Statement from Ornella Barra, Co-Chief Operating Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. Chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee

Ornella Barra headshot

How did WBA adapt its environmental, social and governance priorities in the pandemic?

COVID-19 has had a profound and, in many cases, tragic impact on our communities, our customers and our people. We have played a crucial role in society, as patients, consumers and businesses depend on us for medications, expert information and care, essential items purchased and delivered in a safe environment and increasingly for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. This global health crisis has underscored our existing approach to sustainability - which is centered in healthcare - and elevated our top CSR issue of healthcare access.

I am proud of the dynamic way we stepped up to make a difference during this unprecedented emergency, engaging with our employees and our external stakeholders to understand their needs and then responding with agility.

We have stayed true to our key CSR areas: partnering with community organizations to improve societal health and well-being, protecting the planet, doing business fairly and with integrity, and fostering a safe and inclusive workplace.

What were some important achievements for WBA as a corporate citizen during fiscal 2020?

While it was essential to adapt to rapid change, we are also proud to report that we remained on track with our long-term commitments, such as working with our charity partners and with cancer organizations to help people in need, managing and reducing our waste and emissions and enhancing certain employee benefits during difficult times.

We made sure our efforts were relevant and safe during COVID-19. For example, for Red Nose Day, we quickly pivoted to create digital red noses, raising more than $15 million, and allowing customers to participate in a safe way. In the UK, to extend support for people living with cancer during lockdown, we made Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacist consultations available digitally, free of charge.

We continued our work with cancer organizations, raising $10.8 million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and Susan G. Komen in the first year of a five-year commitment to raise $25 million. We have helped provide life-changing vitamins to more than 250 million women and children around the world through our partnership with Vitamin Angels.

What CSR activities inspired you during fiscal 2020? 

It was so stirring to see the innovative ways our people and our businesses responded to the pandemic, doing their part, helping communities and making a difference. There are numerous examples in the Our Response to COVID-19 section and elsewhere throughout this report. 

I am grateful to all of our pharmacists for their dedication and caring, to everyone who works on the front lines at our stores, and to the staff at our warehouses and distribution centers who fulfilled their mission to deliver essential public goods and services in an exemplary manner.

What have you and WBA learned from the racial equity movement?

I was struck by the passion of the movement in the U.S., and around the world, after the tragic killing of George Floyd. WBA leadership set up Town Halls to listen to our communities and our employees. I have learned that even though we can be proud of our long history of work
on diversity and inclusion, we must do more to advance racial equity. This applies to us as an employer and as a healthcare provider. 

We are absolutely committed to being a catalyst for change both within our company and in the communities where we operate.

My heartfelt thank you to everyone who is on this journey with us, working to be caring and responsive corporate citizens.

Ornella Barra
Co-Chief Operating Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
Chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee