Archive for January, 2012

Timberland’s Quarterly CSR Performance

In December, Timberland announced its CSR performance results for Q3 of 2011.  Highlights from this quarter’s performance are as follows, organized by Timberland’s four CSR pillars of climate, product, factories, and service:

Climate:
Greenhouse Gas emissions
increased by 13% compared to Q3 2010. This change is primarily due to increases in air travel as our business rebounds, and related to efforts to integrate our business with VF Corp (VF acquired Timberland in September 2011). With forecasted business growth this year, we are targeting static emissions for our owned and operated facilities (and employee air travel) as compared with our year end 2010 result.

Product:
Helping to drive reduced environmental impact of our products is a continued focus on chemicals management in manufacturing.  In Q3 2011, our global average grams/ pair of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in footwear production was 59.0. We continue efforts to reduce VOC consumption by substituting high-VOC containing chemicals or reducing their use altogether if a substitute is not readily available.  We are also continuing to prioritize the use of environmentally-preferred materials in our products. In Q3 2011, 16.4% of materials in our apparel production were recycled, organic, or renewable (ROR).

Factories:
In Q3 2011, no factories that Timberland sourced from received a “High Risk” rating.  33% of our suppliers had High Priority scores in Q3 2011, which is relatively the same as our Q2 2011 results.  Controlling working hours and effective wage calculation/payment processes were issues for 100% of the High Priority scores in Q3, and our sourcing managers are working closely with these suppliers to ensure that orders are not beyond realistic production capacity of the factories.

Service:
As of the end of Q3 2011, Timberland employees served a total of 78,241 hours (year to date) in their communities. The Hours Utilization Rate (HUR – the percentage of employee service hours used compared to total available according to the Path of ServiceTM program) year to date at the end of Q3 2011 was 36%, which is an improvement when compared to our Q3 2010 result of 28% HUR.

Additional Q3 2011 performance data and analysis can be found on the Goals & Progress section of Timberland’s CSR website.

Winter in New England: Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes.

Hopefully you were like me and had a wonderful holidays and a happy New Year’s. With kids who now can understand the concept of presents, a heavy-set man in a red suit and reindeer, this year was busier than ever. We spent our holiday time in Southern Vermont aka Ski Town Central, where everything centers around skiing or snowboarding with a healthy dose of maple syrup. Unfortunately, Mother Nature reminded us how fickle she can be. We experienced 20 degree temperature swings on a daily basis, which results in snow (25°F) then no snow (45°F) then harsh wind (9°F) then rain (35°F). It truly was like that old New England adage, “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes.”

Of course, my entire family was bummed with the lack of snow, but made the most of it. The bigger, scarier concern was the impact these fluctuating temperatures had on local snow-related businesses. The region is still recovering from the impact of Tropical Storm Irene which brought torrential floods. Across the entire country, ski resorts and snow towns are all crying “Uncle” with the lack of snow. It really hit home when people decide to go golfing at the local links rather than traveling to the ski hill. On my personal tally, I noticed that I had double or triple the number of days surfing as I did snowboarding so far this season.

Backcountry.com posted this picture that shows the difference in weather patterns between January 2011 and January 2012. It’s pretty eye-opening. The only silver lining that I can see from this sad situation is that I overheard more than one conversation in Ski Town Central about how “global warming is really real.” It appears that these rapidly fluctuating temperatures, which impacted holiday spirit, recreational fun and the economy opened a few eyes to some of our very real climate concerns.

From our family’s perspective, the snow conditions may have been horrid, but it was our daughter’s first time on a snowboard so she didn’t mind the fluctuating temperature as long as there was a little patch of white and hot cocoa at the end of the day.

Free Music Friday: Emily Elbert

Peace, love and positivity — those are the messages Emily Elbert tries to convey through her music. And at just 22 years old, this Berklee College of Music senior has already had plenty of opportunity to spread her good words, in concerts throughout the US and across the globe.

