Skip to content

Carbon & Beyond: A Discussion with Warren Gorowitz


Carbon & Beyond: A Discussion with Warren Gorowitz

Publishing An Annual CSR Report and Other Insights into ESG and Sustainability

FigBytes’ resident ESG therapist, Rajiv Jalim sat down with Warren Gorowitz, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Hunter Industries to discuss Hunter’s upcoming 10th anniversary of publishing an annual CSR report and the insights gained from a decade of sustainability reporting.

The two also dive into the ESG landscape, the importance of CSR, the benefits of technology in creating a CSR report, materiality, stakeholder engagement, and much more.

You won’t want to miss the invaluable expertise and insights from these two experienced sustainability professionals.

Rajiv JalimWarren, thank you so very much for taking the time to connect. Always a pleasure to chat with Hunter Industries and especially you, and learn about the fantastic things that are happening in your industry, but also how you see ESG being on the other side of the table. Right, on the implementation side of ESG itself and the execution of an ESG program.
Rajiv JalimBefore we jump into into the conversation for today, I thought I’d give you the opportunity to introduce yourself.
Warren GorowitzSure. And thank you for the opportunity to be here. It’s been fun watching this whole ESG journey and how it’s evolving. And I’m sure by the time people are watching this, it’ll probably be different than when we’re talking about today, just like it’s changing that fast. Yeah. So my name’s Warren Gorowitz, and I’m the director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Hunter Industries.
Warren GorowitzWe were founded in 1981. We’re a family owned manufacturer of landscape, irrigation, agriculture, irrigation and outdoor lighting away from home dispensing technology, which is things like paper, towel, soap and air care type products, for washrooms, commercial washrooms. And then finally a custom manufacturing business which does manufacturing molding and production services. So pretty diverse business and I’ve worked for Hunter for it’ll be three years this August of 2022, which is pretty exciting.
Warren GorowitzI spent 25 years of my career previously working for Hunter’s second largest distributor in the landscape and irrigation distribution space. So I’ve spent my whole career working in the landscape industry, irrigation industry specifically, and it’s been fun to watch that evolve into sustainability for my career. And also from an ESG standpoint. And yeah, and, and I’m kind of curious to see where it will go in the remaining time that I have left in my career to.
Rajiv JalimMany, many years ahead. I’m sure congratulations on the three anniversary. I did not know it was three years. Thank you. But it’s also a milestone anniversary as well for Hunter. Right, the 10th year of publishing a CSR report.
Warren GorowitzYeah, later this year in July we’ll be releasing our 10th anniversary, 10th anniversary or 10th annual CSR report. And we’re definitely excited about that. I think, you know, I think I bring an interesting perspective and our company brings an interesting perspective in the CSR world because for one thing, if I go back and again, I wasn’t here when we started our CSR reports, just watching Hunter over the years in my career, I mean, there really wasn’t there really were very few, if any, other manufacturers in our space that were looking at CSR.
Warren GorowitzAnd I think that is definitely something that that makes us stand out. And it’s also inspiring now to see other of our competitors and other people in our industry starting to see that this is something that’s so important. Now, their motives may be a little different than ours, and we can talk about that later. But yeah, I mean, you know, I think that it’s definitely something that people are more familiar with now than certainly when we started ten years ago.
Warren GorowitzBut at the same time, you know, it’s just it’s even more important now as well.
Rajiv JalimYeah. I mean, given how things have changed, ten years is no small period of time within the sustainable space. Ten years ago and I know you weren’t part of Hunter at the time, but to make that decision would have been an interesting one when the manufacturing industry was not necessarily talking about sustainability and CSR, ESG on the scale that it is today.
Rajiv JalimBut I’ll say, you know, subsector was not one of the typical ones that anyone would have thought about when they thought about sustainability. Right. Everyone was still thinking about oil and gas and energy and the typical players. So do you know why Hunter chose to pursue doing as a private organization in the landscape irrigation business and all the other businesses?
Rajiv JalimWhat, what, what prompted the management to decide? No, let’s produce a CSR report.
Warren GorowitzYou know, I think it’s really tied to our values as a company and social responsibility is one of our values and important to the Hunter family and that really was part of the foundation of our company. Back in 1981. And so I think that’s really what has led, that has led us focusing on that. And you know, it’s interesting too because we in order to prioritize really what we’re, where we place our efforts around CSR, we need to reach out and understand what it’s important to our stakeholders.
