After the summer break I wanted the Monthly Interview to start again, giving a clear and strong signal of hope for change; I wanted a guest who, with his experience and know-how, would give us reason to believe that, despite the complicated period that so many of us are experiencing, it is possible to turn the boat towards favorable winds and always find good reasons to do so, with the will, the commitment and a good dose of optimism.

So I called Martina Rogato, a girl I discovered on Instagram during the lockdown period; tenacious and enthusiastic, Martina describes herself as “a Greta Thunberg without braids” and her job is “to accompany companies to be better with the environment and social life”. But Martina is also many other things and has a deep knowledge of sustainability in all its meanings and especially in the social one, of human rights.

Martina at work

So what better guest to resume our column, which itself wants to be an approach and at the same time a stimulus to look and be inspired by people like us, who have however decided to change the world?

So Martina, you are and you do a lot of things! Would you like to tell me about your training and how you came to occupy such important roles at your young age, abroad it would be normal but here it is always an exception. So you can give some indications to those who are still studying and are interested in following a path similar to yours. And then we like stories!

Thanks for the question Barbara! I am 36 years old and have been dealing with sustainability for 11 years. I believe that passionate study and resourcefulness have guided my training. I studied international relations in Rome but as a good hyperactive, I have always pawed among the desks and therefore always accompanied the lessons tout court to internships and volunteering to learn practical things. In those years I started my path of activism in Amnesty International, a real training ground for life and organization that was the first in Italy to introduce the theme of corporate accountability and responsibility. Thanks to Amnesty I studied the topic thoroughly and helped the Italian section to create content on the subject. And because I was quite self-confident, the section gradually started sending me around for conventions and conferences. In my career I obtained two degrees on the topic of sustainability and since in those years it was difficult even to have a simple internship experience on Corporate Social Responsability (CSR) in companies, I started collaborating in research activities on sustainable development with my thesis professor. This experience also led me to the European Commission in Brussels to support the Enterprise Directorate-General to carry out an in-depth study on CSR in China. Subsequently, thanks to a master’s degree in Green Management at Bocconi, the doors of consultancy opened to me. My activism for Amnesty lasted until 2016, when, with some friends, we created Human Rights International Corner, our vertical organization on the subject of corporate conduct for human rights.

Nice path, congratulations! You are also the creator, along with other peers, of Young Women Network (YWN). Can you tell us what it is?

I founded Young Women Network (YWN) with four friends; it is the first non-profit organization in Italy committed to the empowerment of young women. Today we are a group of 40 volunteers and 400 associates and we deal with 4 macro-activities: promotion of professional networking, training on soft skills (courses on public speaking, negotiation, self-confidence); mentoring and finally advocacy courses to propose concrete initiatives to institutions to overcome the gender and generation gap.

Martina in red with her colleagues of YWN

And, again, you are the youngest delegate of Women20 (the G20 engagement group dedicated to gender equality); what is your role and what battles do you carry on, in what areas?

I joined the Italian delegation of Women20 (W20) in 2019, which today I have the pleasure of coordinating together with my Co-Head, Elvira Marasco. W20 is made up of a group of experts on gender equality and representatives of civil society and each nation of the 20 countries of the Summit has its own delegation. Our job is to make recommendations for the G20 Summit on gender equity. The main themes of the G20 that will be held in Saudi Arabia this year are: women in business and finance, digital gender equality and inclusion in decision making. On December 1, Italy will welcome the Saudi baton for the 2021 G20 in Rome and I will take on the position of W20 Sherpa. The name ‘Sherpa’ originally refers to Tibetan guides whose job is to guide people from the slopes to the summit of the Himalayas. Generally the task of the Sherpas is to lead the Summit in defining the contents and themes to be pursued. Together with my colleagues, we will listen to civil society and stakeholders and identify the most relevant equality issues to be submitted to the G20.

A task of great responsibility, good Martina. Going back to the previous question, I believe that ‘sustainability’ today also means giving voice and support to the most disadvantaged workers who, with the Covid emergency, have certainly suffered a worsening of their already precarious working conditions (I refer to the textile / fashion sector because our area). What actions do you think should be done to improve their situation?

With the colleagues of W20 we have extensively addressed the problem of the impact of Covid on women. And numerous associations, such as Clean Clothes Campaign, have dealt with workers in the textile supply chain, between canceled orders and not paid even though the garments had been produced, and unpaid wages. Covid confirms that it is time to change the fashion paradigm, unbridled consumption is not sustainable in environmental and social terms and it is only by changing the mindset of consumers that we can influence the system. Education first and then the institutions to ask for greater transparency and traceability of products. I also believe that the audit work carried out today by the certifying bodies should not be financially supported by the companies but a non-partisan third party is needed to carry out the checks.

If I’m not mistaken, you help and accompany companies in various sectors to undertake sustainability paths; what are the aspects in which you find the greatest difficulties / resistances? And which are the simplest or, let’s say, the least complicated?

Our sector is truly varied, there are companies with sustainable DNA that really want to make a difference in the business and others who still think that it is enough to use a natural fiber or support a social cause to adopt a sustainability approach. Sustainability is a management approach, it means first looking at one’s own production cycle and asking oneself about any social and environmental impacts and then taking measures in this regard. It is a continuous implementation process. Another taboo is that relating to costs. Sustainability is also an optimization of processes and the use of resources to avoid waste. And even when in the short term it is a cost in innovation and / or research, then it returns as a positioning investment in the long term.

‘Sustainability’ is a very broad term, which can mean many things: if you had to replace it with three words, which ones would you use and why?

Sustainability as a ‘management practice’ or ‘mindset change’.

Thanks Martina and congratulations again for your commitment and path.

As you may have noticed, I did not ask Martina for the ‘nomination’ of the next guest; from now on, the interviewee of the month will be truly a surprise, so we also take away from our guests the task of the ‘nomination’ at all costs.

So who will be the October guest? You will find out only by living 😉

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