Not only is corporate sustainability the right thing to do, it’s increasingly critical to sustaining customer, employee, and stakeholder relationships.
That’s reflected in multiple studies confirming the importance of corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies to consumers, especially millennials who make up the largest population group worldwide. Nielsen recently found that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on products that come from sustainable brands, and 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment. Fifty-seven percent of executives and investment professionals surveyed by McKinsey also believe that ESG programs create shareholder value.
“A corporate strategy focusing on sustainability can add brand value, meet consumer demands, increase efficiency, attract valuable talent and create new opportunities,” writes Talal Rafi, founder and CEO of Sesame Associates, in Forbes.
That said, many U.S. companies have yet to fully embrace sustainable policies and practices. Though 90% of U.S. business executives view it as important, only 60% of U.S. firms have formed real strategies.
“Often, companies that speak of being sustainable are lacking when it comes to implementation,” Rafi wrote. “One of the reasons I believe this is happening is because CEOs and corporate boards are not as engaged as they should be with sustainability strategies.”
Climbing toward ‘Elevate Summit’
At Summit Materials, we’re deliberate and action-focused with our ESG plan and sustainability initiatives. Our overall vision is to become the most socially responsible integrated construction materials solution provider. We believe the best way to do that is by living our values.
“Like all great companies, we strive to be the best and we have established core values to be the foundation of our actions and decisions,” notes Anne Noonan, Summit’s President, CEO and Director. “While it’s easy to write admirable values, it’s harder to live them. Everyone at Summit helps to shape and evolve our culture further. We want everyone to help each other live our values — to encourage and hold each other responsible.”
Sustainability is one of our four core values as a company, which also includes safety, integrity, and inclusivity. That means we aim to build trust by doing what’s right and remaining accountable — even when no one is watching. We answer to the impact of our actions, we continually seek opportunities to develop innovative practices and solutions, and we act intentionally to bring our local communities together while driving equity for all stakeholders. As our recent ESG report states, we recognize that robust environmental and social performance is not only the right thing to do, but we believe it’s key to achieving our vision.
How is all that manifested in our daily operations? In 2021, we launched a comprehensive improvement plan known as our Elevate Summit Strategy. Many of our long-range objectives center around carbon reduction and land reclamation. As a result, we’ve established specific, concrete goals in those categories that we aim to meet fully by 2030 and 2050, respectively. We’ve also committed to keep employees, customers and stakeholders well-informed about how we’re doing along the way.
Last year, we made significant progress. For example, we formalized a dedicated ESG function; published a 2020 baseline for water, waste and carbon emissions as part of an SASB-compliant report; helped develop (and signed) the Portland Cement Association’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2050; and demonstrated year-over-year improvement in our recordable incident rate as part of our zero-harm culture.
We are also using available technology to measure and reduce our water usage, to convert from diesel to line power and to leverage telemetry to track and enhance fuel efficiency. Along the way, we’re piloting new technologies such as artificial intelligence and next-generation concrete solutions.
By remaining true to our values, we believe we can help create a more sustainable and prosperous future for our employees, our local communities and our stakeholders.