Operating Responsibly

Grainger is evolving with the marketplace, while continuing to value the same sound business practices that helped shape us 90 years ago. Ethics and integrity define our culture, and we embrace the interests of our stakeholders across the value chain through a detailed set of business policies and procedures.


Supplier Code of Ethics

Grainger works with thousands of suppliers to offer more than 1.6 million products used by customers to maintain, repair and operate their facilities. To help ensure the products we distribute are manufactured and delivered with high ethical standards, our Supplier Code of Ethics focuses on four main areas of ethical sourcing: human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.

All Grainger suppliers and their sub-suppliers with dealings in the U.S., Canada and Mexico are expected to comply with the Supplier Code of Ethics. This also will be introduced to Cromwell suppliers in 2017. These suppliers must acknowledge our Code of Ethics and agree to the expectations within as a condition of doing business with Grainger. Prior to onboarding, a new supplier must agree to abide by the Supplier Handbook. This handbook includes Grainger processes, transportation and our Code of Ethics agreement. All suppliers must agree to abide by these rules and confirm this by the signing of their Supplier Agreement Letter.

Ethics & Compliance Approval Process for New and Existing Suppliers

Supplier Diversity

Grainger has more than 20 years of successful experience offering small and diverse companies opportunities through two core programs. Started in 1999, Grainger’s Supplier Diversity Program is designed to grow this sector of the economy while helping customers get their jobs done with quality products made by women, minority, disabled, veteran and LGBTQ-owned businesses. This year, 170 Certified Supplier Diversity businesses offered more than 38,000 items to Grainger’s U.S. customers. In 2016, Grainger customers spent approximately $157 million on products supplied by these organizations.

Distributor Alliance Program    Since 2006, the Distributor Alliance (DA) Program has helped customers support Diverse Business Enterprises while consolidating maintenance, repair and operating purchases. Over 60 DA members resell the full 1.6 million products offered by Grainger and provide services to customers with mandated procurement goals to support small businesses and provide employment opportunities to women, minority and veteran-owned businesses. The DA member is one of the many points of contact for the customer, including regional business managers who mentor the diverse DA members and act as a liaison between Grainger, the end customer and the DA.

As with all of our catalog suppliers, we monitor each partner’s performance with a monthly balanced scorecard. We provide feedback and offer assistance in performance areas where improvement is needed. We seek to provide meaningful focus in pragmatic areas where efficiency can be gained and effectiveness can be improved.

Ethical Sourcing

Conflict Minerals    As a distributor of hundreds of thousands of branded and private label products manufactured by thousands of other companies located around the world, Grainger is invariably many levels away from the beginning of the supply chain for the products it distributes. Even so, Grainger is committed to acting in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and we take our responsibility within the supply chain seriously. Grainger supports the goal of the Dodd-Frank Act of preventing armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjoining countries from benefiting from the sourcing of certain minerals from that region.

Grainger’s Ethical Sourcing Platform

Sustainable Packaging    As part of Grainger’s commitment to ethical sourcing, we work closely with suppliers to identify potential opportunities to minimize unnecessary packaging while reducing the risk of damage to the products we offer. In 2015, the company introduced Supplier Packaging Guidelines to its U.S. and GGS suppliers to encourage suppliers to take sustainability into account when making packaging decisions. The guidelines include best practices to help reduce damage and waste while maximizing recyclable materials.

A Bright Idea

In 2016, all U.S. Grainger distribution centers transitioned packaging materials for light bulbs from foam to kraft paper made with 100 percent recycled raw materials. The paper is produced at a paper mill certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative with a closed water system that produces no municipal wastewater. The transition was a win-win win: a cost savings for Grainger, easy to recycle for our customers and better at protecting our light bulbs.