Warren GorowitzAnd that, you know, is not a easy process often, but it is a very important process. And so for us we survey our stakeholders every three years doing our materiality assessment. And so for us, our stakeholders are our internal stakeholders, of course, our employees, our customers, you know, also our suppliers who we purchase materials from and even this past materiality assessment that we did in October of 20, 21, we even surveyed some of are we, we sent out the survey to our grant recipients for part of our charitable giving as well.
Warren GorowitzAnd what’s important to them as well.
Rajiv JalimSo they were a new stakeholder group in this last materiality assessment. Yeah, yeah.
Warren GorowitzI mean, we’ve been, we’ve been as an organization, you know, we’ve been giving back to the communities for a long time. But from my knowledge, it was the first time we actually included them in our materials segment. And I think what’s interesting is that if you look across all of our different stakeholders, that what was important to them was fairly consistent.
Warren GorowitzAnd that’s really what has allowed us to target and focus. So, you know, our area specifically and we made some changes this year to our to our target areas, which we’ll be reporting on in our CSR report. Again, that’s coming out soon. But most everything else was pretty consistent from previous year, previous materiality assessments. And one things that we also did as well that you’ll see in our upcoming report is most companies have been focusing on doing the materiality matrix.
Warren GorowitzAnd one of the challenges with the matrixes and we did hear this feedback even from our internal some of our internal leadership is you look at things being rated and does that mean what’s at the bottom is not important to you? To your organization? And so in our report this year, you’ll see our materiality areas listed alphabetically because that means that they’re all important.
Warren GorowitzYeah. And in this way, you know, we will obviously identify and we’ve identified and are focusing on projects specific to each one of those areas that are going to help us achieve our goals and our targets are.
Rajiv JalimNo, that’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to that would be quite new. And I have not seen a report that has simply listed the stakeholders of the topics alphabetically. It has always been on the heat map or the matrix. I’m curious, how did you all figure out to now include a new stakeholder group? Was this just some management decision?
Rajiv JalimHow do you determine who forms part of the stakeholder groups?
Warren GorowitzYeah, I think it was just identifying who we interact with and who’s voice is important to us to help us make sure that we’re focusing on the right things as well. And I think the other thing that puts our perspective a little bit differently, and it’s certainly not in the limelight as much on what you hear publicly about ESG these days, is that we’re a private company, like you said, and so we’re not we don’t have investors telling us we have to do these things or, you know, and that and we do it, like I said earlier, because it’s part of our core values as a company.
Warren GorowitzAnd and I think that makes my job that much more interesting and that much more fun in a sense, too, because, yes, there’s I mean, there’s pressure because I do know we do sell our products to a lot of publicly traded companies as well. And I do know that. And I anticipate that we’ll be getting more and more pressure.
Warren GorowitzThey’ll be pressuring their suppliers, I should say. Maybe not necessarily. Yes, but they’ll be pushing their suppliers to make sure that that ESG is a priority. And so the great thing is, is that, you know, we have something to look back on and show them that this is a priority. And here’s what we’re doing and here’s why we’re doing it.
Warren GorowitzAnd, you know, and here here’s also how we’re all working together on this, too. I think that’s and I think that’s really important. You know, I.
Rajiv JalimThink that’s an invaluable nugget. I mean, the proactive approach you took to CSR means that you are not now scrambling to improve your sustainability profile because someone you are selling to has asked you for that information. Right. You already have all of this. Right. Just by a practical approach. I think that is. Yeah.
Warren GorowitzThat’s. Yeah. And does it make it any easier not necessarily. But, you know, the challenges are continuing to be greater and greater. And I think that’s part of how we practice and how we balance what we’re doing, what we’re focusing on. But, you know, also from a reporting standpoint as well, we’ve done a GRI report, I want to say I think two times previously and we are actually moving back towards that.
Warren GorowitzOur report this year will not be reporting to our standards, but we’re kind of we are kind of laying it out. So we’re getting ready to do that for next year’s report.
Rajiv JalimBut if they return to GRI.
Warren GorowitzAnd you know, this is so much about obviously all the alphabet soup and reporting, of course. And for us, and the reason it was important for us to go back to GRI is because it allows us to put ourselves on the same playing field as it is internationally recognized standard for reporting. I’m interested to see how that changes and with some of the things going on, you know, here in the in the U.S. and also even in Europe and some of the things that could morph and and modify, like how businesses and the requirements are reporting again, for especially for publicly traded companies.
