May 26th, 2011

Part Three of Trailblazer Interview: Deborah Leipziger - CR Pioneer


This post concludes my three part interview (read Part One and Part Two) with corporate responsibility trailblazer, Deborah Leipziger, and author of The Corporate Responsibility Code Book and Social Accountability 8000: The Definitive Guide to the New Social Standard.

Today, I’m going to ask Deborah three very important questions about cultivating trailblazers.  Let’s begin:


Betsey:  What other innovative groundbreakers have influenced you? 

Deborah: I have been very blessed to work with many amazing trailblazers, including Alice Tepper Marlin at Social Accountability International, John Elkington with whom I have served on boards, and Jane Nelson at the Kennedy School at Harvard who has been a friend and mentor.


Betsey:  How are you trying to instill the value of trailblazing leadership in your children and/or the young people you mentor? 

Deborah: Picasso once said that all children are born artists, the challenge is to remain one as you get older. I think the same is true of trailblazers. All of us are born wanting to discover and break new ground.

To forge a path is a creative act and creativity does need to be nurtured. Schools and parents play an important role in nurturing creativity and fostering trail blazing. One of the best ways to nurture a respect for trailblazers is to encourage young people and children to read biographies of change agents such as Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others.

I think it is especially important to empower girls and young women to see themselves as agents of change.


Betsey:  How are you cultivating other trailblazers these days?

Deborah:  One way that I am cultivating other trailblazers is to help define the language of sustainability. I am working on a Sustainability Lexicon, a wiki, which provides definitions of key concepts in the fields of environment, health, human rights, diversity etc. I have an excellent team: the wiki is hosted by the MurnPost, a terrific platform, founded by Marcy Murninghan. I am also very fortunate to be working with Bill Baue and Joshua Gay, all of whom are visionary. It’s a dream team.

It’s empowering to ask people to share new terms that they have coined or terms that they find helpful.  Kathrin Winkler from EMC has shared the term D-waste:

  • D-Waste: Data that is unnecessarily consuming storage resources.

The sustainability angle: While data is an increasingly important part of our world and a source of non-material value creation, it can also be cause of wasted resource consumption.  Studies repeatedly show that a majority of stored data is never accessed again. And while only a small portion needs to be retained for compliance, a huge proportion is stored multiple times due to wide distribution and/or retention of multiple copies that have only minor difference. This data is consuming physical resources used to create systems, bandwidth in networks, and especially energy required to power and cool the storage equipment. Another category of D-waste includes data that do require retention, e.g., for contingency or compliance, but are being stored at the unnecessarily high performance levels that can consume an order of magnitude more energy than when stored on slower, larger disk drives. Technologies such as data de-duplication and automated storage tiering help mitigate the issue of D-waste.

I welcome examples of important new concepts to our wiki.


Betsey:  Thank you, Deborah.  Your answers have given our readers and me deeper insights into the mindset of trailblazers.  It’s been a real pleasure and I hope our paths continue to cross!


Deborah Leipziger advises companies, governments, and UN agencies on corporate responsibility (CR) issues.  She has advised leading multinational companies on strategic and supply chain issues, as well as a wide range of CR initiatives, including the UN’s Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, the UN Environment Programme, the Human Rights Impact Assessment, and Social Accountability International.  She serves as a member of several boards including the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investment for Aviva plc in the UK and the Center for Ethics at Manhattanville College, USA.  She has served on the International Board of Advisors of Instituto Ethos in Brazil. 

The link to her Sustainability Lexicon wiki is:

She is the author of The Corporate Responsibility Code Book, now in its second edition (Greenleaf, 2010) and co-author of Living Corporate Citizenship (FT, 2002) and Corporate Citizenship: Successful Strategies of Responsible Companies, (FT, 1998). She is the author of Social Accountability 8000: The Definitive Guide to the New Social Standard (FT Prentice Hall, 2001).  Her books have been translated into Portuguese, French, Korean, and Chinese.

Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger has a Masters in Public Policy from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from Manhattanville College in Economics and International Studies.  For more information, go to


To continue the discussion of trailblazer mindsets, comment below or connect with me through one of my networks below: 



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Welcome to Fresh Tracks, Inc.™ Guide Posts – Our Founder/CEO, Betsey Dalbeck, created this blog to IGNITE trailblazing leadership in CEOs and their leadership teams. Purpose: 1) Keep clients and colleagues focused on innovation, 2) Offer actionable advice, 3) Build knowledge and confidence, and 4) Create a forum of idea exchange for Trailblazers. Bookmark and Share Check out my profile!