How Business Impacts the Environment and Society as a Whole
An “aha” moment is accompanied by delight or relief because you recognize something with clarity for the first time. It happens when you see a ’69 Chevy Camaro and realize your ’67 Pontiac Firebird has the exact same body style. Maybe it happens when you realize the weird sticker that says "Obey" on the telephone pole in front of your house is a portrait of Andre the Giant. Or when you realize those text messages from your grandchild stands for laughing out loud (LOL) and Starbucks (*$). Whether you are 25 or 65, there is an undeniable feeling when something “clicks”.
Hunter Industries hopes to create an “aha” moment for our employees, customers, and the industry at large with the launch of our first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report. In this report, we demonstrate how current and future business decisions have the potential to improve our impacts on the environment and society. The CSR report is a public declaration of Hunter’s commitment to incorporating sustainability into our business and covers current successes and challenges. This is an explanation of why and how we reported our CSR performance.
We made this commitment because our industry is reliant on healthy communities and a robust environment for its success. Healthy communities provide a strong workforce and a thriving market for our products and services. A robust environment requires a balance of delicate habitats for wildlife and careful use of resources in a way that they can be replenished for future generations. Our businesses' dependence on healthy communities was evident during the recent recession where vast foreclosures and a stall in housing starts affected revenues throughout the industry. Recent water shortages throughout the American Southeast and Texas highlighted the delicate nature of this finite resource. Additionally increased frequencies in droughts and floods have changed areas we serve with unknown consequences.
Sustainability holds immense importance to our industry, and requires clarification and definition to successfully embed into our business practices. At Hunter, we define sustainability as acting in a manner today that positively impacts tomorrow. Corporate social responsibility is the management of an entity’s economic, environmental, and social impacts through strategic tracking and decision making. Key to CSR management is maintaining perspective of the big picture while considering the details. For example Haagen-Dazs created a microsite to support the protection of Honey bees, which are in crisis due to Colony Collapse Disorder. This is a specific issue that can have dire consequences for our food supply and subsequently their business. Another example is 3M’s decision to choose water over solvent based adhesives in their Super Sticky Note to reduce manufacturing costs, environmental degradation, and safety issues.
In a 2010 Harvard Business Review, Daniel Esty and David Lubin call sustainability a Megatrend like electrification, information systems, and globalization. They go on to state that megatrends “force fundamental and persistent shifts in how companies compete.” We agree with this affirmation, and two and half years ago starting as an internal grassroots effort, Hunter began a journey to turn our commitment to sustainability into a measurable, reportable, and actionable component of our business. We are still in the beginning stages, but there is no turning back.
Our commitment to sustainability demonstrates our core value of citizenship; the imperative that we work to maintain and build healthy communities and take steps to protect the planet. To ensure we remain accountable to our core value of citizenship, employees formed the Hunter Sustainability Action Group (HSAG) our company’s “Green Team.” HSAG is a volunteer group that creates awareness of our sustainability performance and helps implement beneficial changes to our business processes. In 2012 HSAG made an aggressive goal to help Hunter reduce paper use 50% by 2015. HSAG worked with some of the highest paper consuming departments to streamline processes, and with the Information Systems department to replace our printer feet with new multifunction printers. These changes resulted in a 25% reduction in printing saving 100 trees and $18,000.
Hunter’s 2012 CSR report provides a glimpse inside our operations, and offers a transparent synopsis of our sustainability performance and future targets. To create a baseline for improvement and keep us accountable to our challenges, HSAG presented an action plan for creating Hunter’s first CSR report to Hunter’s Leadership Team. An important requirement was that we use Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3.1 framework: “The Reporting Framework sets out the principles and performance Indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance.” Adding a standardized process to our reporting ensures completeness and accuracy, consequently making our performance and targets easily comparable to other companies.
The G3.1 GRI reporting framework has 54 core indicators of which the Leadership Team agreed to report on at least 10 indicators. The CSR Team sent an indicator survey to our board, employees, select customers, and suppliers to gain an understanding of how our sustainability performance affects them and their organizations. The survey and subsequent conversation helped the CSR Team prioritize our top 13 indicators for reporting. For clarity sake, we categorized the indicators into seven impacts; climate change and energy use, community, water use and biodiversity, waste, product responsibility, employees, and human rights in our supply chain. To measure these impacts, the CSR Team selected members from their departments to form the Data-Collection Team. The Data-Collection Team developed new measurement techniques to track employee training hours, percent recycled content in materials, and the human rights performance of our contract manufacturers.
Communicating our reporting efforts requires accuracy and transparency, while at the same time holding the audience’s interest. The theme of this year’s report is “Behind every product, there is a story of how we do business.” Because this is our inaugural report, it is imperative that we give the reader a glimpse inside Hunter Industries. Each impact features one or two stories about our sustainability journey. The “Our Approach” section provides special insight into managerial strategy based on interviews with Hunter’s Vice Presidents. Common themes emerged which signal increased company alignment to drive positive action for improved results. One theme was utilizing real-time-data for a more accurate system view to aid in strategic decision making. Another theme was increasing cross departmental collaboration through formalized and informal processes.
The report sets concrete targets including a goal of 90% diversion rate of waste to landfill by 2017, surveying our top 40 suppliers on human rights in 2013, and increasing supervisors' leadership and management training to 8 hours per year by 2014. Paul Polman, The CEO of Unilever, the top ranked company according to the 2013 Sustainability Leaders Survey, said, “If we achieve our sustainability targets and no one else follows, we will have failed.” At Hunter Industries we believe that our improvements while significant for us will not have the impacts necessary impact unless the entire industry and supply chain realize the importance of incorporating sustainability.
If you have an “aha” moment let us know. Together we all can make a difference in our industry’s environment and society impact. This is a collaborative effort and the greater the synergy amongst all stakeholders in the lifecycle the better our perspective will become resulting in better business decisions for all.