Burt’s Bees Social Responsibility Report Takes Lessons from Bees


This post was written by Paula Alexander, director of Sustainable Business for Burt’s Bees and president of the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation.

Authenticity, transparency and sustainability are important strands of the Burt’s Bees brand DNA. We bring this to life through the “% natural” indicator on our labels and through our Sustainability Report.

On June 24, Burt’s Bees released its last corporate social responsibility report. Because our official data and reporting is now covered by the award-winning Clorox integrated report, we have fewer constraints on our reporting format and can focus on our progress against goals, our strategic priorities and what’s most relevant and interesting to our stakeholders.

Going forward, Burt’s Bees CSR updates will reside in the recently updated Sustainability section of our website, and we’ll continue to share progress and engage in dialogue with our Facebook community.

Throughout the report, we include a narrative that draws on the lessons of bees and share how they are becoming both the inspiration for and the beneficiaries of our sustainability work. Bees, after all, are in our name and are the manufacturers of beeswax, one of our priority ingredients.

To develop our report, we solicited input from both internal and external experts, covering 30 sustainability issues relevant to the company. To help identify priorities, topics were rated in terms of importance to the Burt’s Bees business and importance to society. We then asked the same questions of our online consumer community.

The report covers our progress in natural formulations and packaging development, as well as improvements in our operational footprint even as we’ve experienced double-digit growth. The report also discusses our responsible sourcing plan: We have work left to do before we achieve raw material supply-chain transparency, but we’ve begun making progress and have a roadmap in place. We highlight activities like our Live the Greater Good service program and culture day, which are so critical to sustaining our unique Burt’s Bees culture, arguably one of our greatest competitive advantages. Finally, we discuss the strategic decision to focus our giving on a single mission: making valuable invest

ments in human health through sustainable agriculture and community gardening, which also help honeybee populations thrive.

The most challenging part of the process was developing our refreshed 2020 Sustainability Goals. But doing the research needed to establish our new goals was invaluable — and now we have set the stage for continuing to be leaders in and taking a whole-systems approach to sustainability, as well as integrating sustainability increasingly into the organization.

You can find our report here. Feel free to share your thoughts with us—that’s how we learn and grow. You can catch us at CSR@burtsbees.com.

Paula Alexander leads sustainability at Burt’s Bees and is responsible for ensuring that sustainability is prioritized in all parts of the business and decision making. She also leads the company’s volunteer The Greater Good teams and is president of The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation. Alexander lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband, 9-year-old son and their 110-pound Great Dane, Dharma. She is a certified yoga instructor, which helps inform her six-word life story: Type-A yogi seeking mindfulness at work. 

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