Companies with powerful cultures
Here are what some of the other companies held by our Sustainable Total Return Strategy are doing to improve company culture. All companies referenced were held by our fund as of 31 December 2020. Reference to specific companies is not an opinion as to their present or future value and should not be considered investment advice or a personal recommendation. They’re included in the article to demonstrate the positive impact companies can have.
Croda, a specialty UK chemicals company, took the decision to embed sustainability into its culture years ago. The company provides value-add ingredients to end markets which include personal care, healthcare and agriculture. Products include the active ingredient in sunscreen, bio-based detergents or excipients for vaccines.
It recognised that its customers would increasingly want ways to enhance the sustainability credentials of their own products, so focused on ingredients that would be climate, land and people positive. With a culture underpinned by a social purpose, Croda has even taken the extraordinary step of exiting profitable business lines that aren’t net positive for the world, solely because this is the right thing to do.
Similarly, Nike – whose history is rooted in using innovation to progress sport – now recognises that it faces the broader challenge of protecting the future of sport itself. It does this by promoting a culture of diversity, sustainability and equitable access to sport. While Nike was somewhat tarnished by the supply chain challenges it faced in the 1990s when it was still a young company, its actions are now defined by this new purpose.
Its aspiration to be a leader in diversity and inclusion can be seen through its ‘Until We All Win’ campaign. Nike is prominent across several social injustice causes, including Black Lives Matter3, investing heavily to promote equality in the communities in which it operates. Nike also maintains 1:1 gender pay4, and has been named the best place to work for LGBTQ+ equality by the Human Right Campaign Foundation for 19 years in a row5.
Across its complex supply chain, the company has moved to improve transparency by becoming the first company in its industry to disclose its entire third-party manufacturing facility footprint6. At the same time, it’s widely-used anonymous supply chain worker survey sees over 270,000 workers annually give insight into working conditions – leading to greater facility oversight7. With a supply chain of over 500 third-party factories8this can be a challenge.
However, these actions help to improve visibility and allow for greater independent observation.
Its ‘Move to Zero’ programme reflects its journey to zero carbon and zero waste. Nike is the industry’s largest user of recycled polyester9, while technologies such as Flyknit10– a durable and flexible fabric – minimise material wastage. Designers are encouraged to promote sustainable product innovation through their Materials Sustainability Index, which scores 57,000 materials on their sustainability credentials11.
This is all underpinned by a culture of driving sporting excellence, attracting some of the world’s top sporting talent.