Understanding the needs of our customers is central to our business. But to be successful as a business, we need to understand our greater impact on the world. We need to understand both the unintended consequences of our business, and the ways that we can innovate to improve the lives of our customers and the world around us. Therefore, we have spent the last several years listening to and increasing our engagement with customers, Associates, civic organizations, faith groups, government leaders, non-profit groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other concerned individuals. This dialogue with our stakeholders pushes us to consider varying points of view, generate new initiatives, anticipate and manage conflicts, and improve our business practices.
We have been and will continue to be open to engaging with those who are committed to working with us, and helping us become a better company. This is something that we are dedicated to and work toward across every unit of our business. At times, we face opposing viewpoints from critics. We believe that even groups that disagree on some things can work together to address the challenges we’re facing in the 21st century. No one person, organization or company can tackle them alone. We encourage those who want to help us face these issues to bring their ideas and constructive criticisms forward.
One of the ways we are working to engage our stakeholders in our journey to run a more sustainable business is through Sustainable Value Networks (SVNs). SVNs provide a forum for Associates, suppliers, NGOs, thought leaders and academic experts to collaboratively explore challenges and develop solutions that benefit the business and our local and global communities. Today our SVNs focus primarily on our environmental impact, but it’s our hope that they will expand in scope. Already, our SVNs have unleashed a wealth of innovation and insight that have resulted in numerous, positive changes to our business operations.
We realize that just as sustainability is a journey, so too are the external engagement and transparency that are fundamental to achieving it. This sustainability report is both a snapshot in time and an important step in our long-term commitment to listening to, and learning from, the people and communities we impact. It challenges us to hold ourselves accountable to having open and honest conversations about where we are in our journey. So as we build on the data presented in this report, it will be imperative that we keep our stakeholders informed on an ongoing basis and respond to their thoughts and ideas.