Kathryn Caulfield, vice president – Global Corporate Communications & Corporate Responsibility, oversees internal, external and crisis communications; corporate issue management; corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability at The Clorox Company.
Caulfield joined Clorox in 2000 as manager – Corporate Communications and has subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility within the function. She assumed responsibility for corporate responsibility in 2009 and environmental sustainability in 2014. Previously, she spent most of her career within the fashion and retail clothing industry, including managing internal communications for Gap Inc. Caulfield is a frequent speaker on communication strategy, corporate responsibility and integrated reporting at conferences and academic institutions.
Christopher Skroupa: What is an integrated report and why has Clorox adopted this approach to reporting?
Kathryn Caulfield: An integrated report communicates how an organization’s business strategies and financial performance are connected to its environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and performance to create value. Several years ago, we learned that among the most important attributes key stakeholders considered in assessing the company’s reputation were corporate information and transparency, community contribution and presence, employee treatment, product and environmental sustainability and product value and innovation. We also learned we could enhance our reputation by improving understanding of our performance, particularly with respect to corporate information and transparency, community contribution and presence and product and environmental sustainability. It became clear we had an opportunity to enhance our reputation by more broadly communicating about our business and performance; integrated reporting presented a framework to achieve this objective.
Skroupa: What are the overall benefits of integrated reporting for a company, and how has Clorox benefited from creating integrated reports?
Caulfield: Overall, the process of producing an integrated report can help improve alignment and management of ESG performance across the organization. It can also help meet the evolving needs of today’s consumers, investors and other stakeholders who want to know about a company’s products or financial performance as well as what the company stands for, including its ESG track record. Integrated reporting brings these elements together.
For Clorox, our integrated report underscores our commitment to transparency. The report, which presents audited financial statements alongside third-party assurance of key nonfinancial metrics, has provided us with a means to communicate with stakeholders about our broad performance that is supported by credible data in a way that helps build understanding, trust and confidence in the company. Information in our report has also landed the company in places we hadn’t appeared before, such as being ranked among the top 50 companies on the 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings, and Corporate Responsibility magazine’s Top 100 list of most responsible companies. In many cases this type of recognition stems from publicly available information.
Skroupa: In what other ways does Clorox seek to communicate transparently with stakeholders?
Caulfield: Clorox was the first major consumer packaged goods company to launch a voluntary communication program in North America to make product ingredient information readily accessible and easy to understand so consumers can make more informed choices. This information is available on our “Ingredients Inside” website and mobile app, which provides the ingredients in the cleaning and disinfecting products we market in the U.S. and Canada, including fragrance components identified as potential allergens by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, an advisory board to the European Union.
Skroupa: How does corporate responsibility/ESG contribute to value creation?
Caulfield: Corporate responsibility/ESG strategies are best positioned to create value when integrated with business strategy and aligned to drive business results. Take, for instance, an integrated approach to making or improving products that considers consumer, environmental and financial value creation. Clorox did this in 2013 with the launch of concentrated Clorox® regular bleach, which provided consumers with improved product performance and an easier-to-use bottle, while annually saving 225,000 megawatt hours of electricity, 196 million gallons of water, 16 million pounds of paper and 10 million pounds of plastic. At the same time, it helped grow sales, improve margins and generate cost savings. In fact, in recent years, more than 40 percent of our sales growth has come from more sustainable products.
On June 19th, 2015, Skytop Strategies will present, “ESG Summit,” hosted at Nasdaq’s MarketSite in Times Square, New York. Continue the discussion with Kathryn Caulfield and 150 institutional shareholders, public company managers and capital markets experts at this full-day conference, designed to explore new ways of factoring ESG performance into cost of capital and company ratings. To inquire about attending, contact Victoria Billman at firstname.lastname@example.org.