Timberland Moves on Despite Merger, Appoints New CSR VP

a pair of Timberland boots, most likely ethically sourced
a pair of Timberland boots, most likely ethically sourced

The announcement earlier this month that VF Corp will acquire Timberland for about US$2 billion raised many questions within the corporate social responsibility (CSR) world.  Timberland is a leader in CSR reporting and has a strong track record of pushing the envelope when it comes to issues affecting people and the planet.  Would joining a family of brands that includes John Varvatos, Vans, and Lee have an impact on Timberland’s sustainability efforts?  Or could Timberland serve as a catalyst for spurring increased CSR initiatives throughout VF, a company that earned US$7.7 billion last year?

Regardless of what the future may hold, Timberland continues business as usual.  Yesterday the company created a new executive position, vice president of corporate social responsibility, and hired Dell veteran Mark Newton to fill those new shoes.

During his eight years at Dell, Newton led several programs including those related to global policy development and especially, stakeholder engagement initiatives.  His departure from Dell earlier this year disappointed those who were complimentary about Dell’s progress on environmental and social issues.

Newton will head Timberland’s global CSR team who manage the company’s four main areas of focusstakeholder engagement, environmental stewardship, human rights, and transparency.

The fit is a strong one, and Newton should be a strong anchor while Timberland integrates with the VF family of brands.  Companies would be wise to follow the outdoor apparel company’s Voices of Challenge Forum, where sustainability thought leaders share their ideas on having to do with energy, product stewardship, employee engagement, and community service.  To that end, Timberland was among the first companies to not only go beyond standard CSR reporting, but to hold stakeholder engagement calls on a regular basis.

Timberland’s organizational structure also lands them ahead of the CSR curve.  Newton will report to Timberland CFO Carrie Teffner.  Expect more companies to follow this model as organizations realize that CSR has financial and measurable impacts.

A chemistry PhD, Newton has also led environmental technology programs at Apple and Motorola, and sits on the boards of Clean Production Action and Carbonfund.org.

Leon Kaye is the Editor of GreenGoPost.com and contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.

 

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. When he has time, he shares his thoughts on his own site, GreenGoPost.com. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). He is currently living and working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.