The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How UPS promotes employee development

Case study: How UPS promotes employee development

UPS is a global leader in logistics, providing a broad range of solutions that transport packages and freight, facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Once it has successfully recruited new employees, UPS retains them by promoting from within, offering a range of continuous training and talent development opportunities, and identifying employee potential early to accelerate career development.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Progress Report by UPS published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

Layout 1Abstract

Focused on ongoing employee development, UPS seeks to help UPSers hone the skills needed to excel in their roles  Tweet This! and achieve their long-term career goals. In order to promote employee development UPS took action to:

  • implement an Education Assistance programme
  • evaluate employee performance

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Progress Report UPS identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, data privacy, workforce diversity, digital and physical asset security. Among these, promoting employee development stands out as a key material issue for UPS.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards           

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups UPS engages with:  

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Customers ·      Customer Satisfaction Survey

·      Quarterly Business Reviews and regular meetings

·      Market research


·      Social media

·      UPS-sponsored events

·      UPS drivers

Active and Retired


·      UPS Culture Survey

·      Business Resource Groups

·      Daily prework communications meetings

·      Health & Safety Committees

· and UPSers Connect

·      Social media

·      Union representatives

·      Joint labour-management committees

·      Town Hall meetings

Policymakers and Government Officials


·      Global advocacy and relationship building

·      Multifaceted thought leadership strategy

·      Facility visits and targeted outreach

·      Collaborative partnerships



·      Investor conferences

·      Quarterly earnings communications

·      Shareholder meeting

·      Annual report

·      Proxy statement

·      Ratings and rankings

·      Investor website



·      The UPS Foundation

·      Employee Volunteer Programme

·      Community involvement committees

·      Humanitarian relief and resilience activities



·      Regular dialogue

·      Topic-specific conferences and events



·      Top Supplier meetings

·      Supplier Diversity Strategy, including conferences, events, training, and other programming

·      Research and development of alternative vehicle technologies

·      One-on-one meetings with suppliers, including assessments and reviews

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics UPS engaged with its stakeholders through structured interviews.

What actions were taken by UPS to promote employee development?

In its 2019 Sustainability Progress Report UPS reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee development:

  • Implementing an Education Assistance programme
  • Through the Education Assistance programme UPS helps its people finance their education through one of the more generous tuition reimbursement programmes in the marketplace. Students can use up to $25,000 for their education and attend school while working part-time or full-time at UPS. This is an important recruiting and retention tool. Since the programme began in 1997, UPS has invested in the college tuition of more than 300,000 employees, including more than 13,000 in 2019. When it comes to ongoing development, UPS focuses on a more self-directed development model in which UPSers and their managers collaborate to determine the most beneficial training programmes and development opportunities on an individual basis. Training and development opportunities include constructive feedback, coaching, and counselling from managers and co-workers. Employees receive formal and informal development delivered through live and virtual classrooms, on-the-job training, committee participation, and special assignments. Additionally, self-development opportunities are available around the clock through an extensive eLearning library in UPS University, an enterprise-wide learning management system and component of UPS’s global talent management system, My Talent Centre. In 2019, UPS invested more than $1 billion in training programmes, and UPSers dedicated more than 17 million hours in training at an average investment-per-learner of approximately $1,190.
  • Evaluating employee performance
  • UPS’s management teams prepare and identify meaningful career development plans throughout the year, utilising performance discussions, assessments on leadership skills and UPS values, and constant feedback. To develop plans for future growth, management employees identify areas of interest, aspirations, and opportunities for career progression. Through regular discussions, assessments, and feedback, employees determine their strengths and opportunities, and are encouraged to focus on career goals. In 2017, UPS embarked on an enterprise-wide initiative involving the redesign of many talent management processes and the implementation of a newly integrated technology platform. This initiative included comprehensive behaviour training on managing performance and career development to help effectively execute the new processes. In 2019, 99 percent of women and men in senior and middle management roles in the U.S. received regular performance reviews.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs

2) Disclosure 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews


Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:

Disclosure 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP



1) This case study is based on published information by UPS, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


Note to UPS: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.