Timberland’s 2010 CSR Results and the Importance of Target Setting

It’s that time of year where people in my position are busy compiling year-end social and environmental performance which will eventually end up in our Corporate Social Responsibility report. Timberland has been reporting on our impacts since 2000, and we’re proud to share our accomplishments and how we got there. What’s equally as important is communicating our failure to meet certain targets, why that may have happened and what we’re doing about it. We call this balanced transparency – and it’s critical for building credibility as a responsible business.

Why would we publish targets that might be aspirational? As a public company, we strive to make responsible choices every day for our business, communities and the outdoors. We vet our targets internally with business units who are responsible for implementing programs to meet these goals, and also externally with issue experts, NGOs, and other stakeholders who push us to reduce our impact and improve the places we live and work. This process holds us to a higher standard. For example, we recently achieved a 38% GHG emissions reduction at the end of 2010 – a huge accomplishment by corporate standards. Sure, we didn’t meet our target last year – but we would never have reduced our footprint by as much as we did had we not set an extremely aggressive goal to in the first place.

And now we’re at it again… at the end of 2010, we collected data to see how we fared against other bold goals. Below, you can find a sampling of our year-end 2010 results, organized by Timberland’s four CSR “pillars,” which are also available for download at http://community.timberland.com/Corporate-Responsibility. By analyzing our current progress and challenges, we can now look to a longer-term horizon to consider new and different ways we will reduce our impact. For the last six months, we have been working on new targets that push us even further. We’ll publish these goals externally so that stakeholders can track our progress – look for our new CSR report late this summer!

2010 CSR Results

ENERGY:

  • As already noted, we achieved a 38% emissions reduction in 2010. This achievement is for our owned and operated footprint and employee air travel, over a 2006 baseline. Our recently released white paper gives all of the details.

PRODUCT:

  • Green Index® scores stayed relatively flat, which is an achievement because we scored a greater variety of products in 2010 (vs. mainly Earthkeeper product or “green” outdoor product in 2009), which included heavier leather styles that tend to score worse.  An increase in recycled content, our phase-out of PVC, and continued reduction in VOC consumption helped improve scores.
  • Of the cotton we purchased in 2010, 34% was organic. This is significantly higher than 2009 (18%), which is impressive given the sharp rise in the price of organic cotton and cotton as a whole.

WORKPLACES:

  • At the end of 2010, 32% of our suppliers had High Priority scores (compared to 32% at the end of 2009) primarily due to Wages and Working Hours issues. With the economic situation improving while labor shortages continued, working hours was a particularly challenging issue for many factories this year.  Our sourcing managers are increasing regular assessments of factories’ production capacities and making adjustments in orders (or securing additional suppliers).

SERVICE:

  • Timberland employees served a total of 75,859 hours in 2010, which represents an 8% decrease in hours served compared to 2009.  Continuing high demands on employees’ time at our manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic along with our distribution centers in the U.S. contributed to a significant decrease in hours served as compared to last year.
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