now housed under one group, which has enhanced the collaboration opportunities for the environmental sustainability and social initiatives across the company.
In addition, being one with the communications team helps to elevate our environmental sustainability initiatives and message, which is very important in order to accomplish our sustainability objectives in 2020 and beyond.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be and how would you use it?
Superpower: be able to implant ideas into people’s minds and integrate them into a person’s memory.
Use: I would implant the idea about the importance of conservation of natural resources and the importance of taking care of the world’s environment. This way, people will do it naturally as it will be a part of their being.
In your response to the evolution of your company’s sustainability journey, a key mindset shift was transitioning from sustainability in a silo to a broad platform aimed at leadership and innovation in the beverage industry. Can you share more regarding how that journey unfolded?
One of the hallmarks of Constellation’s success is our ability to meet and stay ahead of our consumers’ and customers’ needs. Over the last few years, sustainability issues became increasingly more important to consumers, suppliers, and investors, and while there were very impactful sustainability efforts underway throughout the organization, they were somewhat fragmented. We realized we could better empower our teams, and improve our collective impact with a more comprehensive company-wide approach. This, in turn, will also allow us to share a more consistent story and message with those key stakeholder groups.
Prior to your present role, you had experience, knowledge, and sustainability expertise to assist you. Speaking to the professionals and sustainability practitioners that are new on their journey, or are working in a siloed capacity, what advice would you give to them?
One of the things that is the most important is to ask questions and be willing to learn from people that have experience. It’s equally important to learn how to speak about sustainability and communicate it in understandable ways to different people in your company so that they understand and believe in what you’re proposing. – I think that’s one of the most important skills you can have – influence and communication.
Specifically, if you’re going to present to an audience, you have to learn who your audience is. You have to learn why you’re there and what do they need? For instance, I talk to our Investor Relations Group because they are the ones that are closest to our investors. When I speak with them, I want to make sure that I talk about subjects that matter to them.
BIER Publications referenced in this interview:
Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable
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.
By BIER [crp]