Xavier Houot on ESG


“The Big Agenda around Regulation and Politics Needs to Meet the Small Agenda around Personal Action on the Ground”

The Resonance Test 71: Xavier Houot

December 2, 2021
by Elaina Shekhter‎ Ken Gordon
Xavier Houot 2019

It’s easy enough to talk about ESG in the board room, at a town hall, even on a podcast. The tough part is making it real, comme on dit.

Which brings us to today’s guest, Xavier Houot, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business and Operations at Schneider Electric—an organization that was recently named the world’s most sustainable corporation.

In a spirited dialogue with Elaina Shekhter, EPAM’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Houot explains Schneider Electric’s comprehensive and holistic approach to ESG.

“We start with looking at the challenges outside of ourselves,” says Houot, adding that Schneider Electric views itself “from an outside-in perspective.” They consider the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. They compare themselves with the best performers in each category of ESG—the best on safety, the best on circularity—and of course they consider their performance in relation to their performance of the previous six months.

“It's not very important to please ourselves saying we are better than we were [six months before]…. If we are better but it's not enough, that frankly doesn't make the world a better place.”

Houot and Shekhter’s conversation swerves in a variety of interesting directions: Straight into Schneider Electric’s Zero Carbon Project, over toward building the business case for sustainability, and high up into the issue of organizational leadership, with informative excursions into the challenges of measurement, the role of partnerships, and the meaning of COP26.

Most importantly, they take a realistic approach to ESG. Shekhter, for instance, insists on keeping it real when she asks: “How do you know that decarbonization is the right focus?” and Houot responds with full and informed candor. To hear the answer, and many other important points about ESG, click the link below.


  1. World’s Most Sustainable Corporation 2021. Read about how Schneider Electric earned this prestigious distinction.

  2. The Zero Carbon Project. Schneider Electric’s ambitious initiative supports 1,000 of their top suppliers in halving their operational carbon emissions by 2025.

  3. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 Goals are essential to any organization that’s serious about ESG.

  4. The Fight Against Climate Change Makes Good Business Sense. Houot’s blog post can help you make the case to your organization.

  5. The Schneider Supplier Portal. Explore the resources Schneider Electric offers to its suppliers.

  6. COP26 in Pictures. The Guardian provides you with a dramatic look at 2021’s most notable climate summit.

  7. ESG + CSR = Better Business + A Better World. Elaina Shekhter and Shamilka Samarasinha discuss how EPAM’s CSR initiatives have evolved into their current ESG program.

  8. The Resonance Test 66: Jennifer Howard-Grenville. The Diageo Professor of Organization Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School talks about taking a true measure of ESG.

Host: Alison Kotin
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 71: Xavier Houot
filed in: sustainability, complex systems

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