ESG is here to stay
The 51st World Economic Forum Annual meeting looks at how the foundations of the global economic and social system can be re-aligned to create a fairer, more sustainable and resilient future. The idea that businesses can be disengaged from their communities, the environment, and societal issues at large is no longer possible. Today more than ever, consumers are seeking out brands with a purpose that are aligned with their own personal values. Companies are under pressure from their customers and governments to be positive actors in the world when it comes to environment, sustainability, and governance (ESG) issues, as well as social justice issues. Responsible ESG and social justice practices are expected from all stakeholders as the new normal, and it’s not going away.
The pandemic crisis has disrupted “normal” business as we knew it. Perhaps because of it, sustainability is proving to be more important to consumers than ever before. CEOs have to confront these challenges by putting people first and caring for the broad needs and values of their customers. A company’s brand loyalty and ability to compete in the new marketplace will continue to underpin customers’ decisions and reaffirm that responsible ESG is a combination of philanthropy and common business sense.
A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group found 70 percent of participants were more aware now than before COVID-19 that human activity threatens the climate and that degradation of the environment, in turn, threatens humans. Three-quarters of respondents said environmental issues are as concerning as—or more concerning than—health issues.
For companies like UPS, ESG is widely important and has been at the heart of our long term business strategies for some time; however, for others it may be a new focus requiring immediate attention. No matter how big or small a business is, every company and leader has a role to play in either bettering society for all or hindering it. Even local companies will likely have an impact beyond just their immediate communities through their supply chains that can reach great distances.
At UPS, we are fully aware of the collective impact of our actions and how they can be a powerful force for good. We are committed to building a more sustainable company – and world – by being customer first, people led, and innovation driven. We consciously act on our purpose of “moving our world forward by delivering what matters”. These words are more than a tagline - they represent an approach, a philosophy, a belief at the core of our being. Our purpose taps into the very heart of our DNA and encourages our team of more than 528,000 UPSers to uphold that work every day.
We are about using the strength of our employees and global network to have an impact in a changing world, helping the communities where we work and live and seeking out opportunities that move the economy for all. This desire to do what’s right, to serve others, and to elevate the quality of life for people around the world is more than just our purpose, it’s why we exist, and it makes focusing on ESG much easier.
Our ESG focus also aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we strive to promote these goals across all the countries that make up our integrated logistics network.
For example, women’s equality and empowerment is one of the UN’s 17 SDGs. Through the Women Exporters Program (WEP), UPS continues its efforts to create a more inclusive business environment and growth opportunities for women. With the WEP we have been collaborating with institutions to support and empower female entrepreneurs around the world. The program is run in partnership with the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative. UPS is contributing to the goal of adding three million women owned businesses to the supply chain by 2021. Through this interconnected ecosystem of tailored business solutions and knowledge-sharing, UPS helps women entrepreneurs cross borders and grow their business. In addition, at Expo 2021 Dubai, we are engaged with the Women’s Pavilion to promote and grow the contribution of women to our local and global environment, in line with the values of the UAE.
Another area of focus for UPS is the environement. As the Official Logistics Partner of Expo 2020 we are bringing the very best to the event - from electric assisted quad cycles and tricycles, to the latest generation of UPS electric vehicles. UPS is applying its decades of expertise in sustainable logistics to manage and mitigate the environmental impacts of the Expo.
Our own global goals are ambitious and reflect our commitment to moving the world forward. These are not arbitrary targets but are informed by comprehensive insights including the findings of our regular assessments, our global enterprise strategy, and stakeholder feedback. UPS is driving operational and sustainable improvements for our business, while providing improved speed and service for our customers from pickup to the final mile. We know our customers expect us to be leaders and bring solutions that help reduce their emissions and mitigate the transportation impact of their supply chain. That’s exactly who we are and what we intend to do.
Our global sustainability goals include:
25 percent of all vehicle purchases in 2020 to be alternative fuel/technology
40 percent of all ground fuel purchased to be alternative fuel by 2025
25 percent of electricity to be from renewable sources by 2025
Absolute greenhouse gas emissions from ground operations reduction of 12 percent by 2025
“It is imperative for a company’s ESG focus to be incorporated into its overall culture and strategy alongside the core drive for profit,” said Christina Struller, UPS Vice President for Public Affairs for the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, and Africa. “UPS founder Jim Casey established The UPS Foundation in 1951 with a mission to help build safer, more resilient, and inclusive communities. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for nearly 70 years. According to the culture he established, a company’s relationship with its employees in relation to ESG principles is very important. Every single employee can play a vital role in moving the world forward by helping the company to keep up with ESG demands from consumers, employees and investors too. A key part of becoming a fully responsible business is to start the journey, and to be committed and transparent about it.”
As businesses in the world look to the future and re-evaluate strategies in the wake of the pandemic, questions must be asked about the role they want to play. What are your long-term, global goals outside of your commercial and financial targets that will help the world be better? How will you make a difference on the social and environmental issues most important to your customers and to the world? What is it that drives you – what is your purpose?
As a global logistics provider, UPS’s purpose carves a path forward to always be ready for what will come next. We hope you join us on this inclusive, equitable and sustainable journey.
This piece is contributed by Christina Struller, Vice President Public Affairs for Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and Africa at UPS