Stakeholder Engagement

Collaboration as a Catalyst

We recognize that we can’t make the kind of impact we aspire to on our business and our industry alone. We’re building a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program to inform and guide our sustainability and responsibility efforts.

16000VF values open communication and collaboration with our stakeholders.

We are developing a comprehensive process for engaging with key stakeholders regarding social and environmental priorities and challenges. Some of our brands such as The North Face® and Timberland® are already leading voices in industry-wide conversations that advance more sustainable business practices. This website is an important step for VF as a whole to improve the way we provide information to our stakeholders. As we look forward, we will continue to engage our stakeholders in regular conversations and provide meaningful information on the issues most important to them.

Thoughtful discussion with our stakeholders has:

• Improved alignment and coordination among our brands, divisions and geographies;
• Increased awareness of emerging trends;
• Sharpened our focus on innovation;
• Enhanced collaboration on issues that matter to our business, customers and consumers; and
• Facilitated best practice and talent sharing to overcome our most difficult challenges.

OUR APPROACH TO ENGAGEMENT
Put Associates First: Our most important stakeholder group is our associates. They know our business, understand our impacts and help us identify the best opportunities to advance sustainable ideas and innovations. Their new ideas, experiences and passion allow us to advance many of our sustainability and responsibility initiatives. The Peoplesection of this website details how we are informing and engaging with our global associates to develop and promote sustainable business practices.

Embrace Industry Alliances: Collaboration with peer companies is an excellent way to advance meaningful change in an industry. VF is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of more than 60 leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers, NGOs and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that works to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. VF is deeply involved with the SAC and the SAC’s primary focus: the creation, testing and implementation of the HIGG Index, a standardized measurement tool that helps apparel and footwear companies evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices. Through our The North Face® brand, VF is an active participant in the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)’s chemical working group, which was formed in 2011 to evaluate the potential impacts of chemicals on people and the environment and to establish common approaches to chemical management during the production and manufacturing process. Through its work with the OIA, The North Face® brand is examining alternative water repellent treatments for its products. VF also works closely with the Leather Working Group (LWG), which seeks to promote sustainable environmental business practices within the leather industry. The Timberland® brand is an inaugural member of this multi-stakeholder organization whose key objective is to create a protocol that assesses the compliance and environmental performance of tanners. The LWG conducts audits of tanneries, and the Timberland® brand has set a target to source leather only from tanneries that are rated silver or higher by LWG.

"“VF’s outdoor brands have been active supporters of the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG) from its inception. Timberland® is among the co-founders of the group and one of the leaders behind the original Eco Index concept (now known as the HIGG Index), while The North Face® and SmartWool® have participated in numerous OIA SWG subgroups and projects to establish industry standards and best practices. VF’s participation in these industry collaborative efforts is critical to ensuring the future growth and success of the outdoor industry.”" - Beth Jensen - Outdoor Industry Association

Partner with Nonprofit Organizations (NGOs): Nonprofit partnerships provide meaningful expertise around environmental and social issues that impact our business; and enable us to develop, test and refine best practices for implementation across our network. We deeply value their collaboration in helping us drive progress. In 2013, VF worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to test new ways for measuring energy efficiency at our supplier factories. VF has scaled this energy efficiency program within our supply chain in China through a program called Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). Through energy audits in 21 Chinese factories, we were able to identify 184 types of energy efficiency projects that together reduce energy bills at the factory level by 18 percent and reduce total energy bills by approximately USD $3.2 million (RMB 20 million)1 per year.

Seek Out Global Experts: We actively partner with organizations that employ leading experts with specialized knowledge in sustainability issues that we face. One such group, bluesign, is an independent agency working to advance sustainable textile production. The North Face® brand encourages use of the bluesign standard as a tool to restrict and reduce harmful chemicals in its products. Today, approximately 40 percent of The North Face® brand’s total fabric volume is bluesign certified, and we hope to increase that to 65 percent by 2015. Another important outside group we collaborate with is Canopy, an organization that protects forests, to establish an overall point of view and approach to forestry issues. VF and Canopy are working together to develop a set of principles for sustainable paper and fiber product use. Additionally, we’re working with organizations like Control Union, Social Accountability International, Textile Exchange and MADE-BY to advance sustainable practices throughout our supply chain. Our relationships with global experts has allowed us to build a network of independent voices who we can engage with on an ongoing basis to inform and guide our sustainability and responsibility efforts. In 2015, we plan to formalize this guidance in the form of an external sustainability advisory council.

OUR MEMBERSHIPS

• Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
• Fair Labour Association (FLA B Member)
• Social Accountability International
• Sustainable Apparel Coalition
• European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA)
• OIG (Outdoor Industry Group)
• Bluesign
• RDS
European Outdoor Group (EOG)
• OIA (Outdoor Industry Association)
• BCI (Better Cotton Initiative)
• Higg Index
• International Textile, Garment and Leather Worker’s Federation
• Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)
• Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety
• Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) – Timberland is an associate member

1. Exchange rate, 1 RMB = 0.16 USD ↩