Posts Tagged ‘corporate responsibility’

Transforming Wasteland to Wonderful Garden in China

Our supplier sustainability team shared the following update from Zhu Hai Lian Feng, a knitwear factory located in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China. Zhu Hai Lian Feng has been a Timberland partner since 2008.

Two years ago, factory management decided to create an eco-garden in the barren land surrounding the factory.  After 6 months of hard work, their vision was realized, and a beautiful, relaxing and bountiful garden was completed.

The Zhu Hai Lian Feng eco-garden is home to many fruits and vegetables, including papaw, dragon fruit, leechee, mangoes, tomatoes and lettuce.  The garden is harvested by factory employees, and the fruits and vegetables go directly to the factory’s canteen.  There’s nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables grown on site!

Zhu Hai Lian Feng also constructed two pavilions in the eco-garden, which are frequently used by employees for parties, catching up with friends and simply relaxing.

To learn more about Timberland partners like Zhu Hai Lian Feng and how they’re working to improve their workplaces with projects like the eco-garden, please visit our Responsibility website.

Clean Drinking Water in Vietnam

According to reports from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, every year 3.6 million people die of water-related diseases.  Access to clean drinking water is one of the basic needs we work to ensure all workers in our supply chain have.

During an assessment of factories in and around Hanoi, Vietnam, our Supplier Sustainability Team discovered that clean drinking water was the #1 concern among workers at the Stella Group’s Golden Star factories in Hai Phong City, Vietnam (a port city located about 60 miles east of Hanoi).  Although the water within the factory itself was clean, we learned that the community where many of the Golden Star workers live is far away, and far more rural: Residents there have to rely on groundwater and rainwater for drinking and domestic use, with little (if any) filtration.

When Timberland learns that access to clean drinking water is an issue in workers’ communities, we call on our partnership with Planet Water Foundation to help meet the need. Planet Water Foundation is a U.S.-based, nonprofit organization that strives to bring clean water to the world’s most disadvantaged communities through the installation of water filtration systems and education on how to use them.

In Vietnam, Timberland’s Supplier Sustainability Team worked with Planet Water Foundation, the factory and the local community to determine the best location for two clean drinking water towers.  The final selections were on the grounds of two kindergartens, where the highest number of community members would have access.  The towers were constructed in July 2012.

One advantage of the Planet Water filtration system is that the system doesn’t require any consumables. The filters only require nominal daily maintenance checks by school staff, and can last seven to ten years. When needed, the filters can be replaced for a modest cost. In addition, Planet Water guarantees each installation and returns to the project site every three months for five years after the installation to ensure that the system is operating correctly.

While the primary benefit of the water towers is better health through clean drinking water, there’s a business case for brands and factories to provide a sustainable living environment for workers — as well as a humanitarian one. After all, when employees miss work because they’re ill—or have to stay home to care for sick family members—productivity suffers.

Golden Star Factory manager Doan Anh Tuan sums it up by saying, “This project has affected our everyday lives—not just at the factory but into our communities and schools. We’ll be feeling its impact for generations.”

CSR Stakeholder Call Summary: June 11th Scaling Sustainable Change Dialogue

Earlier this week, Timberland hosted a CSR Stakeholder Call about how to scale local community engagement efforts. Timberland’s VP of CSR Mark Newton was joined by Chuck Bennett, VP of Earth & Community Care at Aveda for a stimulating discussion about employee engagement, extending volunteerism up and down the supply chain, and how to scale efforts through collaboration and partnership.

Corporate community engagement

Did you know that 2012 is the 20th Anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service™ program?  Path of Service is our employee volunteer program, which provides Timberland staff up to 40 paid hours for community service.  When the program was started, the idea of giving employees paid time off to perform community service was unconventional. Through this program Timberland offers our most valuable resource – our employees’ time – to engage in the communities where we live and work.

What was unique in 1992 is not so today; many companies now offer similar programs, and we’re fortunate to be informed and inspired by many of them – including Aveda, whose employee engagement program was outlined on this week’s call.

What’s the value of these community engagement efforts? We know our commitment to community engagement helps us retain employees and contributes to a healthy corporate culture. In our last global employee survey, 67% of employees reported that our Path of Service™ program plays a strong role in their decision to work at Timberland.