Warren GorowitzSo yeah, for us, it’s it’s a recognized standard. What’s interesting, though, candidly, is how many of our customers even understand what GRI is. You know, I mean, I think that’s that’s been one of the challenges for the amount of effort that it takes to reporting against those standards and amount of work that goes into putting together report and you know but at the same time we know it’s the right thing to do.
Warren GorowitzAnd so that’s why we’re moving back towards that for next year.
Rajiv JalimHave you found yourself in a position of also educating customers on GRI and the information you’re asking for and why all of this is relevant?
Warren GorowitzYeah, I wouldn’t say we’ve specifically targeted education around GRI but we definitely are always educating our customers on corporate social responsibility and why it’s important and why it’s important not only to us, but why it should be important to them. And, I mean, I think that’s going to be a continuing journey. And maybe in a lot of cases, again, depending on the sector of our customer base, they may not necessarily know some of the terminology, but they definitely understand the concepts.
Warren GorowitzAnd I think that that’s also something that puts us in a really interesting place, you know, especially from our primary industry in the landscape and irrigation industry, is the impact that the positive and the negative impacts that can have on the environment as well. And and that’s definitely been exacerbated because of COVID good and bad. You know, yeah.
Rajiv JalimIt’s it almost pulling the veil of of everything. Right. And forced to look at issues that you wouldn’t necessarily think before. Well, one thing you mentioned in that last piece that jumped out at me and it was a question I had reading more and more about Hunter was you mentioned terminology, and we all know the acronym ESG is the hot thing today.
Rajiv JalimWe know that sustainability was the hot term. CSR was the hot term some years ago then may or may not be a simple reason behind it, but I have to ask why has Hunter chosen and if that was made before your time, that’s a point. Why have you stuck with CSR?
Warren GorowitzYou know, it was before my time and it’s interesting because in the previous company I worked for, we used sustainability as our buzzword. It was our terminology and how we kind of framed everything that we’re doing as an organization. You know, from what from what I understand and I’ve learned over the past almost three years is we, we, we look at CSR, we look at sustainability being part of CSR.
Warren GorowitzSo it’s part of, you know, the people, planet and profit thing. We use the three P’s as as kind of part of our guidance for everything we do. We but yeah, it’s I think the other reason that we’ve stuck with it is because of our values as a company and that social responsibility is one of our values.
Warren GorowitzSo it’s something that, that our employees understand. And so we’ve used that framework you know, will it change in the future? I don’t know. You know, it’s, it’s and what’s going to be the next buzzword after ESG there’s this talk now of, you know, a lot of and it’s interesting how our industries evolve on the water side from conservation to efficiency.
Warren GorowitzAnd now there’s this whole terminology and focus around. And it’s not just water. The environmental piece is all around resilience, you know. And so I think it has the potential to change and to merge into something else potentially in the future. But today, it’s corporate social responsibility. You know, we always abbreviate it’s kind of a funny side.
Warren GorowitzAnd it was abbreviated, of course, as CSR. And and in a lot of cases, especially for people that aren’t familiar with that terminology, you have to remind them what it stands for because CSR stands for other things too.
Rajiv JalimAnd yeah, I mean in some circles I’ve heard people referring to it as corporate sustainability reporting.
Warren GorowitzI’ve heard it referred to, you know, impact reporting yeah. Which so yeah, I think at the end of the day, it’s just I think for an organization, especially if you’re looking at how you’re going to get started in this space and how you’re going to start doing your reporting, I think you have to choose the right terminology that resonates with you and your stakeholders and and then the other piece of that, I think that’s equally important is making sure that you align yourself with good partners to help you be successful.
Warren GorowitzAnd, and that you didn’t ask me this question, but that’s one of the reasons what prompted us to look at FigBytes. You know, it was being able to find a partner that could help us make sense of all the data that’s involved especially when it comes to all this reporting and all the things that you have to keep track of.
Warren GorowitzI mean, that in itself is is you know, it’s overwhelming at times, to say the least.
Rajiv JalimThat one of the biggest pillars of ESG management right on the data side of things. But I don’t want to gloss over something you said. Warren because I knew where you said it might seem like a regular part of business. But from sitting on this side of ESG, where we are a solutions provider and I talk to clients across markets and geographies, that’s a very impactful piece of thought leadership you shared with sticking to your team, CSR and CSR very much being part of those values because many organizations, markets, geographies, whatever you want to call them, S is often seen as secondary to it, as we all know, what is the big?
