May 2, 2019
Supply and a good brand: Meet Michelle Albanese, head of responsible sourcing
TD is proud to employ more than 85,000 individuals across North America and around the world, many of them in unique roles that aren't often associated with financial institutions.
In our latest 'Meet TD' series, we introduce you to some of the people at the bank who come in every day to make our business more environmentally sustainable, and to address climate change in the communities we serve.
What do eco-friendly furniture, promotional products and courier services have in common?
How about choosing a consulting firm or computer hardware?
For Michelle Albanese, TD's head of responsible sourcing and supplier diversity, these are only a few examples of the many products and services she reviews in order to find opportunities to reduce the bank's environmental footprint. Albanese and the rest of the Strategic Sourcing Group team are tasked with finding, engaging, assessing and recommending products and services from suppliers who adopt sound social, ethical and environmental practices in the journey to advance responsible sourcing standards at TD.
"It's important for us to work with others who are doing everything they can to limit their environmental footprint and run businesses in a way that's consistent with our own values when possible," said Albanese, who worked as a consultant, worked for a non-profit and in government before coming to TD six years ago.
In all, TD works with roughly 22,000 suppliers every year. Using TD's Supplier Code of Conduct (which frames the values and standards TD expects of its suppliers) as a guide, Albanese works with internal business partners to fulfill their requests for products and services that help meet the bank's environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility goals.
While factors such as end-to-end costs also determine whether the bank chooses to work with a supplier, Albanese said it's working with vendors throughout TD's corporate offices and branches to make small changes incrementally that lead to greater impact that the organization can be proud of.
A 'hands together' approach to addressing climate change
But it isn't all about choosing the right carpeting or professional services. Albanese also leads TD's carbon supply chain program, which encourages key vendors to report their carbon emissions. Perhaps the most fulfilling part of Albanese's role, however, is working closely with suppliers to help them examine their environmental policies and practices so that they can find opportunities for improvement together. TD also uses contractual clauses when working with vendors that encourage sustainable behavior and reduces environmental impact.
"We have the resources, skills and expertise needed to make a difference and to act as a leader in this field," said Albanese. "It's not only expected of us, but something the bank has shown it is committed to doing."
For instance, in 2017, TD announced its commitment to setting a target of CDN $100 billion toward low-carbon lending, financing, asset management and other programs by the year 2030.
While focusing on how suppliers can cut waste is crucial, finding ways to engage employees in addressing climate change is also critical.
In October 2018, Albanese worked on a town hall event for 200 employees from Canada and the United States that was held at a hotel with a very specific goal in mind.
"We wanted to make the event carbon neutral and waste free, so we did just that!" she said, adding the bank worked with a third-party provider and the venue to avoid using plastics and disposable items.
23 tonnes of carbon offset
In the end, roughly 23 tonnes of carbon that would have been generated through the event was offset.
While the opportunity to make a bigger impact by working at a large organization is what brought Albanese to TD, it was a visit to a landfill that took place over two decades ago that confirmed her decision to pursue a career in environmental sustainability.
"We were over this massive, open space as hundreds of birds were flying overhead due to the smell of garbage, and there were dozens of trucks lined up to dump more waste," said Albanese, whose brother was working in waste management at the time. "I asked him to bring me, so I could experience it firsthand. It's still something I often reflect on."
While the amount of waste Albanese saw at the time was eye opening, instead of feeling daunted, Albanese used the moment to focus on the opportunity for change.
"There is still so much we need to do," she said. "But working here has shown me just how large our reach can be. When you work with thousands of suppliers and for a company with over eighty-five thousand employees, it becomes clear that we can create a domino effect of positivity."