What's a stock exchange? Easy: It's a venue where equities in publicly held companies are traded, right?
Right -- and wrong. NYSE Euronext, the company once known as the New York Stock Exchange, is much more. It's a technology company, a data center, a derivatives clearing center, and a majority owner in an energy market, among other functions.
Oh, and it's a socially responsible multinational company, too, as it harnesses the "value of community" of leading companies from around the globe, as Michelle Greene puts it.
That role isn't likely to change as the exchange operator explores the pros -- and recently cons -- of its current merger opportunity with Deutsche Börse AG, no matter the outcome.
Since Greene came on board just over a year ago as vice president and head of corporate responsibility, the company has been formalizing its role as a global business sustainability leader -- into four internal and four external functions.
Why now? "At a time when companies around the world are focusing on responsibility and sustainability, the NYSE Euronext can be a sort of role model and convener," Greene says of the company's thinking, as it seeks to "lead by example" through its own actions.
Her job building the sustainability initiative has been a two-pronged effort, Greene says, focusing her attention on the exchange's internal and external roles.
Internally there have been four main functions:
1. Identifying opportunities for initiatives on corporate responsibility (CR) and helping to launch and lead them.
2. Acting as a sounding board and advisor to internal staff on CR-related issues.
3. Working to ensure that everyone throughout the company knows what corporate social responsibility is and what might be done to act sustainably, so as to "help people think through that lens about everything they do," she says.
4. Tracking and reporting sustainability results throughout the company, primarily in its CR report.
Greene notes that NYSE Euronext recently became the first global exchange operator to become carbon neutral.