Extending up and down the supply chain

Just as we’ve seen increased employee development, attraction and retention inside our own company, we have encouraged and supported factories that produce our products to serve their local communities as well. See Timberland’s Responsibility site for examples of this engagement in factories in China.

We also have opportunity to engage business partners in service. By inviting others to join with us, we inevitably increase our impact. In fact, in 2011, 40% of the volunteers at Timberland-sponsored service events worldwide were business partners, and we hope to increase that percentage in 2012.  Whether we’re working together to transform a school, build community gardens, or plant trees, we know that the bonds formed through service are more powerful than simply taking a customer out to dinner. Some of these organizations have even formed their own community engagement programs!

Consumer engagement

On the call, both Timberland and Aveda discussed opportunities to extend their community engagement efforts to their consumers and retail partners. For Timberland, our 20th anniversary of Path of Service™ presents a unique opportunity to invite these important stakeholders to join us. Timberland Taiwan is leading the way (with over 3,000 hours served by consumers and employees to date!), and we aim for other regions to also engage their consumers this year.

We were inspired to learn more about Aveda’s Serve from the Heart program, whereby Aveda provides grants to retail stores to invest in their local community organizations of their choosing – and store employees are also encouraged to volunteer. And there’s no doubt that Aveda’s Earth Month campaign is having a profound impact: in 2011, the company exceeded its goal of raising $4 million for global and clean water projects.

The importance of collaboration and partnership

Clearly, neither Timberland nor Aveda could successfully engage these local communities without their employees, business partners, consumers, and local community members. For Timberland, we’re always willing to share our experience – organizations looking to run their own service events might find some helpful tips in our Community Service Toolkit.

If you missed this week’s call and want to hear more, you can listen to the entire podcast here.  Learn more about Timberland’s community engagement efforts and stay tuned for opportunities to continue the conversation at http://responsibility.timberland.com.

Tune In: Timberland and Aveda Talk about Scaling Sustainable Change

Since 2008, Timberland has hosted regular calls with a diverse set of stakeholders to support our long-term corporate CSR strategy. This level of transparency and accountability helps Timberland elevate dialogue on material issues for our industry, while also giving us critical feedback to become a more sustainable organization.

Our next call:

Scaling Sustainable Change
Monday, June 11 from 11 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

Timberland’s VP of CSR Mark Newton and Aveda’s VP of Earth and Community Care Chuck Bennett will discuss how to build a more sustainable society by scaling environmental awareness and local community engagement through partnerships with employees, suppliers, customers, and peer companies.

Please register for the event by emailing csrinfo@timberland.com. You’ll receive a response within 24 hours that confirms successful registration.

Be sure to pre-register by June 8 to receive the call-in details! These materials will be sent on Friday June 8.

The results of this and other calls are posted online.  Timberland’s Responsibility portal will also be an online stakeholder engagement platform to continue discussion after the call.

Sharing Traditions (and Garden Tools) With Our VF Family

Last month, Timberland celebrated our first Earth Day as a member of the VF Corporation family.  We’re proud to  share our 20-year tradition of community service with the other VF Brands, and were excited for the opportunity to share our first Earth Day service event with hundreds of volunteers from our new “sister brands” JanSport, lucy and The North Face.

Sharing our commitment to service is important to us – and so is the impact that it creates in communities and for the organizations we serve.  Look at the good work our Earth Day team of volunteers did to benefit the Alameda Point Collaborative in California:

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Timberland’s Path of Service program, which gives our employees paid time off to serve in the community.  You can learn more about the program on our Responsibility website.  To learn more about our Earth Day efforts, check out our previous posts.

Strengthening Relationships Through Service

As a values-driven company, Timberland is always looking for ways to walk the walk as we talk the talk. It’s not always easy. When it comes to community service, we often face questions from employees about how to take time out of the office to serve while staying on top of their job responsibilities. How do you show employees that when they serve, it isn’t just good for the community but in fact also good for the business?

