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How This CEO’s Focus on ESG Performance Allows Owens Corning to Keep Reimagining Sustainability

By 3p Editors
Owens Corning

Owens Corning Headquarters in Toledo, Ohio

Immediately upon taking becoming CEO at Owens Corning in 2019, Brian Chambers led the way in expanding the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. That same year, the company announced its third set of long-term sustainability goals to be achieved over the next decade.

The company’s target 2030 sustainability goals are what it says its most comprehensive and ambitious to date, ones designed to expand its business impact through continuing its commitment to incorporate material environmental, social, and economic initiatives into Owens Corning’s global practices and operations.

Chambers, who also serves as the Owens Corning’s chairman, established a few key tenets for those 2030 goals: “Our goals must be what the world expects of us, not what we think we can do.” In other words, any such goals must be Owens Corning’s leadership goals, not simply the goals of the company’s sustainability team. 

With Chambers setting the tone, Owens Corning’s slate of 2030 sustainability goals builds on three fundamental pillars: expanding its products’ handprint, reducing the company’s environmental footprint, and expanding Owens Corning’s social handprint. These three pillars, from the company’s perspective, represent a reimagining of the very concept of sustainability.

That strong focus has resulted in Chambers being named as this year’s Responsible CEO of the Year: ESG Transparency.

“I’m most proud of the recognition this brings to my 19,000 colleagues around the world who wake up every day and work hard to achieve our goals in sustainability,” Chambers said during last month’s webcast of 3BL Media’s 2021 Responsible CEO of the Year Awards. “This recognition and frankly all the recognition we’ve received around sustainability and our impact that we’re having on the environment and the impact we’re having on our customers and in the communities where we work and live.”

Without diminishing its focus on environmental challenges, Owens Corning says it is extending this concept to include an emphasis on improving the quality of life for the people with whom it coexists across the globe. Under Chambers’ leadership, Owens Corning has ramped up its efforts to improve the lives of the people in communities in which it operates while fostering a culture of inclusion among all of its employees.

“We’ve been on a journey at Owens Corning for close to two decades now. And I think like many companies, we started our journey really focusing in on the footprint and our reductions in terms of air pollution, water usage, energy consumption and waste to landfill,” added Chambers. “And then we’ve really evolved this through a series of our goals and objectives, to today, where we’re very proud to be focusing not just on continuing with our footprint reduction, but really as focused on how to we expand the positive impact of our products with our customers … and then, how do we really increase our impact in the communities where we work and live and really promote healthy work and lifestyles for all of our employees?”

As for long-term social impact, Owens Corning’s 2030 goals for diversity and inclusion work include having 35 percent of global mid-level leader, director, and vice president roles to be filled by women; as of 2020, 25 percent of top management positions within Owens Corning were held by women. By 2030, the company seeks a diverse minority representation rate of 22 percent for identified key roles within Owens Corning.

Chambers’ leadership, often described by his colleagues as “decisive,” also led to the issuance of the company’s initial green bond in August 2019, making Owens Corning the first U.S.-based industrial company to issue such a bond. As part of that bond’s announcement, the company has committed to spend at least $445 million on eligible sustainability projects. The company is also using the funds to expand the company’s work in renewables, energy efficiency and circular economy-adapted products.

“Our purpose is for our people and our products to make the world a better place,” Chambers wrote in the introduction of Owens Corning’s 2019 ESG report, issued during the peak of last year’s global pandemic. “The company has an immediate responsibility to help people – our own employees and those around us, including our families, our communities, and all our other stakeholders – and that’s our focus.”

Image credit: Owens Corning (still shot of video)

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TriplePundit editors offer news and insights on sustainable business.

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