Shaw’s Diana Rosenberger talks sustainability

June 06, 2018

“What we purchase matters. Not only do we as individuals wield power in our choices and purchases, but companies have a big part to play as well.”

That’s according to Diana Rosenberger, global sourcing manager – sustainability at Shaw Industries and one of FCNews’ top 10 difference-makers in the industry. Rosenberger helped Shaw create a legally enforceable, easy-to-read, sustainable sourcing policy that would be integrated into Shaw Industries’ “standard terms and conditions of purchase.” She also brought the Ten Principles of UN Global Compact to Shaw to use as the backbone of the company’s new sustainable sourcing policy. In fact, her efforts lead to Shaw becoming an official signatory in late 2017—a move that brought external credibility to the company’s new sustainable sourcing policy and brings even greater transparency into Shaw’s supply chain by requiring disclosures about the ingredients that go into the products the company produces and sells.

FCNews caught up with Rosenberger on the eve of her address to the Sustainable Brands conference on June 6. Her presentation delves into how purchasing actions can speak loudly about the kinds of values, safety and manufacturing methods we—people and companies—endorse.

Q. It is often said that everybody wants to be green, but nobody wants to pay for it. How do you respond to such objections by some clients?
A. It’s incumbent upon us—as manufacturers and suppliers of products—to find cost-effective, sustainable solutions. It’s our goal for sustainability to be a standard part of our operations at no added cost to the buyer. At Shaw, we fundamentally believe that everyone should have access to safe, sustainable products for their homes and workspaces. We must clearly communicate the value of those attributes and how they help those buying our products align with their priorities to drive market demand.

Q. Sustainability efforts extend beyond the primary flooring manufacturers, trickling down the supply chain to raw materials and service providers. Given the importance of “chain of custody” issues in the flooring industry, how are you working with suppliers to ensure environmental compliance?
A. Shaw has rigorous processes in place related to chain of custody and transparency across our portfolio of products. Having clearly defined expectations, robust audit processes and trusting supplier relationships helps ensure we’re not only complying with legal requirements but fostering partnerships that spur innovation.

Q. Sustainability is seeing a shift in focus from traditional environmental impacts related to a company’s operations to one that includes a focus on people and community. What do you believe started this shift? Is there another potential shift waiting to happen?
A. We’re seeing greater attention being paid to wellness in the built environment. That means ensuring products are safe for people and the planet, and that the spaces in which we live and work are actively promoting health and wellness. People spend the majority of their time indoors, and living a healthy, balanced life is increasingly important to people. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that there is more research to better understand the correlation between the built environment and health and wellbeing or our commercial and residential customers are more focused on creating a healthy home or workspace.

Thanks to the commitment Shaw made to Cradle to Cradle two decades ago, material health has long been the focus of our sustainability and innovation efforts. And over the past few years, acoustics has become particularly important. We expect to see continued focus in these areas.

Q. What does the UN Global Compact mean to Shaw? Why was it important for the company to sign?
A. The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, which are focused on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, align with Shaw’s values and operations. Signing a globally recognized standard better allows us to communicate those values and priorities to suppliers, customers and others better than our standalone, Shaw-created documents did. As we look to fulfill our corporate vision of creating a better future, the more we can do to bring others along with us in the journey, the better for all.

Q. What were some of the responses Shaw received from the supply chain after implementing the new Sustainable Sourcing Policy?
A. In short, suppliers have expressed that they prefer Shaw’s new Sustainable Sourcing Policy to our previous approach. Shaw’s sustainable sourcing efforts previously consisted of a standalone supplier guide that defined our expectations of suppliers with regards to environmental protection, social fairness, ethical behavior and identified desired disclosure around identified chemicals of concern.

Often when we presented our own Shaw-authored supplier guide, we were met with some resistance, particularly as suppliers wrestled with responding to similar requests from multiple customers looking for slightly different commitments or information. It became clear that aligning with a globally recognized framework could create greater impact. Incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, which Shaw signed in late 2017, into our sourcing policy was helpful in that regard.

The policy also advances our efforts to improve material health by requiring transparency and disclosure around identified chemicals of concern in alignment with our commitment to Cradle to Cradle principles.

Meeting with our suppliers in person affords us the opportunity to explain not only what we were looking for but why we have such a deep commitment to material safety and optimization, our alignment with Cradle to Cradle principles and what we need to document that effort.

Based upon those interactions in the three to four months since the new Sustainable Sourcing Policy was introduced, I think we’ve created a better foundation for continued collaboration and innovation with our suppliers.

Q. As global sourcing manager – sustainability, what specifically are you doing to bring Shaw’s commitment to sustainable purchasing to life?
A. Everything Shaw buys sends a signal to the market about our support for the values behind the products and companies from which we buy. In my role as global sourcing manager – sustainability, I work daily to bring the company’s commitment to sustainable purchasing to life—to influence markets and our supply chain with the significant purchasing power of a $6 billion global company. Shaw’s global sourcing team engages with people at Shaw and with our external partners to help ensure that no matter where in the world a product or ingredient is sourced or made, it is held to the same high standards that Shaw sets for itself.

 

For more from Shaw’s Rosenberger, visit shawinc.com/Newsroom/Blog/A-Ripple-Can-Lead-To-A-Wave-Of-Change.

 

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