In 2017 we conducted our company’s first formal materiality assessment (the “2017 Assessment”) to determine which Corporate Responsibility topics matter the most to our business and to our key stakeholders, whom we define as our team members, customers, investors and the communities we impact. This process involved intensive consultation and research to identify a full list of topics, which were then analyzed by internal subject matter experts (SMEs) such as representatives from our People, Workplace Services, Supply Chain and Community Affairs teams, as well as external stakeholders such as NGOs, trade organizations and non-profits, while finally being validated by our Senior Management Team.
During the issue identification phase of the 2017 Assessment, we conducted external research, benchmarked our industry peers, and conducted 16 internal interviews with 34 subject matter experts. In the engagement phase of the 2017 Assessment, we interviewed 8 external stakeholder organizations such as NGOs and trade associations, resulting in the development of a master list of over 50 material issues. These inputs led to the next phase where we mapped each issue along our company's value chain and to the Global Reporting Initiative, an independent international Corporate Responsibility standard that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate their CR issues and impacts consistently. In the last stage of prioritization and validation, we obtained feedback via surveys from team members, customers, and members of our cross-functional Corporate Responsibility Leadership Team on the importance of these issues and then presented this data to the Senior Management Team for final review and confirmation.
Once our top material issues were validated, we engaged in a gaps analysis which included assessing these issues against our values and strengths, as well as a deeper benchmarking of our peers. Based on our 2017 Assessment, our greatest areas of opportunity were in the material topics of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Sustainable Packaging, Energy-Efficient Operations and Responsible Sourcing and Manufacturing. In 2018 we formed internal Work Groups and 3 year Action Plans for each of these four areas to build on our capacity for greater leadership and focused attention and are proud of the progress we’ve made in these areas, which you can learn more about throughout this site.
Several of our Work Groups have established formalized commitments in the form of long-range goals/targets. We intend to track and report on our progress toward achieving these goals and targets on an annual basis, as well as add new commitments to the Dashboard as they develop.
Taking into account changes in the retail industry, we actively seek input on our material issues with both external and internal stakeholders, particularly when major changes to our business arise. For example, when we acquired HSN and the Cornerstone brands we received feedback from our internal colleagues that the material issues we had identified reflected the topics they felt were most material to their businesses as well.
We are also active members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) having sought their input as external stakeholders for our materiality assessment, gaps analysis and new messaging framework. RILA is a US trade association for retailers that convenes decision-makers to collaborate and gain from each other’s experience and advances the industry through public-policy advocacy and promotion of operational excellence and innovation. Through research and thought leadership, RILA propels developments that foster both economic growth and sustainability. As active participants in the below RILA committees and councils, we are able to benchmark and collaborate with peer companies on issues essential to long-term preparedness and resilience to withstand critical events. Issues addressed are outlined under each of the respective committees below:
- Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council: Setting D&I organizational strategy and continuous improvement.
- Energy Management Committee: Assessing operational energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and renewable energy procurement strategies.
- Zero Waste Committee: Evaluating recycling, donation, composting, reuse, circular economy principles, and other diversion options for waste generated at retail facilities and, increasingly, in product and packaging supply chains.
- Responsible Sourcing Committee: Working with suppliers to ensure ethical working conditions, ensuring supplier compliance and driving continuous improvement in existing and emerging sourcing regions.
- Sustainability Committee: Managing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy, waste generation reduction strategy, the circular economy, and stakeholder engagement/communications.