Some of Polo's iconic sweaters.

Ralph Lauren Corp. is making progress on its Design the Change strategy centered around advancing its environmental and social impact efforts.

This year, the company strengthened its commitment to climate by establishing a net zero goal with a clear roadmap to achieve this target. It also increased its transparency with greater diversity data, climate data and factory data disclosures, according to its new fiscal year 2021 Global Citizenship & Sustainability Report.

Beginning in fiscal 2022, Ralph Lauren said it will incorporate key environmental, social and governance metrics into executive remuneration.

“The convergent of the global pandemic, climate crisis and call to action to dismantle systemic racism has been a catalyst for the business community to focus and accelerate its progress toward a more equitable and sustainable future,” said Patrice Louvet, president and chief executive officer of Ralph Lauren Corp. “We embrace that call to action wholeheartedly at Ralph Lauren, demonstrated by the progress our teams have made in the last year — including our increased transparency, climate goal and integration of ESG metrics into executive remuneration. As we look to the future, we will continue identifying ways to accelerate this work through partnership and collaboration that can deliver positive impact at scale.”

Patrice Louvet

Patrice Louvet  Richard Phibbs

Working toward its goal of reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its operations and supply chain by 30 percent compared to fiscal 2020 levels, Ralph Lauren has established a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The company published a Net Zero Commitment Statement detailing how it expects to achieve that target. In fact, these actions are in line with Ralph Lauren’s pledge to the climate goals identified in the Paris Agreement, and build on the steps the company has already taken to reduce its carbon footprint throughout the value chain.

Part of that is Ralph Lauren’s circularity strategy and its three new goals, which include: securing Cradle to Cradle certification for five iconic products by 2025, establishing resale and recycling experiences for consumers by 2022, and producing 100 percent recycled cotton products of high quality by 2025.

In addition to recycled cotton, the company plans to use 100 percent recycled polyester by 2025 and 100 percent Responsible Wool Standard certified or recycled wool by 2025. It also says 100 percent of viscose will be sourced and verified through CanopyStyle audits by 2025; 100 percent of leather will be traceable and verified to animal welfare and land management standards, or covered by impact incentives, and 100 percent of its tanned leather will be Leather Working Group certified by 2025. Continuing its material efforts, Ralph Lauren said by 2023, it will be using 100 percent Responsible Down Standard or Traceable Down Standard certified down and feathers, and by 2025, 100 percent Sustainable Fibre Alliance certified (or equivalent) or recycled cashmere.

Another 2025 goal focuses on packaging. According to the company, 100 percent of its packaging materials will be recyclable, reusable or sustainability sourced by then. Through ralphlauren.com, the reduced packaging option gives customers the ability to have plastic or paper inserts, hangers, garment bags, promotional materials and paper invoices removed from their orders. In fiscal-year 2021, they removed and recycled all of the poly bags from reduced packaging orders, which represented 15 percent of orders placed through ralphlauren.com, versus 12 percent for fiscal-year 2020.

Ralph Lauren is also launching Color on Demand, as reported. The fabric processing aims to deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system. The company is also continuing its partnership with World Wildlife Fund completing its first global water footprint measurement and setting targets to help it reach its goal of 20 percent total water use reduction and increase community water access. The company, and the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, will make $20 million in combined charitable contributions in fiscal-year 2021.

 

Ralph Lauren introduces Color on Demand, seeking to revolutionize how fashion industry dyes cotton.

Ralph Lauren introduced Color on Demand, seeking to revolutionize how fashion industry dyes cotton.  courtesy shot.

Furthering its focus on transparency, the company has added the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures Index to this year’s report and discloses new carbon and water footprints. In the report, Ralph Lauren also introduces expanded factory disclosures, which provide more clarity on the company’s operations by listing tier-one factories that represent roughly 90 percent of its apparel and home textile business volume.

When it comes to diversity, the company wants at least 20 percent of its Global Leadership Team to reflect underrepresented racial and ethnic groups by 2023. The fiscal-year 2021 report includes expanded workforce diversity data with additional gender and U.S. race and ethnicity breakdowns, including the company’s board, global leadership team and a breakdown of corporate and non-corporate employees.

As companies place greater emphasis on efforts around representation and inclusion, more of them are making that a critical part of leaders’ performance evaluations. The ESG metrics that will be incorporated into Ralph Lauren’s executive remuneration will include the company’s advancements on its commitments to protect the environment and progress on its efforts to deepen diversity and inclusion across its workforce.

 

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