Rajiv JalimIt’s the latter, even though it’s just the first among equals. And I feel like many clients focus on the E and S is now catching up. But again, you all are demonstrating that you’re ahead of the curve, that you’re not just giving in to the wave of excitement. You are covering your bases, but part of your values is very much the social side of things.
Rajiv JalimAnd your ESG program, sustainability programs, CSR program, whatever acronym, or name you want to give it. It has very much been centered around people.
Warren GorowitzIt really is. And you know, at the end of the day, that’s what the people in your business and the people you interact with. And especially if we look at internally, it’s really what it’s the foundation for our culture and and having that the social having a focus on the social area whether that’s you know, how we take care of our employees and especially in the last two and a half years you know two plus years with COVID, how that’s become so exacerbated, so exacerbated and so prevalent is making sure that you’re you know, I mean, if you think about it, in the manufacturing space that we’ve been in, we shy
Warren Gorowitzof a day and a half, two days. We’ve been we haven’t been shut down. Our businesses was considered an essential business, fortunately. And so our employees, we had to figure out and you had to adapt really quickly to figure out how to make sure that we take care of our employees and also continue to be able to to to manufacture the products that our customers need.
Warren GorowitzAnd no one of us foresaw that one it would go on for. So long. But two none of us really saw the fact that again, and this is the environmental and the social side as well, that what was one of the things that you were allowed to do at the height of the pandemic is people were allowed to be outdoors.
Warren GorowitzAnd that’s part a big part of what our where our products go on the irrigation space and subsequently also on the agricultural irrigation space. You know, growing food continues to be a priority, of course. And so but we didn’t really see that at the beginning. You didn’t know that that was going to be such a important thing. So that’s that helped bring more relevancy to our industry for sure.
Warren GorowitzAnd yeah, and then and then how we interact as a good corporate citizen in the communities that we live for. And that’s a priority for us as well. And that’s what kind of leads us for what we call our charitable giving that we do and also how we interact with our employees and bring them into that as well and, and, and recognize and allow them to contribute to organizations that are important to them and help, you know, help support their organizations that are also important to them as well.
Rajiv JalimAnd I’m curious then and feel free to tell me, you know, wait till the report comes out, but like every good movie, I’m down for a trailer or a teaser so that focus on people and the impact on people. The S if we were to call it the S of ESG or the S in CSR, are you seeing that reflected in the results of your materiality assessment?
Rajiv JalimAre the stakeholder leaders highlighting the importance of S?
Warren GorowitzYes. Yes. I mean, they are highlighting it especially things around like diversity, equity and inclusion are also very become much more people have become much more aware of it. I guess unfortunately or unfortunately for the things that have happened over the last couple of years, I would still say that the the E is still what seems to matter most to people.
Warren GorowitzAnd part of that I think for us and I think it’s a good segue into something else that I know we wanted to talk about, which is water. Yeah. And and the fact is, is that for us, I mean, water is is probably one of our most material topics for a couple of things. One, for the the products that we manufacture use water.
Warren GorowitzYou know, water is part of our manufacturing process. So that’s an important thing for us to make sure that we’re being as efficient as possible. But even more importantly, you know, in many of the industries that we work in and where our products go to, they don’t exist without water. Period. I mean, no question about that. And so if you look at the agricultural sector again, especially well and this is all over the world that, you know, irrigation in many cases places efficient irrigation plays an important role in growing food fiber.
Warren GorowitzYou know, that’s that’s important. And then on the turf and landscape side of our business, you know, if you look at the fact that outdoor water use in many cases and I’m going to just throw some numbers from North America can account for 30% of the total household water use but as much as 60% of the water that’s used in a typical household can be used outdoors and then you take that water and as much as 50% of that could be wasted.
Rajiv JalimAnd you talked about outdoor use covering things like gardens, lawns, pools all of those.
Warren GorowitzWater typically can be not always, but as much of it can be as 50% of it. It can be wasted because whether it’s lost to evaporation to wind or runoff, which means people are over irrigate, over watering things as well, and that’s all tied to irrigation system methods and efficiencies. And so that on our irrigation side of our business is kind of, you know, one of the one of the things that drives us is to is to provide tools for our customers to allow them to irrigate as efficiently as possible and, and it’s I mean, it’s in the crosshairs right now, especially where I am in the West Coast.
