• Ornella Barra

    Q&A with Our ESG Committee Chair, Ornella Barra

Q&A with Our ESG Committee Chair, Ornella Barra

This is a significant year for WBA as Boots celebrates 175 years while Walgreens and Farmacias Benavides are 123 and 107 respectively. What is the secret to this longevity?

To understand this requires us to look back at where we started. Every day, I take inspiration from the incredible people who founded our company or who have shared their passion and vision over the years. From John Boot to Charles Walgreen, we have remained committed to providing trusted pharmacist support to bring affordable community healthcare to all.

Our vision today remains to be the leading partner in reimagining local healthcare and well-being. Our health-centered ESG strategy plays an integral role in our ambition. At the heart of that responsibility is delivering affordable, accessible and quality healthcare and we have always understood the power of partnerships to achieve this. We have many long-standing partnerships such as Vitamin Angels (globally and U.S.), Macmillan Cancer Support (UK), European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer – EORTC (Europe and beyond) and Fundación Alma (Mexico). Over the past eight years, we have donated $373 million1 to support the health and well-being of the communities we serve.

It is the dedication of our team members that brings these partnerships to life. They are on the front lines, and we thank them for their efforts.

Speaking of team members, what do you value most about their contribution?

Our people make us who we are: the service we give, the products we make, the positive impact we have; it is their desire to innovate and imagine the future that ensures we continue to move forward. Take, for example, our brands Liz Earle, Soap & Glory and 17 which have all achieved Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny approval, and, this year, following huge strides in packaging in 2022, No7 launched its most inclusive skin care range yet: Future Renew.

Creating a culture where innovation thrives has always been in our DNA; in 1934 Boots introduced the five-day working week and were early pioneers of extended education for young employees. Today, we believe that providing learning and development opportunities for our 331,000 team members is no less essential. Since launching in 2013, Walgreens University has provided training, leadership development and career advancement for team members at all levels.

My roots are in pharmacy, and with our experienced leaders, I am committed to fostering an environment for personal and professional growth for the long term.

Last year you set ambitious health equity goals. How have you performed?

We introduced goals on key ESG topics including reduction of carbon emissions and waste as well as driving our inclusive culture with a focus on women in leadership, supplier diversity, people of color and people with disabilities. I am pleased to confirm that we exceeded most of our goals2, including a nearly 3 percentage point increase in U.S. team members identifying as having a disability and continued strong progress to reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent from our 2019 baseline. I invite you to read more in this Report.

What does the future hold for ESG at WBA?

Our health-centered ESG strategy remains as relevant today as it always has been. In 2023 we completed our first forward looking double materiality assessment which, once again, reinforced our focus supporting the health and well-being of people, patients and customers, communities and planet. It is my continued pleasure to Chair the WBA ESG Committee and I would like to thank the WBA Board, my fellow committee members, our teams and our incredible partners around the world for their unwavering commitment.

Ornella Barra 
Chief Operating Officer, International and Chair of the Environmental, Social and Governance Committee



1Cash and Non-cash valuation of community contributions. Click here for further details.

2U.S. People of color goal partially achieved.