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Engaging with our stakeholders ensures that we understand and seek to address their concerns, and learn from their insight and experience. This meaningful, in depth dialogue provides us with a broad and diverse understanding of our stakeholders’ evolving priorities and interests, ultimately helping us to deliver products and services which positively impact the wellbeing of communities.

Through this dialogue we identify and prioritize our stakeholder audiences, deepen our understanding of their expectations and interests, and undertake a variety of engagement channels, some of which we have outlined below. We especially focus on those stakeholders who are directly impacted by our diverse operations.

Stakeholders Engagement channels
Non-governmental organizations Donations and sponsorships, joint fundraising events, partnerships, in-kind support and volunteering initiatives, face-to-face meetings, formal feedback, critical friends
Shareholders and investors Regular dialogue and annual meeting
Government bodies and agencies Consultation responses at national and international levels, association membership, industry panels, public affairs outreach, site visits
Employees Performance management process, employee engagement surveys and forums, union management forums and work councils, consultations, training, one-on-one meetings,Company and business communications, annual CSR report
Local communities Local business forums, regular and ad hoc meetings with local not-for-profit groups, public consultations, employee volunteering
Suppliers Supplier forums, one-on-one meetings, policy statements, site visits, supplier conferences and supplier audits
Customers (pharmacists, consumers, patients) Customer panels, focus groups, customer satisfaction surveys, direct feedback, conferences for pharmacists, pharmacist associations
Academics Face-to-face meetings, research and sustainability projects, guest-speaker slots, internships, logistical support, annual CSR report
Media Performance updates, media releases, interviews with senior management, annual CSR report

An externally facilited advisory panel for sustainability was created in July 2015 to support matters relating to sustainability, including the sustainability of brands such as No7, Botanics, Soap & Glory and Liz Earle.

The panel identifies sustainability topics that could be material to the brands or products throughout their respective lifecycles, including for example raw material sourcing issues. In conjunction with business representatives recommendations are made for consideration and potential improvement.

Ornella Barra, who leads our CSR program, is a member of the Business in the Community (BITC), International Leadership Team and BITC’s International Ambassador. BITC is a London-based responsible business network. Her position enables her to share our Company’s CSR experiences, while learning of other CSR developments and initiatives across other international businesses and platforms.

Our businesses are also shaping their activities to meet their specific needs and undertaking national, regional and local engagement. Walgreens is an active member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Sustainability Initiative. RILA’s Retail Sustainability Initiative (RSI) engages retail sustainability, CSR, energy and environmental compliance executives in the USA on an industry-wide basis to collaborate, share best practices and to communicate their efforts to critical stakeholders for review, feedback and improvements.

Walgreens participates in a School of Pharmacy Deans seminar and diversity program which brings one-third of the USA’s Deans of pharmacy schools to the Walgreens support office to discuss issues and new developments in the practice of pharmacy. In addition, the Company has donated more than $1million annually to the nation's pharmacy schools through the Walgreens Pharmacy School Diversity Initiative, which aims to to improve diversity among pharmacy students.

Stakeholder dialogue is also important in ensuring that our businesses continue to seek to meet and exceed best practices. We regularly seek advice through our ‘critical friends’ (individuals or organizations that offer us constructive advice on CSR matters) which we then consider and incorporate where relevant. For example, Forum for the Future is an independent non-profit organization working globally with businesses, governments and other organizations to solve complex sustainability challenges. Boots UK has been working with them for a number of years as a member of their network, and our Global Brands cross-divisional function works with them on a number projects related to our product brands.

More recently, Boots UK engaged with Forum for the Future on a sustainable innovation strategy. This includes projects such as ‘Bathroom of the Future’ whereby Boots UK is working collaboratively with a number of organizations to address issues around flushable products.

Another example of our collaborative effort to solve global issues is our relationship with WWF-UK (formerly the World Wildlife Fund). Boots UK have a very long relationship with WWF-UK, including participation since 1995 in the Global Forest and Trade Network, a WWF-led industry network. The network is committed to producing and purchasing forest products from well-managed forests and to supporting independent, credible certification of sustainable forest management worldwide. Additionally, Boots UK is currently a supporter of the WWF Forest Campaign which aims to reform the EU Timber Regulation to prevent the import of illegally harvested timber products into the EU and make responsible forest trade the norm.

These examples of our stakeholder engagement enable us to better understand the material issues we face and help ensure that our CSR activities are targeted, appropriate and impactful.

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