Lifetime achievement award: Paulette Frank

After more than 25 years at Johnson & Johnson, Paulette Frank has become an integral part of the company’s sustainability strategy. We explore how and why

For over 25 years, Paulette Frank has worked for Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the world’s largest and most diversified healthcare company. While building her highly-successful and decorated career, Frank became a passionate environmentalist, dedicated to driving the global agenda for a sustainable future. 

This passion has led her to her current role as J&J’s Chief Sustainability Officer, where she oversees the creation and implementation of worldwide environmental sustainability and human rights strategies to improve the company and advance it towards a more resilient, equitable and sustainable future. She is also responsible for defining J&J’s strategic direction and for identifying and supporting solutions at the intersection of human and environmental health.

The path to success 

Prior to her current role, Frank held the position of Worldwide Vice President, Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability at J&J. During this tenure, she provided thought leadership and strategic direction to advance the organisation’s Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability mission across the breadth of J&J’s businesses. She also represents the company in external forums, partnerships and stakeholder engagements, providing a voice for the company’s values and commitment to helping create a healthy future for people, communities and the planet.

Working by the motto of ‘healthy people need a healthy planet’, Frank is dedicated to focusing on improving J&J’s environmental footprint through the company’s operations, value chain and products. She explains that this will have “a positive impact on planetary health and human health, while supporting the resilience of our business for generations to come”.

J&J’s commitment to sustainability

With Frank’s guidance, J&J announced the Company’s current set of climate goals in September 2020. This includes J&J’s ongoing transition to renewable electricity and carbon neutrality in its global operations and reduction of upstream carbon emissions. At present, over 65% of J&J’s worldwide electricity comes from renewable sources. This includes more than 50 on-site renewable energy systems on properties in 20 countries as well as 15 contracts for off-site renewable electricity procurement.

What’s more, the company is investing in energy efficiency programs at R&D and manufacturing sites. One of the initiatives is the CO2 Capital Relief Programme, supporting energy efficiency initiatives at its manufacturing and R&D facilities with the highest energy consumption. 

Each project selected must demonstrate the potential for significant emissions reduction and a minimum financial return of 15%. Since the programme's inception in 2005, J&J has successfully executed around 270 projects, resulting in the avoidance of approximately 320,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year.

In addition, J&J is actively collaborating with suppliers to decrease emissions throughout its upstream value chain.

Frank explains: “As the world’s largest healthcare company, we have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the people we serve.” 

This includes providing a specific focus to people and communities that experience the greatest impacts of climate change – especially on their health – as well as the most vulnerable facing disproportionate risks due to where they live and their lack of access to resources. 

“With like-minded partners, we are working to address challenges related to climate change and health equity,” she continues. This includes actively backing initiatives such as the Climate and Health Equity Fellowship, which aims to empower doctors of colour to assume leadership roles in education, advocacy and patient care. 

Additionally, J&J has collaborated with Americares and Harvard Chan C-CHANGE to enhance the resilience of healthcare clinics in the US. These clinics cater to individuals with limited access to care, particularly in communities that are highly susceptible to the effects of climate change.

What’s more, J&J is actively collaborating with suppliers to decrease emissions throughout its upstream value chain. One of the initiatives is the CO2 Capital Relief Programme, where J&J dedicates up to US$40m annually to support energy efficiency initiatives at its manufacturing and R&D facilities with the highest energy consumption. 

Each project selected must demonstrate the potential for significant emissions reduction and a minimum financial return of 15%. Since the programme's inception in 2005, J&J has successfully executed around 250 projects, resulting in the avoidance of approximately 300,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Awards and accolades 

Former co-chair of the Enterprise Governance Council and the Supply Chain Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Council, Frank is currently the Executive Sponsor of the youth pillar of J&J’s Women in STEM²D (WiSTEM²D) initiative, the Executive Sponsor of the Global Operations Leadership Development (GOLD) program, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY).

As an esteemed speaker and participant, Frank is in high demand at international workshops and conferences, effectively advocating for J&J’s values and enduring dedication to fostering a sustainable future for individuals, communities and the planet. Previously serving as co-chair, she currently maintains a position as a member of the Advisory Board for the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY).

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