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Organizational Change
Target Highlights Successes, Shortcomings in Ongoing Sustainability Journey

In 2015, Target wrapped up its five-year goals and built the foundation for the future of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice, which is to make wellness a way of life; pursue sustainability for products and business operations; champion a more inclusive society; and invest and engage in their communities. Summarizing their progress and capturing important projects and milestones, Target’s 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility Report was released this week.

  • Donated $1 billion to education (cumulative since 2009), meeting its goal, and touching more than 120,000 schools across the U.S., donating more than 8.2 million books, and renovating more than 200 libraries along the way;
  • Improved the design of 153 Target owned-brand packages to be more sustainable, exceeding the 50 design goal;
  • Reduced water use by square foot by 17.1 percent, achieving its 10 percent goal;
  • Reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per square foot by 11.5 percent, achieving its 10 percent goal;
  • Improved inbound and outbound transportation efficiencies by 36 and 26 percent, respectively, exceeding their goals of 15 and 20 percent;
  • Increased organic food offerings by 114 percent, far-exceeding its 25 percent by 2017 goal; and
  • Increased volunteer hours to over 1 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015, exceeding its goal of 700,000 hours annually.

Target fell short on the other ten of their goals, some by a larger margin than others, but made progress towards all of them. Among these, the retailer was unable to reduce its operating waste to landfills by 15 percent (achieved just over 5 percent), reduce GHG emissions per retail sales by 20 percent (achieved almost 17 percent), and increase various health screenings to desired levels. The most narrowly-missed targets were those of sustainable seafood selection – only 97 percent, rather than 100, of selection in its stores were sustainable, traceable or in a time-bound improvement process – and team members using Target-provided financial tools and resources. 27.6 percent of team members participating in the Target 401(k) program were using such tools in 2015, just shy of the company’s 30 percent target.

Target is ‘closing out’ all of the goals set prior to 2015 and is setting new ones for the future, based on the new foundation of its CSR strategy – wellness, sustainability, inclusivity and communities.

“These goals came to a close in 2015, and while we’re celebrating successes and examining where we fell short, we are also working on the next chapter of our strategy by creating a new set of aspirational goals and milestones that will guide our efforts into the future,” Executive Vice President and Chief Social Responsibility Officer Laysha Ward wrote in a blog post.

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“Bruce Dayton [the grandson of the company’s founder] always told me that “if you’re not falling down from time to time, you’re not taking enough risks.” So as we shape our plans, we’ll continue to honor what works, but never settle on it. We’ll still be innovating, and finding new ways to solve old and new problems. And we’re grateful to do that with an ecosystem—hand in hand with you, our valued team members, guests and partners.”

In addition to the company’s goals, Target had a number of statistics and initiatives to proudly share in its latest CSR report. For instance, Target's overall team member population is 57 percent female, and women comprise 46 percent of its senior leadership ranks. One of their most notable partnerships is with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF Kid Power, featuring a child-sized fitness tracker called the Kid Power Band. As the program’s exclusive retailer, Target committed $2.5 million to support Kid Power and help the Kid Power school program to reach up to 70,000 students in high-need communities across the country.

Also in 2015, Target became one of 154 companies to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. A number of Target’s new goals will support the pledge, including one to reduce energy intensity per square foot by 10 percent by 2020 for the retailer’s stores against a baseline of 2010. This effort alone is expected to eliminate 271,500 metric tons of GHG emissions from the stores—equal to the reduction of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from nearly 25,000 homes’ energy use.

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