Today, Lowe’s released its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report: Finding New Ways Forward, Together. Every year, Lowe’s strives to improve its performance around being a responsible corporate citizen and the annual report helps highlight the company’s goals and progress toward better supporting its people, communities and the environment.
The detailed document is 60 pages, data-focused and provides three years’ worth of data so readers can see performance trends over time. But if you’re not ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of the report, Lowe’s senior director of corporate sustainability, Chris Cassell, answers a few basic questions about the report, shares a few 2020 highlights and gives insight into why these reports are so important for Lowe’s and its stakeholders.
Q: WHAT IS THE CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY REPORT?
A: The CR report is an opportunity for Lowe’s to share the initiatives that are underway to improve our environmental and social performance as well as our governance practices to all relevant stakeholders, whether it’s our associates, our customers, investors or other organizations that are interested in the performance of our organization. It also outlines the initiatives we have planned that help improve our performance over time in the future. The report includes the public commitments that we’ve made and updates about how we’re progressing against those commitments.
Q: WHY DOES LOWE’S PUBLISH THIS REPORT EVERY YEAR?
A: We started publishing the CR report back in the early 2000s to help raise awareness of the work that the company was doing in the space, both in terms of contributions to the communities that we serve as well as efforts we were taking to protect the environment. Over the years we found that an increasing number of stakeholders are expecting companies to increase transparency and disclosure around the programs they have in place and how they’re performing. So really, it’s an effort to be more transparent in the impacts the company is having on the world around us, what we think the biggest opportunities are and where we see challenges.
Q: HOW IMPORTANT ARE A COMPANY’S SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES AND HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THAT CHANGE IN RECENT YEARS?
A: Obviously, I think it’s a huge deal. I also think you would get unanimous agreement from the company’s leadership and our board that sustainability needs to be a priority for Lowe’s.
A: I think it’s interesting that initial discussions around sustainability a couple of decades ago were largely driven by activist organizations that were concerned about specific environmental issues. As time went on, it became apparent that there were direct links between sustainability issues and financial performance. So, investors started taking note. As we started to see an uptick in the frequency and severity of natural disasters, the link became even more apparent. Think about this: when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it caused over $100B in damage. That’s crazy to think about. The next group that really popped up was associates. As employees are looking for companies to work for, they really want to work for a company that has the same kind of values that they do and is actually making a positive difference in the world. The last segment I would touch on is our customers. As millennials become a larger percentage of homeowners, you’re starting to see an increase in demand for sustainable products, and consumers are increasingly spending their money with companies that demonstrate similar values to their own. This is a huge opportunity for us, as we have the right people, products and services to help them on their own sustainability journey at home.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIG TAKEAWAYS YOU WANT READERS TO GET FROM THE REPORT?
A: I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made both in terms of energy efficiency and renewable energy. I think those are two areas where we outperformed our own expectations and definitely our peers over the last year. I think we’ve made a lot of progress on the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) side. We’ve made really great strides with our board and executive leadership team diversity, but we still have work to do. Marvin and the leadership team have been working diligently to try and improve the diversity numbers at the leadership level and now they’re working to cascade that and make sure we’re hitting at all levels of the company. I’m also proud of the numbers that we have tied to both energy savings and water savings for our customers because we have significant reach when you have close to 20 million customers a week coming into our stores. If we can sell them products that will help them reduce their environmental footprint at home, then we’re making a difference nationwide that goes well beyond the scope of our own operational footprint. Finally, the outsized contributions we made to the community to support small businesses and to protect frontline workers in 2020… so that’s one more thing I’d really call attention to. It was a banner year in terms of being there to help people through a difficult time.
To read the complete report, visit our CR Reports and Policies page or check out some of the highlights of the report below: