This letter marks my second year as executive sponsor of Grainger’s CSR working group.
We made great strides in 2017, including:
- Tracking on target to reduce emissions intensity 33% by 2020
- Celebrating Grainger’s 90th anniversary with 2,000 of our team members serving their communities nationwide
- Continuing to outpace the industry average by 60 percent in team member safety in our operations
- Achieving 21 basis point reduction in simple returns in our private label products – signaling an increase in product quality and successful initiatives from our two global testing and engineering facilities.
- Being recognized as a 2017 Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), which measures how effective companies are with respect to disability inclusion
Our primary objective for 2017 was to examine how CSR delivers value to our stakeholders. With that in mind, perhaps the most important part of our journey in 2017 was engaging in a materiality assessment to define the economic, social and environmental topics that matter most to Grainger and its stakeholders. Through this assessment, we conducted desktop research, competitive intelligence, surveys, focus groups and one-on-one conversations with our customers, suppliers, team members and investors.
We also examined the link between sustainability and the challenges our customers face in keeping their operations running and their people safe. This link isn’t always apparent because of differences in customer size and complexity, industry type and our primary customer contact. For example, sustainability leaders discuss efficiency, procurement officers may look for cost reduction, engineers may ask about product quality and plant managers may target productivity. Regardless of the focus of a given customer, Grainger can provide the best solutions to the distinct challenges each customer faces, while educating them about how that solution can also improve their organization’s sustainability.
While this materiality assessment was a significant step forward, it is just one part of our 2017 effort. This year’s report also includes new metrics designed to provide more meaningful program measurement for Grainger’s stakeholders. Most notably, we are now including a breakdown of gender and ethnic diversity of our United States (U.S.) workforce both overall and by leadership; providing a view of our revenue (by percent) derived from environmentally preferable products; and further details around our packaging efficiency. I hope you agree that these points demonstrate a meaningful connection between our CSR efforts and the operations of our business.
To assist us in meeting the needs of our stakeholders, deepening the meaningful measurement of our program and ensuring the correct strategic direction of Grainger’s CSR initiatives, we created a CSR Advisory Council. The Council is a group of senior-level team members who frequently interact with our stakeholders. They provide strategic awareness to the program and encourage developments in transparency throughout the organization. The Council, along with myself and the CSR working group, will leverage the findings of our materiality assessment to set new targets and enhance our strategy in the coming months.
I hope you enjoy reading about our progress this year.
Vice President, President Merchandising & Supplier Management