As we look back over our 100-year history, starting in 1923 with our founder, Herman O. West, we have been committed to sustainable business practices — to giving back to our communities and providing a safe, healthy, and diverse work environment for our team members.
In 2017, we first formalized our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy to focus on the six areas in which we felt we could make the greatest impact: Diversity & Inclusion; Quality; Compliance; Philanthropy; Environmental Sustainability; and Health & Safety.
And in 2019, we started measuring against our five-year Environmental Goals, which will conclude in 2023. You can learn more about our performance against those goals within this ESG Report. We have made the purposeful decision to move from a Corporate Responsibility (CR) report to an ESG report, for we believe that ESG provides a clearer path to business sustainability, integrating a more comprehensive, quantitative,and measurable business plan.
Herman O. West was well known for his quote, “Keep everlastingly at it” — a saying he frequently used to keep his employees focused with a continuous improvement mindset. Today, we are proud to carry that mantra forward — and “Keep everlastingly at it” with our ongoing commitment to ESG. As we look ahead and build our strategy to best support our next 100 years of business, ESG will underpin all areas of our business strategy, budgets, and expansion projects.
One of the key advancements in our ESG strategy moving forward is adding greater scientific rigor and a more quantitative focus to our environmentally based targets. Science-based targets will provide a more clearly defined pathway for West to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that are in line with the Paris Agreement goals. Through the 2015 Paris Agreement, world governments committed to curbing global temperature rise and limiting global warming to 1.5°C. We know that the private sector has a crucial role to play in this, and West has committed to joining other organizations worldwide by setting emissions reduction targets grounded in science through the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Another key advancement is ensuring that our ESG strategy has a commercial focus, which includes working collaboratively with our customers and suppliers to solve ESG challenges. We want to ensure that our ESG goals align with those of our customers and that we are being responsive to their needs as well. We know that ESG performance is important to our customers, and it’s important that we are clearly communicating to them our commitment and efforts in critical areas such as carbon neutrality, recycling and reuse of products, and secondary packaging.
As was first announced in last year’s report, through an iterative and data-driven process, we have selected six priorities of focus that directly link our Mission, Vision, and Values. These priorities are Climate Strategy; Waste in Operational Processes; Research and Development (R&D) for the Environment; Responsible Supply Chain; Talent Diversity and Attraction; and Talent Engagement and Retention. We have set 12 KPI areas to ensure we can measure our impact on these new priorities.
I am pleased with our progress and am proud of the commitment our Executive Leadership Team and Board of Directors have made in this area. Our Leadership Team understands the paramount importance ESG plays in our overall business performance, and each leader is committed to the responsibility of their functions in supporting our ESG goals.
While we have seen great strides, we are very aware that more work needs to be done. I am confident that our commitment to “Keep everlastingly at it” will lead to continued progress in this critical area, both now and for future generations.