Best Corporate Steward: Office Depot

The "Shared Value" Category

Excerpts from the nomination:

Office Depot provides office supplies and services through 1,628 worldwide retail stores, a dedicated sales force, top-rated catalogs, and global e-commerce operations. The company works hard to provide value to its shareholders and its bottom line. As an organization that cares, Office Depot embraces its role as a good corporate citizen. This position is reflected in its environmental practices, its commitment to diversity, and its community outreach.

In 2006, Office Depot launched an environmental strategy to buy greener, be greener and sell greener. The goals associated with reducing the company’s environmental footprint were expected to offer many benefits, including the satisfaction that comes from taking better care of the planet; financial savings resulting from greater efficiencies; and an increase in the number of customers who share the company’s values.

Office Depot’s carbon footprint has dropped by more than 100,000 metric tons since the company started tracking it in 2005. Its elelctricity cost is also now tens of millions of dollars less. In 2011, the company was recognized by the EPA as an ENERGY STAR leader for being the first large U.S. retailer to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent. In 2011, Office Depot reached an important milestone when it exceeded 10,000 products with environmental attributes for resale in the U.S.

In 2011, 250 of the 460 copy papers Office Depot offered in the U.S. contained recycled content or were Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. That represents a significant increase from the 80 such items offered in 2009. An additional 120 copy papers met the more widely used SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) or PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forestry Certification) standards. Internally, Office Depot has made great progress in buying greener in a number of categories, including lighting, cleaning chemicals, technology, building products, carpets, and many more.

Office Depot offers one of the most comprehensive Supply Chain Diversity models of its kind. Its industry leadership and innovations serve as important catalysts that significantly expand opportunities for Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs). Office Depot’s support for HUBs, defined as Certified Minority, Women, Disabled, Veteran, and Small (SBA 8(a), SDB, WOSB, VOB and HUBZone) Enterprises, is advanced through a wide range of initiatives, including programs that have set a new standard for effectiveness within the office products industry.

In 2011, more than $351 million in HUB sales were generated at Office Depot, an increase of eight percent over the previous year. Product offerings from HUB vendors are diverse, ranging from toner and paper to banking supplies, security cameras and safety equipment. More than 1,600 total items can be found in the Office Depot 2011 HUB Catalog. Office Depot's ongoing commitment to diversity is regularly acknowledged by a number of organizations, including Last year, the nation's leading multicultural business-to-business website ranked Office Depot No. 5 on its annual list of Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities. It is Office Depot’s 13th year on this list.

Nearly 20 years after its founding in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, the Office Depot Foundation,  guided by its mission - Listen, Learn, Care, is recognized as a dynamic, multifaceted catalyst for positive change.

Office Depot Foundation contributions touched hundreds of non-profit organizations in 2011. Grants and contributions of approximately $1.9 million plus $9.7 million of in-kind donations benefited 1,857 non-profit organizations. The Foundation also spurred volunteer support through its Caring Connection website, resulting in more than 4,000 hours of service to U.S. non-profit organizations.

Beginning with the Executive Committee and continuing throughout the company’s Operating Committee (officers and directors), Office Depot’s senior management team is integrally involved in creating a culture where corporate citizenship is the norm. Company executives are actively involved with the work of the Office Depot Foundation and participate in a variety of its programs and initiatives throughout the year. Office Depot associates at all levels pride themselves on helping Office Depot to meet its social, environmental, and economic goals.

Ultimately, these strategic priorities play important roles in supporting Office Depot’s overall goals of serving its customers and creating value for its shareholders. At the same time, these priorities send strong messages to stakeholders by demonstrating that Office Depot is not content to take the easy way out in any of its endeavors. These strategies are designed to enhance the company’s reputation, engender loyalty, and repeat business among customers, and serve the community—all of which have the potential to build the bottom line.

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