Engaging and collaborating with our stakeholders helps Walgreens Boots Alliance address the most relevant sustainability issues in our industry. In addition to working with a global network of key external organizations, we also respond to internal stakeholders and suppliers.
These dialogues provide us with a broad and diverse understanding of our stakeholders’ evolving priorities and the issues that most concern them. Ultimately, this helps enable us to deliver products and services that make positive impacts throughout our lines of business.
We identify relevant stakeholders in a variety of ways. Stakeholders impacted by our business and who influence our business – such as customers, stockholders and nonprofit groups – frequently approach us with issues. We also engage stakeholders proactively on issues where we feel we can have significant impact, such as in the health and wellbeing arena, and also on issues where we are aware of evolving societal expectations.
Among the issues raised by stakeholders during fiscal 2017 were the sale of tobacco in our retail pharmacies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, our potential to help combat the opioid abuse crisis in the U.S., our potential to help affect health treatment outcomes through our pharmacies, our potential to impact the health of military veterans, the transparency and traceability of ingredients such as palm oil in our products, the protection of our customers’ data privacy and security, collaboration with institutions and other businesses to drive higher recycling rates in the U.S., and our corporate governance.
The external Advisory Panel for Sustainability was created in 2015 and is comprised of eight independent experts from industry, civil society and corporate governance who help us to identify sustainability topics in our product brands including No7, Botanics, Soap & Glory and Liz Earle.
In its fiscal 2017 progress report
the panel said that we made significant progress during fiscal 2017 and encouraged us to further refine and deliver on our sustainability goals, set out a road map of progress and develop a culture that enables the delivery of a multi-year program for responsible sourcing.
Health and wellbeing research
The Walgreens Health Analytics Research and Reporting team partners with academic institutions and scientific researchers on numerous outcomes studies, with a goal of helping to improve patient care while lowering healthcare costs.
Access to healthcare, patient experience, adherence to prescriptions and clinical outcomes, healthcare costs, vaccinations and digital health are all important issues for patients and communities. Walgreens is dedicated to providing value to healthcare and strives to pursue the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Triple Aim” Initiative, which is to lower healthcare costs, improve care quality and increase patient satisfaction. More than 50 Walgreens outcomes studies from the past six years can be found on the Center for Health & Wellbeing Research
Opioid addiction crisis
About 2 million Americans have a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain medications, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walgreens expanded its response to this public health crisis in fiscal 2017, working closely with a range of stakeholders, including state and local governments, and regulators. Read more about our actions to help prevent opioid addiction.
Walgreens reviewed the issue of tobacco sales and during fiscal 2017 engaged with stockholders and other stakeholders who have petitioned us to discontinue sales of tobacco in our retail pharmacies in the U.S.
We firmly believe that the most effective step we can take to help smokers quit is to address the root causes of smoking. We believe we can influence people to quit smoking by connecting them with some of the available cessation programs.
Walgreens smoking cessation efforts were expanded in fiscal 2017 and include three main areas: a digital platform, trained pharmacists and an incentives and loyalty program.
Walgreens worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the largest organization of combat veterans in the U.S., and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to advance and improve veterans’ mental health and wellbeing by expanding the reach and awareness of mental health educational tools and resources among veterans.
Walgreens Boots Alliance engages with numerous stakeholders regarding the traceability and sustainable sourcing of palm oil – which is used in certain food, beauty and personal care products and pharmaceuticals - as it develops processes to further reduce deforestation impacts of the ingredient. Our focus during fiscal 2017 was to evaluate processes in place at Boots UK, which is recognized for its use of certified palm oil, and to acquire tools that our Walgreens U.S. retail pharmacy business will use to track palm oil in products it sells.
We have received feedback that stockholders want more disclosure regarding CSR Governance. For this reason, we expanded our CSR Governance disclosure in our Notice of 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Proxy Statement
. We have also expanded the CSR governance information included in this report, on page 7. During 2017 the Board of Directors amended the Nominating and Governance Committee’s charter to clarify its role in reviewing sustainability and CSR and assess our management of risks in those areas. This clarification was based, in part, upon stockholder and other stakeholder feedback we received in 2017.
Industry organizations and networks
Walgreens Boots Alliance leadership remains actively involved on the boards of a number of industry organizations and networks that have CSR agendas that we support. During fiscal 2017 our Co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay served as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and Co-Chief Operating Officer Ornella Barra served on the board of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW).
Our chief executive, Stefano Pessina, serves on the board of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global association of retailers and manufacturers that promotes sustainability initiatives as part of its mission. Walgreens Boots Alliance has pledged its commitment to the CGF’s resolutions and commitments on environmental sustainability, social sustainability and health and wellness.
Walgreens Boots Alliance is a sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for a New Economy, a place-based pilot project to demonstrate a replicable and scalable model for achieving a more circular economy through innovative recycling and recovery solutions.
Photo credit: Kansas City VA Medical Center/Released