Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is a global leader in retail and wholesale pharmacy, with a presence in more than 25 countries and a pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution network with more than 400 distribution centres. Through charitable partnerships around the world, WBA empowers young people to reach their potential and step up as leaders in their communities. Tweet This!
This case study is based on the 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report by WBA 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.
WBA supports programmes that directly impact youth worldwide, works with partners to create new programmes and raises funds for organisations with demonstrated track records of impact. In order to empower young people across the globe WBA took action to:
- address children’s mental wellbeing
- support Red Nose Day
- partner with ME to WE Foundation
- collaborate to provide vaccines
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With this case study you will see:
- Which are the most important impacts (material issues) WBA has identified;
- How WBA proceeded with stakeholder engagement, and
- What actions were taken by WBA to empower young people across the globe
What are the material issues the company has identified?
In its 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report WBA identified a range of material issues, such as access to affordable and quality healthcare, product safety, consumer health education and marketing, employee health, safety and wellbeing, data privacy and security. Among these, empowering young people across the globe stands out as a key material issue for WBA.
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:
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 WBA engages with:
To identify and prioritise material topics WBA engaged with its stakeholders through the following channels:
|Stakeholder Group||Method of engagement|
|Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)
|· At a minimum, quarterly meetings with key charity partners
· Formal yearly feedback with key charity partners
· Regular and ad-hoc meetings, as well as conference participation with NGOs; frequency varies from business to business and from group to group
|Stockholders, investors, lenders
|· Annual stockholders meeting
· Frequent dialogue through WBA’s investor relations team
· Participation in three investor conferences during fiscal 2019
· Annual submission of CDP Climate Change questionnaire
|Government bodies and agencies
|· Regular meetings with government agencies
· Weekly or more frequent dialogue with membership associations
· Consultation responses at national and international levels
· Quarterly industry panels
|· Annual employee performance reviews/appraisals
· Quarterly and/or annual employee feedback surveys, varies from business to business
· Ethics, safety, compliance, development and other training – frequency varies from business to business and from role to role
· Daily Company and business communications through email, intranet and bulletin boards
· Quarterly town hall meetings with senior leadership
|· Annual supplier conferences including annual conference on ethical sourcing with suppliers in Asia
· Quarterly joint business plans meetings with selected suppliers
|· Face-to-face bi-annual meetings
· Regular guest-speaker slots
· Presentations at scientific meetings several times a year
|· Daily, through WBA’s retail pharmacies and CSR initiatives
· Annual campaigns with charity partners
· Daily response to issues raised on social media
|Customers (pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmacists, consumers, patients)
|· Always-on Walgreens and Boots UK customer satisfaction surveys
· Most weekdays, through WBA’s corporate website, business websites
· Daily, through social media
· Daily, through WBA’s retail pharmacies and CSR initiatives
|Media||· Media releases and social media most weekdays
· Quarterly streaming of earnings call with analysts; streaming of executive participation in investor conferences
· Media interviews on an ad-hoc basis
· Submissions for CSR awards and recognition programmes
· Health education and awareness campaigns on social media
|· Ad-hoc meetings and regular dialogue through membership organisations|
In its 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report WBA reports that it took the following actions for empowering young people across the globe:
- Addressing children’s mental wellbeing
- Boots UK teamed up with BBC Children in Need in fiscal 2019 to address children’s mental wellbeing. In addition, Boots UK and Boots Opticians customers and employees raised more than £1.1 million ($1.4 million) for BBC Children in Need’s annual campaign, bringing the total to £12.7 million ($20.0 million) raised over 15 years to support projects across the UK that focus on disadvantaged children and young people.
- Supporting Red Nose Day
- During fiscal 2019, Walgreens raised more than $28 million through customer purchases of Red Noses, and customer, employee and supplier contributions. Since 2015 Walgreens has raised more than $100 million for Red Nose Day, supporting programmes that provide health and other services to children in need in the U.S. and around the world.
- Partnering with ME to WE Foundation
- In fiscal 2019, Walgreens sold more than 800,000 ME to WE products, generating more than $194,000 to support WE programs. Walgreens and ME to WE Foundation launched a new initiative called WE Teachers, which provides America’s educators with free resources to help them and their students succeed in the classroom. WE Teachers includes free online teacher training on issues such as bullying and mental health, and WE Teachers awards, where consumers nominate deserving educators to receive $500 Walgreens gift cards toward the purchase of school supplies. Across WBA, the company also continued its sponsorship of WE Day youth celebrations in the UK and U.S., which have reached some 319,000 youth and educators since 2014. Additionally, Walgreens and nonprofit Vitamin Angels have supported more than 200 million women and children in the U.S. and around the world through their six-year partnership to improve child and maternal health.
- Collaborating to provide vaccines
- Walgreens and the United Nations (UN) Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign collaborate to provide vaccines globally. Over six years, Walgreens has helped to provide more than 50 million lifesaving polio and measles vaccines to children in developing countries by making a donation to the UN Foundation for every immunisation shot administered. In fiscal 2019 Walgreens committed to continuing the Get a Shot. Give a Shot. programme and to help provide 50 million additional immunisations for children in developing countries by 2024, to bring the total since 2013 to 100 million.
Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?
The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:
Disclosure 203-1 Infrastructure investments and services supported corresponds to:
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality
- Targets: 5.4
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Targets: 9.1, 9.4
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Targets: 11.2
Disclosure 413-1 Operations with local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs does not correspond to any SDG.
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1) This case study is based on published information by WBA, 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:
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