That’s the task at hand for Rob Rizzotti, Director of National Accounts for Timberland’s U.S. Field Sales Team, a group of fifty-plus field-based sales reps. In his role as a Global Steward, Rob works to inform, inspire and engage the sales team by sharing our CSR programs and values. Chief among these values is creating positive and sustainable impact by serving in our communities.

Rizzotti recognizes that the sales team has unique opportunities to engage customers, whether they’re large national retailers or small independent retailers.

Service strengthens relationships with retailers and business partners in a way that taking them out to lunch doesn’t. You see a different side of people when you’re rolling up your sleeves and working for a common cause.

- Rob Rizzotti

Timberland’s sales teams have developed their own memorable and meaningful traditions of service over the years. Every September 11th, a Timberland sales team serves at a school in the Bronx, commemorating the same day in 2001 when they first served at a school in that community — before knowing the historic events that would unfold.

Rizzotti staunchly believes relationships are the core of his team’s business. “When you’re serving with an account, it makes a huge difference in building trust and a deeper relationship,” he says. “As a sales rep, when you do something like this, it shows what you’re made of—that you’re a person with a heart, you want to give back, and you want your business to honor that as well.”

At Timberland, we’re optimistic that this type of interaction will continue to create different conversations and new partnership opportunities – and that’s simply good business. To learn more about the ways in which we engage citizens, employees and consumers around the world through community service, visit our Responsibility website.

Three Reasons Why We Love Earth Day

What’s to love about a day of community service in honor of Earth Day?

#1.  POWER TOOLS

#2. PAINT

#3.  WHEELBARROWS

We also love mulch, rakes, hammers and all sorts of other toys of the great outdoors we don’t get to play with during the course of a normal business day.

Timberland volunteers were not the only ones to get out and celebrate Earth Day this week – it looks like our West Coast colleagues at The North Face, lucy and JanSport had a great day doing good work, too:

Yes, it was a lot of fun – and incredibly meaningful for the local community and environmental organizations who benefited from our efforts.  Thanks to the Timberland and VF volunteers who took time out this week to make a difference in their world; the sore muscles and sunburned arms were well worth it.

Evaluating our Code of Conduct Program

Timberland prides itself on a long-standing Code of Conduct program. Over the years, we’ve shifted our work in factories to expand beyond basic compliance, trained our assessment team to incorporate workers’ voices, and helped factory management build better management systems.  We include environmental and social/labor conditions in our assessments, and go beyond factory walls to assess whether workers are able to meet their basic needs. We rely on partnerships with stakeholder groups and standards bodies to vet our approach against best-in-class training programs, processes for corrective action plans, and mechanisms for worker empowerment. We don’t have all the answers, but we know that giving workers a voice is critical for leveraging our business to create improved working conditions and quality of life.

So, how are we doing?

In 2010, Timberland commissioned Social Accountability International (SAI) to review whether our Code of Conduct program is implemented in the field as designed. SAI is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to advance the rights of workers around the world. As a Corporate Member of SAI, we share their mission to improve working conditions in our or supply chain in accordance with relevant ILO conventions and national law. We asked SAI to validate our program’s capability of achieving our objectives, including a review of our team’s necessary skills to be effective.

SAI’s comprehensive assessment concluded that there are key areas of our Code of Conduct program that are working well, producing positive results and even “best practice.”  SAI also uncovered a number of areas for improvement and opportunities for us to mitigate potential risks and improve the impact of our Code of Conduct program.  You can read more about SAI’s detailed findings and recommendations on the Responsibility section of our website.

Overall, the Timberland Code of Conduct program is extremely sophisticated in its design and places Timberland among the leaders in the field.

- Craig Moss, project lead and SAI’s Director of Corporate Programs and Training

SAI’s thoroughness enabled this process to truly validate our program’s capability and effectiveness.  We look forward to continued partnership with SAI as we continue to work to create real improvements in our supply chain.

Ensuring that the thousands of people worldwide who make our products have fair and safe workplaces is part of our commitment to running a responsible business.  To learn more about our Code of Conduct program, visit the Responsibility section of our website.

Tune In: Timberland and IKEA Talk Responsible Business

We’re committed to the values of transparency and accountability. Part of that commitment is an ongoing dialogue with our stakeholders that serves to constantly challenge us to find better, more efficient means of building our products in a way that is less bad and hopefully, some day, more good for the environment.