Eco-conscious could be another message from this Texas native, whose environmentally-friendly actions include carpooling, using recycled and recyclable goods and eating local-grown foods whenever she can.

Emily is talented, adorable and passionate about the environment … and she’s our artist of the month for January. Watch her video, and then visit our music page to download her song “To Stay Alive in the World” (it’s free!).

A Tour of Timberland Canada’s New Uber Green HQ

A few months ago, after spending some time at the Toronto International Film Festival, I had the privilege of visiting Timberland Canada’s Headquarters at the Evergreen Brick Works campus, a community environmental center that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably. Evergreen, a national charity, transformed the former Don Valley Brick Works from a collection of deteriorating buildings into an international showcase for urban sustainability and green design.

Josh, Timberland Canada marketer and tour guide extraordinaire, showed me around, pointing out features that make this campus the epitome of sustainable building and design. LEED® Platinum Certified, the center is expected to reduce energy consumption by more than 50 percent. While that alone is impressive, I was really blown away by the innovative eco-conscious features we found around every corner. A few of my favorites:

  • The Evergreen Brick Works building was constructed on top of the foundation from the former Don Valley Brick works – they even left the old graffiti on the bricks!
  • There’s a garden center filled with local produce on site, with proceeds going to fund Evergreen’s efforts.
  • Solar Chimneys help remove hot air from the building and reduce the need for air conditioning.
  • Large rainwater harvesting cisterns collect rainwater from the rooftops and reuse it in the campus’ toilets and garden.
  • The parking lot’s concrete is pervious, which allows water to go back into the ground and maintain a natural cycle.
  • The LED parking lot lights are specially designed to direct light downward, keeping the sky naturally dark for bats, insects and other animals.

You can learn more about Evergreen Brick Works, and even take your own tour, at http://ebw.evergreen.ca/ .

The Evolution of CSR Reporting

Sustainability reporting is increasing at a fast pace here in the United States. Since the Global Reporting Initiative was launched in 1997, the number of reporting organizations in our country has increased tenfold. It’s true that multi-nationals reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in the U.S. lag behind our global counterparts. However, it’s encouraging to see an increase in reporting uptake – not just because this allows stakeholders to better understand corporate impacts, but also because reporting in its best form should be a tool that aids strategy development, target setting, and business management.

Since the early days when standards were first created to guide corporations’ communication of ESG impacts and issues, the details, mediums, and audiences for sustainability reports have changed. What started out as backward-looking accountability statements primarily covering environmental impacts and corporate philanthropy has evolved into robust corporate evaluations of material impacts – which are now vetted through stakeholder bodies and include a balanced account of progress, challenges, and forward-looking and aspirational targets (in their best form).

Timberland has been experimenting with different mediums for some time. We issued our first CSR report back in 2000 – a short, printed document focused on community service, employee engagement, and overview information about our social and environmental programs. Fast forward to 2007 when we released our 2006 CSR report – our last annual, printed “accountability statement.” In today’s era of increasing information and stakeholder requests, I’m often asked “who’s reading these reports, and what are they accomplishing?”  One could argue that our 19-page report in 2000 was accessible, easy to understand, and inclusive of many stakeholder interests (although light on data by today’s standards). By comparison, our 2006 report (which was 180 pages long and won several awards for best-in-class disclosure) was full of possibly too much information for different audiences to easily access what they had specific interest in.

There’s continued debate about whether or not a single sustainability report can satisfy the needs of multiple stakeholders – that is, employees, NGOs, issue experts, critics, partners, peer companies, investors, analysts, consumers, communities, workers, media, governments … the list goes on!  Different stakeholders have different interests in EGS data, programs, and strategies.  Being accountable to all of these stakeholders requires engagement, partnership, and dialogue – much more than simply producing a report. Yet the reporting process can inform these audiences, and I encourage companies to start by determining which groups are core to their business success. Target your reporting approach for these key groups, and ensure others can easily find information so they aren’t left out.

