Avon CSR boss explains how employee engagement has helped it reach sustainability goals

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide

In the second of this two-part interview with Susan Arnot Heaney, executive director of corporate responsibility at Avon, we look at how the company has engaged its employees in sustainable and how it has served to reduce the overall carbon footprint.

“Education and engagement are important aspects of Avon's corporate responsibility commitment, and our efforts in sustainability as well as philanthropy and empowering women are points of pride for our people,”​ Arnot Heaney told Cosmetics Design in an exclusive interview.

This goal has been developed into the Hello Green Tomorrow program, a two-pronged affair designed to help Avon associates get involved in the company’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint, Arnot went on to explain.

The system enables Avon’s employees to get involved both in a professional capacity and on an entirely voluntary basis that concern the workplace, either directly or indirectly.

Susan Arnot Heaney, executive director, corporate sustainability, Avon Products

Bringing together the whole company with one goal

“The role of the environmental management team and many departments such as real estate, purchasing and
supply chain are committed to bringing our environmental commitment to life as part of their jobs,”​ said Arnot Heaney.

“Environmental goals and projects are part of their professional responsibility at Avon every day,”​ she added.

To firm up the message to its staff, Avon’s Hello Green Tomorrow program, a global initiative that encompasses everything from employee engagement to the reduction of greenhouse gases, includes locally-driven associate education and involvement worldwide.

“This has ranged from associate participation in local 'green' activities, such as park clean ups and tree plantings, to the institution of green practices in Avon facilities that are managed by a voluntary Avon Green Ambassador team,”​ Arnot Heaney explained.

“Separately, Avon educates and engages our 6.4 million independent sales representatives in our activities. Avon sales reps sell fundraising Hello Green Tomorrow products, and to date we have generated $3.5 million to restore the Atlantic Rain Forest of Brazil and the tropical forests of Indonesia.”

CSR report underlines success

And the proof of Avon’s sustainability drive is in statistics drawn from its most recent CSR report, with Arnot Heaney pointing out the fact that Absolute Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from global manufacturing and branch operations have been reduced by 17.6 per cent from 2005 baseline levels.

Likewise, Absolute Energy consumption the company’s manufacturing locations has been reduced 11 per cent from 2005 levels, while total water consumed at manufacturing locations has been reduced 27 per cent on an absolute basis from the 2005 level.

So where does it all end? Is there a point where there can be no more room for improvement without starting to impact the business model? On this topic Arnot Heaney is emphatic:

“It is a journey of constant improvement that never ends.  As long as Avon manufactures, markets and sells material things we will have an impact. The goal is to minimize our impact, maximise the good we do, and serve as an agent of positive change inside and outside the company.”

Susan Arnot Heaney will be a featured speaker at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​ , to be held in New York, May 17 – 19.

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