ZS is driven by our values of treating people right, getting it right and doing the right thing. This shows up in the work we do across the firm to improve health outcomes for all, work that we consolidated and presented in our first environmental, social and governance (ESG) report. Developed in collaboration with ZSers around the world, this report reflects on “A year of passion and impact” and highlights the commitments, challenges and progress ZS made in 2022.
Sarah Petitt, our ESG communications strategist, says, “ESG can be a powerful tool for change. When companies start looking at themselves in the mirror and identifying the things they are and are not doing well, it forces them to take action. I believe ZSers genuinely want to make this change, and the report is an accountability measure to help us achieve our goals.”
Sarah joined ZS to lead our people and corporate communications, but quickly saw a need to expand her role. “We had all these different community groups and functional teams pushing for more systemic change across ESG areas but operating in siloes,” Sarah says. “Sitting on the corporate communications team, I started finding connections between the siloes and felt inspired to tell a larger, comprehensive story of our impact. It just so happens that, at the same time, a larger group of principals were thinking the same thing and saw a need to put strategic direction around our existing ESG work. This strategic direction came together organically from the passion of ZSers and now has the operations to scale further.”
While working on ZS’s 2022 report, Sarah uncovered countless projects that fall under the umbrella of ESG. From helping pharma companies diversify clinical trials and supporting clients who address drivers of health outside of healthcare to investing in diversity, equity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility initiatives, ZS has prioritized ESG for nearly 40 years. But having this work siloed across teams has limited our possibilities. Sarah was inspired to create the 2022 report so ZSers could see the convergence of projects and maximize the impact of our ESG goals.
“We can only drive tangible impact across ESG material issues if we work together on one unified mission,” explains Sarah. This mission is governed by three key teams—our shareholders council (board of directors), the ESG steering committee and ESG core team. After ZS conducted an ESG assessment in 2022 to identify our ESG priorities, the three cross-functional teams came together to strategize and help accelerate progress on those material issues: health equity; climate impact; diversity, equity and inclusion; data security and privacy; and ethics and transparency.
“Without safe, responsible and secure practices, we can’t earn the trust of our partners who propel life-changing solutions,” says Judith Kulich, ESG chair on the shareholders council. “Without sustainable operations, we can’t improve climate change—a social driver of health. Without a workplace culture that sees, hears, understands and includes its people in decision-making and diversifies its employee base, we can’t innovate in new and profound ways. Everything we focus on, all our material issues, coexist for a reason and are what will drive us toward improving health outcomes for all. They are also the areas where we, as ZSers, can have the most impact.”
After months of dedicated work and collaboration, Sarah is proud to share this report. She says, “The 2022 ESG report allows ZS to set tangible goals across these different priorities. These goals hold us accountable. We will measure our progress year over year in this annual report and share the goals in an accessible way so everyone can participate in creating healthy, fair and sustainable outcomes for all.”