Changing Tomorrow’s Story

Today we launched our fifth annual citizenship report. We have embedded citizenship in our culture since my father founded the firm in 1952 and, five years ago, we committed to take an even more robust citizenship journey. We formed a dedicated citizenship team, set aspirational goals and began the ongoing work of engaging our stakeholders in the journey.

Today, I’m pleased to report that global citizenship is becoming increasingly aligned with our corporate strategy. We’ve achieved several key milestones and we’re integrating a citizenship mindset into everything we do. I’m proud of everything Edelman individuals and teams have done around the world to get us to this point. They truly are helping us change tomorrow’s story.

A few highlights from fiscal year 2015 (FY15):

Metrics and Recognition

  • C-Score – Every Edelman office contributed to a global Citizenship Score, or C-Score, of 8.2 of a possible 10, above and beyond our goal of reaching 8.0 in the first full year of the scoring process. By operationalizing citizenship through this tool, our offices establish local goals, set priorities and monitor progress.
  • CDP – We completed our first CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) response in FY15 and submitted it in July 2015, providing three years of carbon data from Edelman’s hub offices which comprise nearly two-thirds of our emissions.
  • Ecovadis – Edelman earned a silver designation in this external measurement of our citizenship approach and performance.
  • Carbon Trust Standard – Our London office was among the first businesses in the U.K. to get certified to this voluntary standard, which recognizes performance and commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.

Engaging Our People

  • Community Service – Employees donated more than 32,000 hours to professional and general volunteer service. While this fell short of our ambitious goal to provide 40,000 hours, it represents a 41% increase over last year.
  • Training – Employees recorded over 157,000 hours of online and in-person training in FY15 – nearly 29 hours of training per employee.
  • Networking Groups – We launched a new affinity group, Edelman Equal, focused on LGBT employees and their allies, and committed to three more groups for FY16: African-American, Hispanic and veterans.

Responding to Stakeholder Input

  • Sustainable Office Operations – Our annual global citizenship survey revealed that half of our employees felt the company was not doing enough to operate our offices sustainably. We convened an environmental working group that is developing and piloting recommendations related to employee commuting, recycling and green meetings, among others, in 24 offices.
  • Health and Wellness – Employees told us that health and wellness is a priority, so we began a global initiative to determine which programs already exist across our network and make global policy recommendations for employee well-being.
  • Sustainable Purchasing – Feedback from our clients and other stakeholders has highlighted the importance of developing a sustainable purchasing strategy and supplier diversity policy. In FY14, we formed a working group to investigate options for addressing these issues. In FY15 we started to develop an action plan with a clear scope, objectives, requirements and potential solutions. We expect to start developing phase 1 in the second half of FY16, with an initial focus on supplier diversity in the U.S.

Since assuming this role five years ago, it has become even more apparent that citizenship is a must-do, not a nice-to-do. Back in 2010, the market was just beginning to signal that citizenship is an essential function. Today, it is core to our clients — and to our own business. Even so, we’ve learned that citizenship is about evolution, not revolution. We are most successful when we focus on a few priority initiatives, monitor them closely and report our progress transparently.

Moving forward, we want to build on our momentum. While we have begun changing tomorrow’s story with all we have accomplished to date, we still have much more to do. I hope you will continue to be part of our journey.

John Edelman is managing director of Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility.