After we acquired the Burt’s Bees natural personal care company in 2007 and launched our Green Works naturally derived cleaners in 2008, we quickly found ourselves in the spotlight, facing intense scrutiny. Many speculated that Clorox was making a “green washing” play.
To better understand this reputational challenge, we conducted a stakeholder assessment and learned that the most important attributes in assessing our reputation were corporate information and transparency, product and environmental sustainability, community contribution/presence, employee treatment, and product value/innovation. With the exception of product value/innovation, we ranked low on these attributes. It was clear we had a tremendous opportunity to increase transparency and build trust.
With this in mind, we formalized a corporate responsibility (CR) strategy in 2009, shared our commitments on our corporate website and produced our first CR report in 2010. A year later, we combined our financial results and our environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance into one annual report to demonstrate how these aspects of our business work together to help the company achieve its goals.
Since then, we’ve worked to improve our reporting with the goal of presenting a balanced and credible view of how Clorox’s strategy, performance and prospects create value for stockholders and other stakeholders. The end result is better clarity for Clorox and our stakeholders.
It’s been seven years since we purchased the Burt’s Bees business and started wrestling with questions of green washing. I believe it’s a testament to power of transparency (plus the great work of passionate employees) that Clorox was recently named No. 43 on the 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings and No. 29 on CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2014 list. Both of these rankings are determined based on disclosures and performance measures pulled from publicly available information.
As we go forward, we will continue to drive toward greater transparency and enhancing the value of our reporting for all stakeholders. Your feedback is welcome and can be provided to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.