Boston Scientific’s Kathryn Unger on how to stand up an ESG program
Kathryn Unger, VP of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) at Boston Scientific, joined the medical device developer and manufacturer in September 2022 to form the ESG team.
“The patient is and must be at the center of everything we do,” she said on a DeviceTalks Boston panel sponsored by Canon Virgina in May. “We’re constantly trying to ensure that we have the absolute best patient outcome, from a risk-to-the-patient perspective, period. That has to be our guiding principle, right? However, that’s not an excuse to not improve the design of our medical devices. … There has to be product stewardship that starts before you get to the manufacturing piece. And that design needs to be circular and consider the full life cycle.”
Unger had advice for companies that want to launch their own ESG function or get some traction, and encouraged the industry to take a cooperative approach for everyone’s benefit.
“We’re all learning together,” she said. “For example, we’re pretty far along on the E, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in product stewardship and other things like that. We’re all doing this together. If we’re not asking questions, challenging, wondering what we can do to accelerate this, it’s going to take so long.”
Where to start with ESG
“I’m so proud to say that ESG is not new to Boston Scientific,” Unger said. “At our company, it’s actually grounded in science, in tangible action and in accountability. And we’ve been doing it for over 20 years. … More and more people are aware of what we need to be doing and getting engaged.”
Even if an organization has never had a formal ESG function, there are likely already bits and pieces everywhere you look.
“Find out the work that’s already happening in your organization,” Unger said. “We have people calling us, sending us emails, talking about the work they’re doing locally, whether they’re doing it in the E space trying to calculate their own carbon footprint and we tell them, ‘Hey, we’ve got members of our teams who are doing that.'”
In 2017 — well before Boston Scientific hired Unger for ESG — the company pledged to go carbon neutral and has since made its science-based target commitment and had it validated…