UPS Sustainability Report Cites 'More of What Matters'

Discover the social, economic and environmental contributions UPS made in 2012.

By Lynnette McIntire, editor of the 2012 Corporate Sustainability Report on 9/10/2013

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The theme of a sustainability report says a lot about a company – for starters, it reveals how the company positions sustainability, externally and internally. It also signals how the company wants to help you, the reader, review the contents.

Each autumn, the UPS sustainability report team extensively discusses the year's strengths and weaknesses and begins to evaluate how that year is different from previous ones. How have the company's sustainability program and commitments evolved? What gaps were addressed? What is going on in the marketplace that could affect the way our sustainability report will be judged?

Last year, we chose "Sustainability is … ?" as the theme because many of our employees and customers were still struggling with the term and how it connected with our business. Much of our content was concerned with providing a definitional guide to readers about how UPS viewed sustainability – incorporating social, environmental and economic aspects.

A shift in mindset
This year, we chose the theme "More of What Matters," which represents not only our growing actions and commitments, but also a shift in our mindset.

One of the criticisms of our previous reports concerned length and breadth. Readers felt overwhelmed by data, charts and graphs. But we recognized that "technical" readers of the report sought that kind of detail and also that international standards were requiring even more information than in previous years.

Our solution: a succinct introductory chapter that highlights the key takeaways in yellow – plus colorful infographics that make it easy to see the big picture. And yet the back of the book still features the technical detail many readers crave.

"More of What Matters" captures how UPS is systematically using its access to vast data and resources to positively impact communities, workplaces and the environment.

Gathering feedback
A good example of this approach is a "materiality matrix" in the report that used feedback from NGOs (nongovernment organizations), socially responsible investors, customers, external surveys and senior UPS management. The feedback revealed what issues matter most to them in terms of UPS's commitment to the business when that commitment is overlaid with the company's responsibility to the world. This report, for the first time, shows how our actions addressed top matrix issues.

This approach aligns with the Global Reporting Initiative, an international sustainability reporting organization that just released guidelines embracing a more focused approach to corporate responsibility. The guidelines use "materiality" as the cornerstone and encourage companies to more deeply understand what matters the most in terms of their social and environmental impacts.

One area that we somewhat neglected over the years is our economic impact. This year's report includes our direct and indirect economic contributions, the economic value of our in-kind and humanitarian logistics contributions, and a letter from our CFO about the economic value of sustainability. We talk about the economic advantages of world trade and feature one of our fastest-growing segments, healthcare logistics. We also have customer statements about how we are working with them to make a difference.

The bottom line is that fiscal success makes it possible for us to do "More of What Matters." The new report cites it all.

Category: Sustainability

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