Our Chief Executive Earthkeeper (and our CEO), Jeff Swartz, hosts regular stakeholder engagement calls to inform, inspire, and engage others about Timberland’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Stakeholder engagement calls allow Jeff to answer various questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Timberland policies and actions and they allow us to carry on our stakeholder dialogue in a public forum. Past calls have covered topics such as corporate climate strategy, responsible sourcing, eco-labeling, community greening, and the current state of corporate social responsibility.

Our next call:

Reducing Environmental Impact & Driving Bottom Line Results
May 24, 2011 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm ET

Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz and IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard will discuss opportunities for driving business growth while simultaneously achieving environmental goals.  This call will include discussion about how carbon emissions reductions can fuel cost savings and financial gains.

Please register for the event by emailing csrinfo@timberland.com.  You’ll receive a response within 24 hours that confirms successful registration.

To listen to podcasts of previous stakeholder engagement calls, visit the Corporate Responsibility section of our website.

Morality v. Technology? Don’t Make Me Ditch My iPhone …

Why is it that the world’s coolest brand sees a choice between delivering new culture changing products and delivering them … sustainably? How does Apple get away with such a limited imagination in this day and age?

CEOs of publicly-traded companies in the fashion industry don’t get the “pass” that comes to the super cool Apple leaders and their uber cool company.  Meaning, my shareholders and my consumers insist that we create profit, quarter by quarter, and that we do it … in a sustainable fashion, both in terms of environmental practice, and in terms of transparency and safe working conditions in the supply chain.  Why does a boot maker get held to a higher standard than an iPad maker?

Is it because consumers of iPads and iPhones and iMacs don’t care about how their products are made, about how much energy was used, what chemicals were involved, what impact on the environment the manufacturing process wreaks, or whether the rapidly churned products will end up being recycled or in a landfill at the end of their usable life?  I doubt it.  The elite technology adopters who “wear” their Apple products like a badge of hipster coolness seem to me like the very center of the “moral capitalism” consumer universe—hanging at Davos, orating at TED, elbow rubbing at SXSW.  As a wannabe cool guy, I sit here with my headphones on, listening to my iPod and working on my iPad, wanting to feel as cutting-edge as the technology at my command … but instead, I feel a little sick.  Because a brand that’s seen as a world leader is, in this case, failing to lead.

Apple refuses to set targets for reducing its carbon emissions.  Despite Chinese factory workers falling seriously ill after being exposed to a toxic chemical while manufacturing Apple products, the company remains tight-lipped about its supply chain – presumably prescribing to the belief that that supply chain secrecy is key to competitiveness.  It’s an argument that sounds vaguely familiar: in the last decade, some in the fashion industry pleaded the same argument with activists.  The outcome?  These days everyone knows where Nike and Timberland and adidas manufacture —names, addresses—and the “competitive secret” argument is debunked.  Period. Don’t tell me cool and sustainable aren’t compatible—there are too many examples in the marketplace, earning plaudits from consumers and activists for anyone to believe otherwise.

With success and leadership comes a heightened expectation of responsibility – and Apple is failing that test.  And the worst part?  The company’s “rebel without a corporate responsibility cause” attitude doesn’t seem to hurt it one bit with consumers or investors.

Many of us – myself included – are perpetuating a mind-blowing double standard, proudly browsing the organic produce section and flaunting our recycled grocery totes … but wave the “it” technology product of the month in front of us, and we forget all about business’s need to be transparent and accountable and responsible.

Why should consumers like me have to choose between transformational technology and moral consumption? To iPad, or not to iPad—why is that the question?  Why shouldn’t Apple’s leadership instead have to raise its game, and make their cool products and their cool company more socially accountable? If Apple would replicate the speed-to-market rigor and innovation of their product development in their corporate responsibility agenda, consumers like me could have our cool and self respect.

Apple should keep exceeding my expectations for products, but not at the expense of my expectations for social and environmental responsibility.  They can and must show leadership in sustainability, not just in technology.  That would be Thinking Differently.