So how does a company balance the need for more information, while also maintaining credibility and relevance? At Timberland, we’ve continued our experimentation with different reporting formats. Our evolving reporting and communication approach reflects an evolving and improved sustainability strategy for managing risk, creating value and increasing consumer relevance – components that are necessary for our entire business model to succeed.

Whether you are a first time reporter or have been at it for years, here are my top 5 tips for effectively leveraging reporting as a management and communication tool:

  1. Ensure your report reflects material impacts – GRI advises that “the information in a report should cover topics and indicators that reflect the organization’s significant economic, environmental, and social impacts, or that would substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.”  A credible report should cover such impacts, and by engaging stakeholders in a materiality assessment process, you can prioritize resources and reporting topics. Ford Motor Company has been producing an excellent Materiality Matrix for years.
  2. Consider different stakeholders’ entry points and interests – different stakeholder groups read reports for different reasons. A detailed data set may appeal to a socially responsible investor, whereas a story about your program in action could be more relevant to an issue expert looking to understand supply chain management practices. Timberland issued our 2007-8 CSR report as a “suite” of communication tools – including a summary report (only 30 pages!), detailed “Dig Deeper” papers for those looking for more details, an online forum to engage stakeholders in dialogue on key issues, and a consumer-facing brochure.
  3. Tell the good and the bad – In today’s globalized society, if you’re not telling your own story in a truthful, credible, and engaging manner, others will simply tell it for you – and sometimes inaccurately! And yes, even if you are the most transparent company in the world, this still happens. But being open, honest and engaging can put you ahead of the curve when it comes to stakeholder engagement, campaigns, and trust-building. Dell has an open report, including discussion of tough issues like eliminating hazardous chemicals.
  4. Make it engaging – which will help attract different types of stakeholders, too. Timberland’s new Responsibility website aims to do just that. The site is much more than a report; it’s a comprehensive and interactive hub for all information about Timberland’s social and environmental activities. Viewers can read Featured Stories about topics such as our sustainable store design, work with tanneries to reduce their environmental impacts, efforts to empower factory workers, and community greening. It’s important to consider the best ways to reach targeted stakeholder audiences – as a footwear company, consumers are key and that’s why these stories are written in a news-editorial style and linked to CSR Stakeholder Calls, Voices of Challenge dialogue, blog and social media.
  5. A report is not the means to an end – Use the reporting process to build increased accountability for sustainability issues within your organization. Reporting efforts should be aimed at both internal and external audiences. And don’t forget to engage and share results with your own business units and internal leaders. It’s critical to build buy-in and ownership of ESG issues in order to successfully integrate sustainability into your business model.

This post also currently appears on the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship blog.  Thank you, BCCCC, for sharing content with us!

The Best Year Starts with Good Intentions

A fresh start always feels good, and our Bootmaker bloggers are feeling especially positive about turning the page and starting a new year.  Here’s what’s topping their list of resolutions for 2012:

I’m going to slow down and take time for things that really matter, and stop making myself crazy by weighing all of the possible options for minute questions!  – Beth

My resolution is to introduce my nephews to the National Parks.  – Betsy

I will no longer waste my time reliving the past; instead I will concentrate on the exciting potential of the future.  – Alyssa

Consume less.  Both from a food standpoint and a products standpoint.  -  Frank

To pay off my credit card – and not run it right back up!!  – Laura

I’m enrolling in graduate classes and resolve to put in the effort and dedication to complete my coursework successfully—while still allowing myself time to relax and enjoy friends and family.  (And I wouldn’t be doing my duty as a member of the Community Engagement team without also resolving to make Timberland’s 2012 service events the best yet!)  – Sarah

In 2012 I will read more books.  I’m an online junkie, but I have a stack of books I’ve wanted to read for a while.  - Adriana

Studies show that if you tell someone else what your resolution is, you’re more likely to stick to it.  Want to commit?  Share yours with us!