The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at david.chandler@ucdenver.edu


Monday, January 30, 2012

Strategic CSR - Timberland

I recently returned an old, defective product to Timberland. The overall exchange experience with the company was excellent for two reasons: First, they replaced the product without question (customer service that is increasingly rare, but reminded me of other companies that do this well, such as Zappos—see CSR Newsletters October 7, 2011 and October 6, 2008) and, second, it was very interesting to see the packaging that accompanied the new product.

In particular, I was interested in the carbon footprint label on every product the firm ships. I had heard about Timberland’s work on carbon footprints (see also Tropicana’s carbon footprint of its orange juice, Issues: Sustainability, pp.321-322) and I use a video on Timberland in my classes that highlights its progressive stance on carbon emissions (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTbJULvD6LY), but this is the first one of the labels I had seen. The label reports firm performance in four distinct sections:

·         Climate impact (use of renewable energy)
·         Chemicals used (PVC-free)
·         Resource consumption (both eco-friendly and recycled materials)
·         Trees planted through 2009

The information on the label is not product specific, but firm-level measures that are averaged over individual products. There are also detailed footnotes on the label explaining calculations and including limited disclaimers. I point out these limitations not to cast suspicions on the effort, but to recognize we are still in the early stages of this complex measurement process. Timberland (along with firms like Walmart and Tropicana) is leading the way and creating the knowledge necessary to measure CSR performance more effectively in comparable ways across firms and industries.

For more information from Timberland as well as an image of the carbon footprint label that now accompanies all products, see: http://community.timberland.com/Earthkeeping/Our-Footprint