Nordstrom is continuing to invest in its commitment to leave the world a better place than it found it. The upscale department store chain recently set its 2025 corporate social responsibility goals, which include commitments in the areas of environmental sustainability, specifically operations and product value chains; human rights to drive systemic change to ensure positive labor practices and women’s empowerment; and corporate philanthropy to support families in the communities it serves and organizations that make its communities stronger.
To discuss Nordstrom's corporate social responsibility efforts in further detail, Total Retail recently conducted an exclusive interview with Chelsey Evans, the company's sustainability lead and corporate social responsibility manager.
Total Retail: Nordstrom recently announced its 2025 corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. Why is CSR a focal point for Nordstrom as it plans for the future?
Chelsey Evans: For 119 years, our focus has been on our customers and how we deliver the best possible service to meet their expectations. That's why Nordstrom is continuing to work to reduce its impact on the environment, give back to the communities we serve, cultivate safe workplaces for the people who make our products, and strive to provide our employees with a great place to work. With our new goals and impact areas, we're taking additional steps to make faster progress on environmental sustainability as well as human rights and corporate philanthropy.
TR: Who within the organization is involved in the creation of the 2025 CSR goals? Do others outside the company (e.g., customers, suppliers, wholesale partners, etc.) have an influence on the 2025 goals?
CE: We have a team internally that drives this effort and, to make a lasting impact, it takes multiple people across all areas of Nordstrom to help deliver on these goals.
Specifically, for the development of our 2025 CSR goals, we worked with an external partner last year to help us ensure we prioritize the areas of our business where we can make the most impact. We spent time listening to customers, employees, company leaders, investors, sustainability experts and even brand partners to understand how we could improve our CSR efforts. Additionally, we worked and continue to work closely with organizations such as The Fashion Pact, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and CDP Supply Chains to develop goals that align with best practices within the industry.
As always, we listen to customer feedback to ensure that we're meeting their expectations.
TR: What are some of the 2025 CSR goals that Nordstrom has set?
CE: Our goals are focused on environmental sustainability, human rights and corporate philanthropy, with specific goals set around:
- climate change, circularity and the environmental impact of products and services;
- ethical working practices and women's empowerment; and
- customer engagement and cause marketing, corporate grant making, and employee engagement.
Our specific goals can be found here.
TR: For its 2025 CSR goals, Nordstrom has focused in on three core areas: environmental sustainability, human rights, and corporate philanthropy. Tell us why each of those areas is being targeted for improvement at Nordstrom.
CE: We took time to listen to all of our stakeholder groups as we developed our new strategy and our 2025 CSR goals. In some areas, we're continuing previous work, such as supporting human rights and women's empowerment for the people who work in our global supply chain. In other areas, we're taking on new challenges, such as circularity for packaging and textiles, and expanding the ways we support our employees when they give back. By getting specific about the impact we hope to make, we've been better able to integrate our goals and activities into teams across the business, which is helping us move faster.
TR: In addition to the 2025 CSR goals, Nordstrom recently reported the progress it has made towards reaching its 2020 goals. Can you give us a few highlights from the 2020 report?
CE: In 2019, we reached several milestones, including meeting or exceeding a number of the goals that we set for 2020. We surpassed our goal of sourcing 90 percent of our energy from renewables in deregulated markets where we have the flexibility to choose our own energy sources. We achieved 100 percent pay equity for employees and took additional steps to further empower women in our global supply chain. By the end of 2020, 20 percent of all Nordstrom Made products will be made in factories where we've implemented HERProject. We increased our investment in environmental sustainability by launching our Sustainable Style category and signaled our ongoing commitment by signing the G7 Fashion Pact.
TR: Given the challenges retailers have faced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how can CSR fit into a plan to help turn things around, both at Nordstrom as well as across the industry?
CE: These are topics that are increasingly becoming more and more important to our customers. We have an obligation to think beyond a single sale or interaction with a customer to ensure we're operating as a responsible company our customers, employees and communities can be proud of. Working on our CSR goals is creating new opportunities for collaboration with our brand partners, peers and other organizations to solve existing challenges with new ideas and innovation. It's only becoming more clear that we're all connected, and we know that working together is part of the solution as well.
Related story: Nordstrom Launches Recommerce Program Online and In-Store