Women’s History Month: Lubrizol’s Elizabeth Grove on sustainability, innovation and women in STEM 

 “This is for girls.”

Elizabeth Grove has spent her career in male-dominated fields – first as a litigator, and today in the chemical industry as Chief Sustainability Officer at The Lubrizol Corporation – but has never let gender be a barrier to success. 

“It’s definitely a difference. But you can leverage that to be an advantage for you,” says Grove, who has been with Lubrizol since 2007, working in sustainability since 2016.   

As Chief Sustainability Officer, she is accountable for propelling the company’s global focus on sustainability, including ESG and community engagement. Prior to joining Lubrizol as Chief Litigation Counsel, she was a trial attorney at the FTC, and a litigation attorney with Jones Day.  

GCP recently caught up with Grove to discuss sustainability and innovation, women in STEM and the potential for sustainability to change the world – and the face of corporations. 

Your background is as a litigator. How did you get into the sustainability field? 

I came to Lubrizol in 2007. I was in the legal division for seven years and moved into our life sciences business in 2015.  

Many of our customers in life sciences are the world’s major consumer-facing companies, and they were very interested in sustainability. We realized we needed to start paying attention.  

I started working on sustainability in life sciences, and we decided we needed to create a corporate sustainability team. In 2020, I came back to the corporate team to lead corporate sustainability.  

How has sustainability at Lubrizol evolved since then?  

A lot has changed — people are starting to settle on what the key metrics of sustainability are and what we need to be measuring. 

We’re getting a lot more focused on what matters, and what you need to measure — like understanding your corporate footprint, decarbonization, understanding your potential impact on climate change and the environment.  What we do is becoming more focused and there’s more common language around it. 

Before, sustainability could be a lot of different things. Now it has pretty clear standards and guidelines. And how do you demonstrate progress? The tools for measuring and marketing that have gotten a lot sharper. 

Is it becoming less about just compliance and more about innovation?  

Yes, especially for us, because we don’t make widgets, we make chemistry that goes into things … look at the ingredients in your shampoo or the ingredients in your hand gel, and you will see our products in there. 

We also make products that go into engine oil additives and fuel additives. For us, it’s about doing the right thing to reduce our footprint, and how we can create chemistry that actually has a decarbonizing effect in use. It is very much about innovation for us. 

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This March at GCP we are focusing on Women’s History Month. I wonder, because sustainability is a relatively new field, is it an area where there is more opportunity for women and other under-represented groups in corporations? 

Yes, I think so. Sustainability leadership roles can come from all different areas of a company. They come from legal. They come from operations, they might come from R&D and innovation, or marketing communications. So there is a wide variety of opportunities. I also happen to think that sustainability, especially for companies, requires so much collaboration. You need to pull people from all different functions into your group. And I have to say, I think women are inherently good at that. We are collaborators, we are builders. 

The opportunities in sustainability are opening a lot of doors. 

Did you ever feel in your career that you were at a disadvantage or there were barriers you faced that male colleagues might not?  

More in law than in corporate life. There have been times when being a smaller statured female and a litigator, I surprised a few people. Sometimes I felt like the statue of the girl standing outside the stock exchange [“Fearless Girl” by Kristen Visbal]. 

In corporate life, barriers haven’t been so much gender-based, but more people understanding what sustainability means and realizing that it’s necessary to move forward. This is a business imperative. 

I think there are times when being a woman in that kind of a role is actually an advantage, because you do stick out sometimes. It’s definitely a difference. But you can leverage that to be an advantage for you.  

You, Lubrizol CEO Rebecca Liebert and other women from Lubrizol recently attended an International Women’s Day even hosted by German chemical company BASF. What was that like, in an industry (chemistry) that is only 26 % women?  

It was really good. It gave us a chance to meet lots of other women in the chemical industry. They did a panel discussion with CEOs and senior leaders from several of the chemical companies, talking about women’s leadership and women’s development, and how we support each other. 

It was a great opportunity to hear from leaders in our industry.  I have to say that the prevailing view was that, rather than thinking of gender as a disadvantage, think of it as difference and then how do you turn that into a positive? 

Does Lubrizol have initiatives to try to bring more women into STEM? 

Yes, we do grants to fund STEM programs for everything from middle school girls to women and diverse candidates in STEM.  

We also made a grant to Cleveland State University to help restart its Masters in Diversity and Change Management program.  We do have a focus on bringing more women into leadership. We recognize that’s an imperative for us as a chemistry company to see if we can bring along the next generation of women to see the beauty and the art that is part of chemistry. 

We’re doing all we can do to communicate to women that ”this is for girls,” that chemistry  is a very cool career that you should be pursuing. 

Is there anything you are particularly proud of regarding Lubrizol’s sustainability initiatives? 

We’re doing all the right things from a footprint standpoint. We’re trending toward our goals. I think the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we have recognized as an organization that our largest impact is ‘increasing our handprint’ – formulating our chemistry in a way that it helps our customers decarbonize and helps them to be more sustainable. 

When someone is using a product that has a Lubrizol ingredient, our products are decarbonizing and making the world better. That is the kind of innovation we are focused on. We are fortunate to be in the chemistry space because that space can do so much to impact climate change and to have a positive impact on the world. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, Greater Cleveland Partnership is spotlighting Women-owned businesses, leaders, changemakers and events throughout March on our blog, website and social channels. We’d love your input. Email suggestions to 

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business and Inclusive Opportunity. 


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