Warren GorowitzYou know, the current drought that we’re experiencing that we’ve been experiencing, not just this year for several years almost. I think it’s I think if you look at the numbers, it’s close to like the last decade almost at the extremes of climate change are making people pay even more attention to water. Yeah. And and I think it’s it’s a double edged sword in a lot of ways, both for what we do as a manufacture but also for our industry as well.
Rajiv JalimSo that’s that’s a very valid point. And even for someone who might be listening to this, water can be a very daunting topic. And it’s you think of E and everyone jumps to carbon because it’s possibly the most well understood side. And even carbon is confusing in its own right. So I don’t think a lot of people are talking about how then.
Warren GorowitzAt least you can see water. I should ask you because, you know, I remember early on in my career and we’re talking about greenhouse gas emissions. Yeah. Like, OK, do you see I mean, how do you and how do you equate that metric tons to like something that people can understand and understand? And then you also think about how big of an impact that is and how big these numbers are and how do you understand that?
Warren GorowitzCan you really have an impact on that? You know, can a business, can a person, can a business, of course, have an impact on that? At least water is something that’s a little bit more understandable because people are using water in their daily lives. And I think that’s the other thing, too, is that is that, again, seeking from North America, where we just take it we take for granted that we turn on our faucet every day for the most part, and the water comes out.
Warren GorowitzAnd that’s not the case in many places in the world. And so I think that you have to put that in perspective, that this resource is not an unlimited resource and that we have to be good stewards. And so that at the end of the day is something that is a priority for us. And one of the things that drives us for product innovation and new things that we’re working on for the future.
Warren GorowitzAnd then how do you bring those products to market and make them easy for people to use and understand?
Rajiv JalimAnd so that’s that’s an important part. I like that with stewardship because for most organizations trying to wrap their head around what it’s just focused on consumption. Do we waste, we reuse, do we recycle, how much are we using? But I think there’s a bigger picture involving water, which is the stewardship side of things. I mean, you spoke about the ability in North America and in Canada, we can also open our taps.
Rajiv JalimAnd for the most part, you have a potable water coming through the taps. But then you think right here in North America, where we do have challenges that with drought, that’s the environmental side as the food security side. But there’s also the social side of what’s that when you look at the Flint water crisis. So even here in Canada, you know, getting some of water to to our indigenous lands, for example, to the communities that live there, also very much in our on our front door.
Rajiv JalimWhat has Hunter’s journey been like with water? Meaning and I’ll bring bring that question down, meaning from just tracking consumption to really looking at what a stewardship and the whole what’s a picture and how far along are you all on that journey? Where do you all have to go still in terms of seeing water as its whole?
Rajiv JalimOwn E, if we might call it that.
Warren GorowitzYeah, I would love to tell you that we’re that we’re farther along than we are. And I say that because everybody starts with, like you said, understanding your own consumption. And so that’s something that we are we are definitely we’ve been focusing on for quite some time and continued to try to improve on that. And and the next piece of it, though, and part of our the next part of our journey is understanding our water footprint.
Warren GorowitzAnd, you know, and that, you know, our manufacturing campuses are in diverse areas. But ironically, two of the three are in water challenged areas here. Where I am in North County, San Diego. So Southern California and Tijuana, Mexico. Both areas have significant challenges with water availability. And so we are continuing on our journey to better understand our water footprint and the impact that we have across those campus, across all of our campuses.
Warren GorowitzOur third campus in Florida, outside of Orlando, also has a different water stress or has had gone through different kinds of water stress as well. And so that for us is the next part of our journey is really looking at our footprint and being able to understand that. And then from there, the hardest part is, is how do we understand you know, and how do we measure the consumption of water that our products are being used by our customer?
Rajiv JalimThat’s what the product is doing. My facility it’s the consumption of smart meter.
Warren GorowitzAnd the neat thing about from a management standpoint is technology that we’re all using in our daily lives has been has been incorporated into the irrigation sector from a water management standpoint. And now you take weather data, soil moisture data, and whether it’s a residential landscape, whether it’s a golf course, whether it’s a commercial sports field, and you take that data and actually it allows the user to make smarter decisions on how much water they should be using.
Warren GorowitzNow I’m a huge fan of technology, but I you know, I also am a realist and recognize that the technology is not and all. Yeah, by the way, drones you know, can now look at large sites and actually see how much moisture is in the soil and and the fertilization levels and things like that. And that I guess that technology’s great, but it doesn’t replace smart people that work in this space as well that have to truly understand it.
