We recently caught up with Jennifer Silberman (@jsilberman1), vice president of corporate responsibility at Target. In this member spotlight, she shares how Target is embedding social and environmental purpose into their company strategy to drive change throughout the retail industry.
Jennifer also shares how employee passion and creativity led to the most successful brand launch in Target history, notes what can happen when corporate leaders combine forces and reveals the novel she’s penning in her spare time – one that might make a great addition to your future beach reads. Read on to learn more.
What project are you most excited about right now?
Over the last eighteen months, we’ve completely reimagined what corporate responsibility means to Target and connected this vision to our overall purpose and strategic priorities. Through this process, we have identified a core aspiration which will continue to guide our approach: create value for the people, communities and planet that we serve, today and tomorrow.
What really excites me about all of this is how Target can be a catalyst for change. We’re in a unique position to drive change throughout the industry by leveraging our scale and size as one of the country’s largest retailers and through our owned brands. This is already coming to life in a number of tangible ways, including our commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of 2020, designing the most sustainable buildings in retail, and creating better-for-you and more inclusive products that bring joy to all families.
How is social or environmental innovation driving value for your business?
I had the pleasure of speaking to this during my presentation at SB’18 Vancouver.Our new CR strategy was specifically designed with business value in mind, focused around four core ambitions, which address the changing social and environmental realities we face today as a company: Empower Teams, Serve Guests, Foster Communities, and Design Tomorrow.
When we looked at what was needed to thrive in the constantly evolving retail environment, our leadership team recognized what a lot of businesses have – that environmental and social purpose must be truly integrated in what we do every day as a company. This is why we designed a strategy that is not separate from our business but instead embedded throughout so that we can drive true business and societal value.
What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?
I’ve always been incredibly passionate about the world around me and have been privileged to study, travel and work on a host of social and environmental issues, from sustainable development to women’s empowerment around the world. Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of working with a variety of companies and organizations to use the power of markets and systems to drive change.
Joining an organization like Target offers enormous opportunity to drive positive environmental and social outcomes at scale. I’m inspired every day by watching the Target team put our purpose at the center of everything they do and deliver on our key priority areas.
One great example here is our most successful brand launch in Target history, Cat & Jack. Without prompting, a group of Cat & Jack designers created a line of adaptive clothing specifically designed for children with sensory processing sensitivities. And because of their passion and creativity, our Cat & Jack line is now more accessible for all guests. This power of purpose is what inspires people, myself included, to be bold and take action to create an even larger impact on the world.
Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?
I have been working on a novel for the last several years in my spare time. Every few months I try to find the time to work on another chapter. It’s pretty slow going as I have been doing this for about the last 10 years or so! I have the story all mapped out in my head and need to finish it before I forget it all. And it has nothing to do with my life or experiences, it’s a quirky chick lit story that promises to give Bridget Jones a run for its money!
If you had unlimited time and resources, on what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members?
The retail industry is continuously evolving, and now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to transform the guest experience in a way that doesn’t just achieve long-term business value, but fulfills our purpose as an organization and drives positive environmental and social outcomes.
And we know Target is not alone in this. As a global corporate citizen, we know we are stronger together. We believe in our shared responsibility to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues, combining forces with other corporate leaders and organizations to address today’s global agenda.
Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?
As the corporate sustainability space continues to evolve, organizations that encourage information sharing and peer learning are incredibly important. Sustainable Brands has created a community for leaders to share new ideas and new resources, which ultimately helps us all achieve a common goal—building a better tomorrow.
Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Members?
I am inspired every day, not just by the work that Target is doing, but by all of the new ideas and new commitments that companies are making in an effort to truly make the world a better place. This community is filled with great leaders who are passionate about making a lasting impact, and I am truly honored to be a part of it.