How Home Depot and ANN Inc. Practice Social Responsibility

At the closing session of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City yesterday, executives from Home Depot and ANN Inc., parent company of Ann Taylor and LOFT, discussed the role social responsibility plays in their companies.

Fred Wacker, chief operating officer of the Home Depot Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the big-box retailer, said the brand was looking for a charitable outlet that was both helpful to others and cost effective. Framing Hope was formed in partnership with Good360, a nonprofit that teams with retailers to design and deliver product donation programs that meet corporate objectives. Home Depot stores across the country team up with local nonprofits, which are vetted by Good360, to donate building products. The donated products would otherwise be headed to landfills.

Framing Hope donated $150 million worth of products last year, with 1,171 Home Depot stores participating in the program. Those donated products have helped build over 1 million homes for low-income families.

Our goal is to give back to our communities while gaining shareholder value, Wacker said. According to a study from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, over a five-year period Home Depot has avoided paying for 7,000 truckloads of waste removal by donating its unused products rather than disposing of them. This equated to $2 million in savings for the brand, Wacker said. Donating the products produces a better return on investment than liquidating or disposing of them, he added.

In addition to the positive effect that Framing Hope has had on Home Depot’s bottom line, the program has had an impact on the brand’s store associates as well. It’s told them that senior management listens to them and acts upon what they hear, Wacker said. Home Depot has been so happy with its partnership with Good360 that it’s budgeted an additional $10 million for social programs in 2013.

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