Woman placing unwanted medications into a Walgreens drugstore safe medication disposal box

Engaging and collaborating with our stakeholders allows us to address the most material sustainable issues in our industry.

This dialogue provides us with a broad and diverse understanding of our stakeholders’ evolving priorities and the issues that are of utmost concern to them. Ultimately, this enables us to deliver products and services that make positive impacts throughout our lines of business.

Our external sustainability advisory panel, created in 2015 to identify sustainability topics that could be material to the brands or products throughout their respective life cycles, accomplished many things in fiscal 2016. In the past year the panel has been instrumental in helping to give us clear direction to a sustainability assessment covering our product brands such as No7, Botanics, Soap & Glory and Liz Earle. To read more about this panel’s assessment, please visit the Marketplace section of this report.

Stakeholders Engagement channels
Non-governmental organizations Donations and sponsorships, joint fundraising events, partnerships, in-kind support and volunteering initiatives, face-to-face meetings, formal feedback, critical friends
Shareholders and investors Regular dialogue and annual meeting
Government bodies and agencies Consultation responses at national and international levels, association membership, industry panels, public affairs outreach, site visits
Employees Performance management processes, employee engagement surveys and forums, union management forums and work councils, consultations, training, one-on-one meetings, Company and business communications, annual CSR report
Local communities Local business forums, regular and ad hoc meetings with local not-for-profit groups, public consultations, employee volunteering
Suppliers Supplier forums, one-on-one meetings, policy statements, site visits, supplier conferences, supplier audits
Customers (pharmacists, consumers, patients) Customer panels, focus groups, customer satisfaction surveys, direct feedback, conferences for pharmacists, pharmacist associations
Academics Face-to-face meetings, research and sustainability projects, guest-speaker slots, internships, logistical support, annual CSR report
Media Performance updates, media releases, interviews with senior management, annual CSR report

In fiscal 2016, we made a number of strides in sustainability based on our engagement with a range of stakeholders. For example:

Non-governmental organizations

Walgreens worked with The Humane Society of the United States, an animal protection group, and with The Humane League, a farm animal advocacy nonprofit, to create a cage-free egg policy in fiscal 2016. 

Walgreens has also continued its productive relationship with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. In addition to participating in quarterly dialogue, Walgreens is working closely with this organization to understand issues around ingredients used in the products it sells and produces, as well as to help ensure alignment with best sustainability practices in our industry.

We remained actively involved on the boards of a number of organizations. During fiscal 2016 our Co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay served as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), while our President of Pharmacy and Retail Operations Richard Ashworth served on the organization’s Retail Advisory Board. Co-Chief Operating Officer Ornella Barra was Chairman of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW) during the fiscal year. Over the course of the year, accomplishments with these organizations included working with NACDS to develop its CSR agenda, and supporting the IFPW Foundation’s CSR agenda, such as its partnership with the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which works with industry and governments to increase access to immunizations in poor countries.

Government bodies and agencies

Walgreens worked with state governments across the United States during fiscal 2016 on efforts to combat drug abuse and curb the misuse of medications by providing a year-round safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted medications and to make the lifesaving opioid antidote naloxone available without requiring a prescription.

In the USA, Walgreens, along with other corporate sponsors, in collaboration with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), and with participation from state and local chambers, city officials and other civic stakeholders, supported the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center’s Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for A New Economy. Focused on breaking through the current 34 percent recycling barrier in the United States, the project is intended to provide a scalable model for improving recycling and recovery rates in order to help communities, cities and businesses achieve their circular economy and sustainability goals. The project will be conducted in a phased approach beginning in January 2017.

In the UK, the Circular Economy Task Force is a government-endorsed, business-led group convened by Green Alliance; a charity and independent policy think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. We are a founding member of the Task Force through our legacy company Alliance Boots. A circular economy emphasizes reuse and durability, reducing waste and pollution, and renewable energy.

Over the past four years, the Circular Economy Task Force has made significant progress in driving policy and activity around more efficient use of resources in the UK. Its focus has been on providing analysis on the opportunities of the circular economy, and using this to advocate successfully for policy reviews on the harmonization and simplification of waste and recycling collection services.

Academic partnerships

The U.S.-wide reach of Walgreens and its access to communities make it a key collaborator in health studies.

In July 2016 Walgreens announced it will participate in an ambitious medical research program, the U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. Customers will be able to enroll in the program through Walgreens stores, clinics, website and mobile app. Participants will share health history and information about their lifestyle and environmental exposures to contribute to a landmark research effort. The program aims to engage at least one million participants in the USA to improve the ability of preventing and treating disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics.

Walgreens also announced in fiscal 2016 the results of a study developed in collaboration with the University of Chicago that suggest pharmacy interventions and benefit plan designs with low co-pays could be key factors in helping to improve adherence to statin (cholesterol) medications for patients living in minority communities. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities compared adherence rates for more than 300,000 patients focusing on those filling new prescriptions for statin medications at Walgreens pharmacies in neighborhoods with different racial makeup.

Other engagements

We continue to work closely with organizations and industry networks on a variety of issues. For example, we participate in the Consumer Goods Forum in two key ways. First, our chief executive, Stefano Pessina, serves on the organization’s board of directors. Second, a number of our people sit on various Consumer Goods Forum committees. In January 2016, the forum’s board approved a Social Resolution on Forced Labor, which states that members of the forum will strive to eradicate forced labor from their value chains and will continue not to tolerate forced labor within their own operations.

In addition to the resolution, the Consumer Goods Forum’s Social Sustainability Committee, which Walgreens Boots Alliance is part of, researched key drivers of forced labor in global supply chains and developed industry principles to counter these drivers. The forum’s member companies are working together to fine-tune and assure the adoption of the principles. We intend to report our progress against these commitments in future reports.
Photograph: Allison Shelley Photography

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