Believing in Better: Kohler CEO on Company’s First ESG Report
For the nearly 150 years that Kohler has been in business, the Company has always been guided by our founder John Michael Kohler’s principles of associate well-being, community and public service, ethics, and integrity.
As a fourth-generation Kohler and the CEO of Kohler Company, I carry these principles as an integral component of my leadership, and I believe that embedding them in our business strategy results in better lives for all of our stakeholders. That’s why I’m proud to share Believing In Better: Kohler’s Environmental, Social, and Governance Report, which for the first time used the framework of GRI Standards to report progress against clearly defined environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria that matter to our stakeholders and to me personally.
As a society, we continued to feel the impacts and uncertainty of an ongoing pandemic while also trying to more successfully improve racial and gender equity and more forcefully address climate change. At Kohler, we have always believed it is our responsibility to address societal challenges, and the realities of the past year have only reinforced the importance of our operating philosophy, Believing In Better: that our best can always be better—better for the lives we touch, better for our communities, better for our planet, and better for business.
To deliver on this promise, we actively engage with our associates, customers, consumers, suppliers, and partners to understand their needs and develop appropriate solutions to help solve them. We also look internally to see how we can better use our business to be stewards of progress to improve the planet, communities, and lives.
When it comes to protecting the planet, in 2008 we were one of the first companies to establish a net-zero goal across our operations and in the years since have been actively tracking and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste across operations while investing in renewable energy. We are expanding our clean energy management offering with the acquisition of Heila Technologies. Heila will become part of the KOHLER Power Group—a global leader in engines, power generation, and clean energy. We are stepping up our integration of ESG across all parts of our business and supply chain, committing to more stringent data gathering and increasing our transparency about our progress. For products, Kohler has been following the Design for Environment (DfE) process since 2014 to ensure our product manufacturing processes actively track and reduce emissions and resource use while being made from safer materials. This year we launched an internal dashboard to track the progress of DfE integration into new products to track progress toward our goal of achieving 100% of KOHLER®, STERLING®, and Mira brands incorporating DfE into new product development.
Last year we strengthened our voice as we publicly shared our beliefs in the role companies must play in addressing water challenges. We joined water industry leaders at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss the impact of water consumption on climate change and practical ways to reduce household water use through product innovation and technology. We also participated at the 2021 World Water Week conference to showcase innovative solutions to unsewered sanitation around the globe, including some of our work with key partners.
We would not be able to accomplish all that we do without our associates. Our people are at the heart of what we do and the reason why our continued efforts are so effective. As we look ahead, it is our people, our innovation, and our community that inspire us to keep working toward a better future for all people and the planet.