Anu Piduru has been passionate about the environment for as long as she can remember.
“From a young age, I was always interested in it. I grew up spending a lot of time outside, and my dad would teach us about recycling, litter clean-ups, and the importance of sustainability. That really shaped my path through college as I pursued an environmental engineering degree and then the environmental roles I took on after that,” says Piduru, who is now senior director of sustainability at Carter’s. “And with it taking more of a center stage these days in terms of interest and its impact on our daily lives, it makes me feel like I made the right choice.”
As senior director, she spearheads the company’s ambitious sustainability initiatives, creates strategies to reach its climate goals, and tells the company’s story through environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) reporting. Piduru leads in an often politically polarized sector filled with different viewpoints and perspectives; she says success requires educating, collaborating, and “sticking to what you know.”
“Everyone is in a different place in this journey, and sometimes that means you get hit with roadblocks and people who don’t see this work as a priority,” she says. “But it’s important not to allow people or concepts to be dismissed because they’re new, different, don’t make sense on the surface, or seem too political. Ground yourself in the data, the story, and the meaning of what you’re doing because it can show exactly where you’ve been, where you’re going, and why you need to head that way.”
That wisdom fuels Piduru and her team as they aim to reduce scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 (compared to 2019) and to achieve net-zero emissions in scope one and two by 2040. For the last few years, the company has published a calculated emissions inventory to update stakeholders on its progress while relying on investments in technology and energy management to help the company decarbonize further.
On the product side, her team’s biggest target is to achieve a 100 percent sustainable cotton and polyester fibers goal by 2030. The primary way the company will achieve that goal is through its participation with the Better Cotton Initiative. The plan is to have sustainable cotton from that program account for about half of Carter’s cotton usage by 2026 and evaluate other sources of cotton to account for the other 50 percent.
“For now, we’re taking it step by step,” she says. “We’re taking a look at things in our control like implementing standards to the way we work and operate that can contribute to energy reduction and drive energy efficiency.”
Beyond helping the company achieve these goals through collaborating across departments, Piduru focuses on helping other stakeholders understand their role in Carter’s sustainability strategies.
“It’s part of the challenge people in this field face every day,” she says. “Because, again, everyone, every company, is on their own step in this journey, and part of the job requires influence and teaching and helping others understand the meaning behind what we’re doing. Ultimately, we not only want to reduce our impact on the environment but create profit for ourselves.
“Our job is to work with management teams, other leaders, and everyone across the value chain to bring them along on the journey,” she continues. “It’s helping them understand how we can be more circular in how we manufacture our goods and design our products while also saving money and increasing revenue. Building out road maps and strategies is a way to do that. Building relationships and trust is another important part of that.”
Piduru began her career working in the airlines and aviation industry, serving as an environmental consultant at AECOM, general manager at Delta Air Lines, and more. Those experiences exposed her to different kinds of customers and clients, interactions that instilled in her the values of hard work, staying up to speed in a rapidly changing industry, and building relationships.
“This is an area that requires multidivisional, multicompany, cross-industrial collaboration, and the more connections you have, the better suited you will be for a career in this field,” Piduru says.
She brought those lessons to Carter’s in January 2023, where she’s proud to be part of a team shaping the company’s climate, waste reduction, and ESG reporting efforts.
Young professionals who want to succeed in Piduru’s field should start by honing their communication skills.
“You need to be able to build relationships and understand what it means to work collaboratively. Certain fields we study in college more naturally set you up for that, but those are skills that can also be learned along the way,” she advises. “ESG brings together so many topics, subjects, and initiatives across a company, so you need to be a team player and communicate effectively.”
Indiblu is honored to continue partnering with Anu Piduru as she brings her passion for creating a better world to Carter’s. While Indiblu loves winning awards for ESG report design, we love working with exceptional leaders like Anu even more. Indiblu specializes in showcasing how companies deliver on sustainability with on-brand design, engaging infographics, and interactive reports. Our reports and microsites help organizations achieve compliance and transparency within the ever-changing industry of sustainability.