A lot has changed at VF Corp. over the last year.
The corporate parent to The North Face, Vans and Supreme swapped out its chief executive officer, has been pushed by activist investors to sell off brands and saw its stock fall by more than 50 percent.
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But in the thick of the intense work of getting back on track, the company has also underscored both its purpose-driven progress and its commitment to a series of important environmental, social and governance goals.
The company updated its current standing with a new Environmental & Social Responsibility Report on Tuesday, which covered mostly the year ended April 1 and consolidated what were two separate reports last year. VF has more than $11 billion in sales and employs more than 33,000 people.
Bracken Darrell, who took the reins as president and CEO in July, said in a statement: “In the face of ongoing challenges impacting the global business community, our employees continue to demonstrate resilience and determination in advancing our purpose to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. I’m impressed with the progress the company made in [fiscal year 2023], and we will remain focused on this important work as a key element of our overall business strategy going forward.”
Not that long ago, a new CEO in the midst of a major business turnaround might be expected to focus on financial results to the exclusion of almost everything else. But clearly sustainability and social goals are at least moving closer to the heart of business — and getting much more airplay.
“We continue to use our scale, influence and insights to benefit the lives of community members and workers throughout our global supply chain,” Darrell said in a letter that kicks off the report. “In FY23 alone, more than 170,000 people across seven countries were reached through VF’s Worker & Community Development program, and we continue to uphold our commitments to fundamental worker rights and health and safety standards with product suppliers.”
VF called out a number of highlights from the report, including:
An increase in representation with employees who are Black, Indigenous or people of color holding 19 percent of leadership positions in the U.S. in fiscal 2023, up from 18.1 percent in the prior year.
The Asia Pacific region launched its first chapter of the company’s Pride employee resource group, bringing the number of global VF resource group chapters to 23.
The Worker & Community Development program has achieved more than 80 percent of its goal to improve the lives of 1 million workers and their communities by fiscal 2026.
Seven VF brands in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region diverted roughly 96,000 kilograms of single-use packaging plastics away from landfills in fiscal 2023.
And VF’s use of recycled polyester increased to 40 percent in 2022, up from 36 percent the prior year, moving the company closer to its goal of 50 percent by fiscal 2026.
VF has been working with people from both within and outside its organization as it pushes its own evolution.
“We’ve established meaningful relationships with a wide range of stakeholders to help us determine the best approaches to make a positive impact across our business operations,” the company said in the report. “In FY23, VF participated in over 100 stakeholder engagements across a spectrum of key topics, from women’s rights to circularity.
“The stakeholders with whom we collaborate have a vested interest in how we operate,” VF said. “They’re our employees, investors, customers, suppliers, communities, consumers and others who regularly interact with VF. They also include organizations, such as nongovernmental organizations, that advocate for a healthy planet and better lives.”
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