Powering sustainability through education and advocacy

CAYLA LI's Story

How Cayla spearheaded top-level advocacy  cross-functional collaboration  top-level advocacy & cross-functional collaboration at JA Solar

Cayla Li is the Head of the ESG Management and Sustainability Department & the member of Supervisory Board at JA Solar. Cayla advocates for sustainability at a strategic level and integrates ESG considerations into the business. Cayla is a strong believer of real, substantive sustainability practices that affect the core of the business, focusing on long-term benefits and ethical practices.

Founded in 2005, JA Solar is a manufacturer of high-performance photovoltaic products. With multiple manufacturing bases and 13 sales subsidiaries around the world, the company’s business covers silicon wafers, cells, modules and PV power stations.


Sector: Energy


Geography: Headquartered in China and operating globally Employees: 50,000+ globally


Website: www.jasolar.com


When Cayla Li joined JA Solar, she was driven by a desire to embed sustainability into the company’s very DNA.

Initially, she observed that sustainability within the company was viewed primarily as a marketing tool, rather than an integral part of JA Solar’s business strategy. Recognizing the untapped potential, Cayla faced the challenge of engaging both senior leadership and employees across various departments. She found that there was a significant knowledge gap regarding what sustainability truly meant, especially among employees not directly involved in sustainability initiatives.

She also found that she needed to advocate for stronger support within senior leadership to drive the right initiatives forward.


Determined to bridge the knowledge gap, Cayla launched large-scale visibility campaigns to help employees understand how ESG principles relate to their roles and how they could contribute to the company’s ESG journey.


These training sessions range from general introductions to ESG to more in-depth sessions on topics like anti-forced labor and supply chain due diligence.

To foster cross-functional collaboration, Cayla established and to this day leads a working group with members from various departments such as compliance, legal, HR, procurement, and engineering. This group is instrumental to formulate and oversee the implementation of JA Solar’s ESG strategy. They regularly integrate sustainability into department-specific roles and responsibilities, translating them into clear, measurable targets.


Cayla also focuses on top-level advocacy making sure the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) is part of the Executive and Management team. This move has facilitated the growth of the sustainability department and fostered external partnerships.

of impact

Even though the role of Chief Sustainability Officer is relatively new in China and the ESG department is still emerging, Cayla and her team’s initiatives have made a significant impact within JA Solar and beyond. The training sessions have upskilled many people, boosting employee motivation and creativity.
Departments have begun including and reporting on sustainability in their annual targets.


The cross-department working group has significantly increased cooperation within JA Solar, establishing stronger trust relationships with key external stakeholders, including investors, customers, and community relations. This collaboration has been crucial in jointly promoting the ESG agenda and ensuring consistency with the overall corporate strategy.

Cayla’s advocacy efforts have also led to stronger buy-in from top management. The CFO now includes sustainability-related KPIs for accountability, and CEO support increased as tangible results started to show. Notable achievements include a significant rise in ESG ratings, outperforming peers on Sustainalytics, receiving the Good ESG Practice Award in 2023, and succeeding in the Carbon Disclosure Project.


Cayla also encourages her peers by sharing insights on JA Solar’s implementation of environmental KPIs and revenue growth through ESG integration. She shares these successes at prestigious platforms like Harvard University, demonstrating how embedding ESG into the company can drive substantial benefits.

Through her relentless dedication and passion, Cayla Li has transformed everyday conversations into sustainable actions at JA Solar, creating a lasting impact that resonates within the company and beyond.

What Cayla found helpful during her ESG journey

WBCSD was instrumental in choosing a CSO for JA Solar, the chosen CSO is very ambitious and connects with CEO well to create support from the entire MT. Additionally, WBCSD membership projects the ESG work externally, helping in conversations with clients about how JA Solar is developing.