Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Eileen Howard Boone: I am the Senior Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy and Social Responsibility, CVS Caremark; President, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. In my SVP role, I lead a team responsible for implementing a wide range of communications, philanthropic and CSR programs that align with the company’s purpose to help people on their path to better health. As President of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation of CVS Caremark, I oversee the foundation’s charitable giving. I am also responsible for creating and managing strategic partnerships with nonprofit organizations that share in the Trust’s commitment to provide greater access to health care in communities throughout the country.
I have enjoyed 15 years of experience in corporate social responsibility and community relations.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
EHB: CVS Caremark is committed to fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within the company and throughout our supply chain. As part of this commitment, we establish goals, track our performance and report our progress to stakeholders. To balance our environmental and fiscal responsibilities, we seek opportunities that deliver both business and social returns.
Since 2007, CVS Caremark has made a strong commitment to the environment and has implemented and advanced many green initiatives, enabling the company to achieve greater efficiencies that deliver both business and environmental benefits. During this time, we created an Environmental Leadership Council which was charged with the development and implementation of the company’s environmental strategy as well as establishing short- and long-term priorities. In 2008, CVS Caremark commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to establish a valid methodology for calculating the company’s emissions on an annual basis. The company used 2007 data to set a baseline and calculate the company’s carbon footprint for the first time.
Additionally, CVS Caremark extends its commitment to sustainability through its nonprofit partners and initiatives. In 2013, CVS Caremark partnered with Ocean Conservancy, an organization that educates and empowers citizens to take action and work to protect the ocean and its wildlife for future generations, and cleaned up shorelines across the country. CVS Caremark colleagues nationwide participated in local shoreline cleanups throughout the summer, removing trash and raising awareness of how clean and healthy waterways are a vital component of a sustainable future for ourselves, our planet, and all its wildlife. Their efforts collected nearly 25,000 pounds of trash.
3p: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.
EHB: Margaret McKenna, the former president of the Walmart Foundation, has been a great role model for me. She successfully led the strategic development of the Walmart Foundation’s focus to fight hunger and coordinated local, national and international programs to help alleviate hunger across the globe. McKenna’s leadership and her work demonstrate how CSR can make an impact on a business, a community, a people and the world-at-large. I really admire her as a leader and recognize all the meaningful contributions she has made during her career.
3p: What is the best advice you have ever received?
EHB: CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry Merlo once said to me, “Never give up on success. Stay committed to winning and don’t be deterred by obstacles. They make you stronger and more creative. Be persistent and do what it takes to win—the right way.”
This advice has been invaluable in my professional development and it also has helped me stay focused on the important and impactful work our company does every day to help people on their path to better health.
3p: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?
EHB: I am extremely proud of the impact the CVS Caremark All Kids Can program has made since it launched in 2005. I helped create the program with a goal to help raise awareness in schools and in local communities about the importance of inclusion for children with disabilities, and to help kids of all abilities to be the best they can be.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible nonprofit organizations and together, we have helped to provide children of all abilities with opportunities for play, physical activities, access to health care services and ensure they have education and dedicated resources to make life easier for them and their families.
To date, CVS Caremark All Kids Can, has committed more than $60 million in support of nonprofit organizations nationwide that provide innovative programs and services focused on helping kids be the best they can be in all aspects of their lives, and has helped make a positive impact in the lives of nearly 20 million people.
3p: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
EHB: Overall, I hope that the health care industry and all businesses develop a greater awareness and acceptance of the impact CSR can make on business opportunity and growth. At CVS Caremark, our commitment is to help build healthier communities and it is great to see that firsthand through the good work our nonprofit partners are doing in local communities nationwide.
Additionally, as I work with business partners across our company, it is clear that our business priorities are positively affected by our CSR imperatives and I look forward to continuing to support their needs and make a difference for healthier communities and a healthier planet.
3p: Describe your perfect day.
EHB: One of my most favorite days of the year is the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K.
Every September, thousands of elite athletes, community members, families and CVS Caremark colleagues converge in Providence, Rhode Island. There is something for everyone within the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K. It has youth races, the All Kids Can Inspiration run for children with disabilities, the High School Inspirational 3k which includes a popular costume contest, and of course, the 5k, which attracts some of the world’s most elite runners, as well as other competitive runners, recreational runners and wheelchair athletes. To top this off, the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K provides musical entertainment along the race course, scenic views of the city, and supports nonprofit organizations and schools in Southern New England.
I love this day because it brings to life the spirit of volunteerism, health and fitness, and helps support our local community.
It has been a tradition in our family for the past nine years and we really enjoy participating in all of the fun activities while getting some exercise, too!