Every year on Earth Day we reflect on important aspects of our vision and mission — specifically, how we protect water and the environment through our work with our clients and provide support for our communities and employees. As part of our strategic planning process in 2017, we set numerous 2020 goals that address our environmental, social and governance impacts. Shortly thereafter, we released our inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting framework and reported on key metrics and initiatives that were part of our plans.
Internally, our Code of Conduct and Sustainability Policy reflect the company’s commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability measures and reporting. As a purpose-driven organization, our mission statement has shaped our focus on positively impacting the three central pillars of sustainability: meaningful environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts are embedded in the origins of our company and are the ‘why’ for bringing many employees to Woodard & Curran. In addition to quantifiable benchmarks, I’m proud to share some stories that demonstrate our commitment to these pillars.
As a water and environmental engineering firm, our commitment to the environment is an obvious one. However, this surpasses our daily work that centers on reliable access to clean water through consulting and operations, remediating contaminated sites, and helping our clients meet their environmental regulatory obligations. We’re constantly striving to find not only effective, but sustainable solutions for our clients.
We’ve made strides to understand and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through more efficient use of office spaces and by purchasing carbon offsets for our business travel impacts. We’re also celebrating 10 years of philanthropy with the Woodard & Curran Foundation, which supports organizations doing environmentally beneficial work in the communities where we work and live.
Our leading value at Woodard & Curran is to put people first and we strive to maintain an environment where everyone can bring their whole, authentic selves to work. Our robust diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy is built on the belief that diverse teams working together in an equitable, inclusive culture will foster an environment for our people to thrive; and when our people thrive, our clients benefit and our business prospers. Putting people first also means prioritizing their health and safety through extensive trainings offered companywide and through our Live Well program, which provides our employees with tools dedicated to five core wellbeing priorities: physical, financial, emotional, community, and work-life effectiveness.
Additionally, giving back is a big part of our company culture. In 2019 we implemented a volunteer paid time off benefit, giving each employee 8 paid hours per year to serve their communities. We also engage in charitable giving outside of our Foundation, including a company match of employee donations for three social justice organizations in the spring of 2020.
2020 was a true test of sustainable governance structures for companies and organizations across the globe. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we prioritized the health and wellbeing of our employees, clients, and communities by adopting policies and practices that would allow us to maintain continuity in our critical projects while keeping all stakeholders as safe as possible. The blog we published in March explains our response as well as lessons learned over the last year.
A sustainable ownership program is important to our people and essential to the continuation of Woodard & Curran as a private, employee-owned company. Through more frequent and expanded communications about why private ownership matters and the creation of new approaches like an initial stock match grant, we surpassed our ownership goal in 2020.
The work that we do for all our stakeholders stems from our commitment to be a purpose driven and impactful company — to our employees, clients, communities and planet. As the challenges that face our people, our clients, and our communities change, we’ve risen to meet them by working in new ways, integrating new understanding into our approaches, and planning, designing, and building for an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable future.
In the year ahead we will be redefining our vision and developing our next strategic plan to guide us toward that vision, ensuring we continue on a course that meets our values and satisfies our framework for goal setting and accountability. In developing our strategic plan, we’ll undergo a formal materiality assessment to redefine the ESG metrics we communicate and report on, based on the areas that are most impactful to our stakeholders. We’re excited to communicate our work in this way and look forward to expanding the knowledge of the relevance of ESG within Woodard & Curran, and with our partners and clients.