Sandra Taylor

Former Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Starbucks and Founder and CEO of Sustainable Business International
Sandra Taylor Speaker
  • Turned one of the most successful corporations, Starbucks, into one of the most progressive during her tenure
  • Addresses business advantages of Corporate Social Responsibility, Philanthropy, and Sustainability
  • Created cause-marketing campaigns to fund clean drinking water programs in Africa, Central America, and India

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Sandra E. Taylor is CEO of SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS INTERNATIONAL, a consulting business she launched in 2008 that assists organizations at various stages of environmental sustainability and social responsibility practice. Taylor’s expertise provides innovative approaches to sustainability strategy, including supply chain sustainability, strategic philanthropy, stakeholder engagement, ESG analysis and social investments.

Previously Taylor was senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, Washington (2003 – 2008), where she led the strategic development and day-to-day direction of all global corporate responsibility programs, including: development of responsible, ethical and sustainable standards for coffee, tea, cocoa supply chains; reduction of the environmental impact of business operations;  community affairs; the Starbucks Foundation and disaster relief support.  At Starbucks tenure Taylor led the creation of C.A.F.E. Practices, a code of conduct for coffee farmers worldwide; and also developed cause-marketing programs for Ethos water in Starbucks stores, to fund clean drinking water programs in Africa, Central America and India.

From 1996 until 2003, Taylor served as vice president and director of global public affairs for Eastman Kodak Company. As a corporate officer, she had overall responsibility for government relations worldwide, international trade strategy and led a global team responsible for corporate citizenship in numerous countries where Kodak did business. Notably she created a successful marketing plan for Kodak’s re-entry into South Africa after its disinvestment during apartheid there.

Additionally, Taylor has held several senior leadership positions at top-tier organizations, such as vice president of public affairs for ICI Americas Inc. (the U.S. subsidiary of London-based Imperial Chemical Industries Plc.). She also served as a legislative assistant in the United States Senate, focusing on international trade policy and was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State. She speaks French.

Ms. Taylor serves on several nonprofit and publicly company boards, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation of Annapolis, MD and Island Press of Washington, DC   In October 2021 she was elected to the board of directors of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Nasdaq) where she serves on the Compensation Committee and the Nomination and Governance Committee. Previously she was a board director of Capella Education Company in Minneapolis, and the board of directors of D. E. Master Blenders 1753, an international coffee company in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Taylor has been as Expert-in-Residence at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, a First Mover Fellow in Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program and was the Falk Professor of Socially Responsible Business at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. Taylor has a BA in French from Colorado Women’s College, a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law and Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Bordeaux School of Management in France.

She is a writer and published her first book, The Business of Sustainable Wine: How to Build Brand Equity in a 21st Century Wine Industry in 2017.  She resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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ESG: The Role of Corporate Governance in Environmental Sustainability and Why It Matters. Investors are increasingly applying environmental, social, and governance factors as part of the process to identify material risks and opportunities. Many corporate CEOs and investors recognize that sustainability issues are material to the long-term success of their businesses, and that effective management of social and environmental risks can improve business performance and produce very tangible financial results.

Having served on public company boards since the early 2000s and up to today, Sandra Taylor outlines the reasons why it is vital for board directors to consider the full spectrum of risks companies face, including water scarcity, human rights, diversity, equity, and social justice, and why they are priorities for both internal and external stakeholders. She explains to audiences how companies can successfully integrate ESG into their business planning and strategy, as well as how and when sustainability issues can:

  • Impact or enhance a company’s strategy and vision
  • Necessitate board level oversight and accountability
  • Influence risk identification and management
  • Require changes to board composition and expertise, and
  • Improve external disclosure.

The Evolution and Shaping of Corporate Social Responsibility. What began as corporate giving largely tied to yearly profits has evolved into a vital aspect of business operations for organizations of all sizes. In the early phases of corporate social responsibility (CSR), companies acknowledged a responsibility to their communities, but their approaches were often reactive and, at times, in their own self-interest. It’s a stigma that businesses are still trying to contend with today.

In this talk, CSR pioneer Sandra Taylor shares her career journey as a leader in advancing CSR and environmental, social, and governance principles in business. She draws from her own experiences leading through challenging corporate environments to provide proven tactics for managing through crisis, conducting philanthropy and community affairs the right way, and adapting to the challenges of globalization for American companies. In doing so, she shares lessons in meaningful corporate citizenship and best practices for integrating social responsibility into global business strategy and product supply chains.

The Purpose of the Corporation: Net-Zero Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. As the concept of achieving net-zero emissions has grown from an emerging idea to a mainstream mechanism for countries, cities, and corporations to drive emissions reductions and limit the effects of climate change, today’s investors are looking for more than an airtight business plan when deciding which companies to invest in. They’re looking for companies with a defined mission and values, and who exhibit commitment to social purpose and environmental sustainability.

In a discussion focused on business and the environment, former Starbucks SVP of Corporate Social Responsibility and CEO of Sustainable Business International Sandra Taylor reveals sought-after insights for devising a written business strategy for achieving net-zero targets, while discussing the importance of being transparent in the scope and boundary of those targets and how your organization will track its progress in achieving them.

The Purpose of the Corporation: Sustainability and Social Justice. Before the pandemic, The Business Roundtable, composed of CEOs from America’s leading companies, redefined the purpose of a corporation. They pivoted from the traditional focus on shareholder primacy and, instead announced a new vision centered on fostering a free-market economy that serves all Americans with corporate purpose at the foundation.

What promoted this disruption of long-held values of corporate purpose? And how can companies determine purposes that uplift their communities and are consistent with their business strategies in the face of climate change and social unrest? In this talk, Sandra Taylor, a leading voice in corporate social responsibility and environmental, social, and governance issues, shares how organizations can operate naturally at the intersection of what’s healthy for business and what’s healthy for society to position themselves for profit while honoring their values. She shines the light on lessons we can learn from companies leading the way in CSR and ESG, while emphasizing the key role that employees play as a lens into risk and opportunity for businesses, and how they provide impactful insights needed to create a vibrant company committed to sustainability.

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