Warren GorowitzBecause unlike indoor water that is typically regulated by a faucet and a toilet, a shower or something like that, outdoor water is a system. And so you have an irrigation system that’s designed, installed, maintain. It all has to be done by people that are knowledgeable and understand that and then using the right technology for the right application. And so somebody has to and you’re also you’re watering plants that are different than, you know, that require different amounts of water.
Warren GorowitzAnd you need to understand like what’s what’s the right amount of water for that plan. And so that’s the cool thing about technology is it’s helping. But I still see that you need people that are understanding and can understand the basic concepts of horticulture and soil health and plant health and water management, so forth.
Rajiv JalimSo I see where we’re at. What’s the next step, I should say, for water for Hunter?
Warren GorowitzNext step again is is continuing to identify and understand our water use in the manufacturing process on our campuses. Continue to get more granular with that identification. And then and then like I said, it’s looking at our footprint and better understanding that how we’re affecting our watershed here in our different manufacturing campuses and how do we minimize that impact on the watershed.
Warren GorowitzAnd then because a big part of what we do, you know, from a especially in the irrigation industry, is work on education as well. And so how can we educate our clients around that as well so they understand the importance of it? I don’t think people think about that. Like I said, you turn on your faucet, water comes out, you water your landscape, or you’re maybe out in the yard working on your landscape or growing your vegetables.
Warren GorowitzBut understanding like what happens downstream of you with the water. The water does, you know, get and I think the water is running off into the landscape. And I think the other piece of it, and this gets into the politics of water today, is that there’s a delicate balance from a from a let’s just say residential commercial standpoint around our water use because we’re being told we have to reduce our water use, which is it’s just right.
Warren GorowitzWe want to make sure that that we’re being as efficient as possible. How are using it? There’s more prescriptive nature in how we should be using our water that’s coming from municipalities, which could be a whole other discussion. We could have in another rabbit hole to go down. But the other rabbit hole and the other part of that discussion, I think that’s delicate is there, you know, when the when the municipality is seeing people use less water, their revenue is declining.
Warren GorowitzAnd so they have to make up for their lost revenue. And in many cases, that also means that and this isn’t just water, this could be energy to in cases the utilities are raising the rates and so people are paying more per unit that’s being used. And so it’s you know, it’s a very interesting challenge that we see in and not just in our industry, just in general with water and energy, too.
Rajiv JalimAnd it’s interesting not to take us down a philosophical path, but as you mentioned, the politics and the politics or the relationship of politics to water. It’s interesting because we’re seeing based on whether you believe in climate change or not, but just based on what’s happening in the world, we’re seeing extreme distributions of water where in some cases there are extreme droughts and then in my case is extreme floods.
Rajiv JalimRight. And as more urban areas start developing, we’re expecting most of the world’s population to live in urban developed areas where we tend to have most of the flooding so I do believe you have the political side, the municipalities, the developers. They also share relationship with water beyond the consumption and thinking about the things that happen. Also on the farms where we don’t see you interact with on a day to day basis, we just reap the benefits of the food, but we have no idea where the food comes from.
Rajiv JalimThe challenges it faces with water.
Warren GorowitzYeah, and I think to your point on the on the environmental side and the climate extremes, I mean, there’s so much planning that has to go into play because because of how things are changing and continue to change. And if you look at it from a risk mitigation standpoint as well, I mean, just understanding that the impact that climate change is going to have on your business and if we look at, you know, things that are going on today as we speak, own raw material availability around.
Warren GorowitzSo that’s affecting supply chain around shipping and transportation. You know, we have this global economy and yet, you know, and how paralyzed it can be when you rely on materials to come from overseas and then they get held up sitting out, you know, I’d say at one of the ports and stuff sitting off, I don’t know what the current count today is, but I’m sure it’s probably still over a hundred ships that are sitting off here in Southern California that are still waiting with materials that are still waiting to be received and distributed.
Warren GorowitzAnd so and that. And, you know, that I think is also ties into this whole environmental side and the social side and the government side for that matter as well of of CSR and sustainability, because I think as a business, you have to see, you know, how you can is it possible to control your supply chain better? And can you do it in a way that still allows the company to be to continue to grow and be profitable?
Warren GorowitzAnd I think that’s going to continue to be a challenge. And for sure, I mean, you look at with the pandemic again and when there’s an increase in COVID in certain parts of the country and they just shut down that they have to to protect their people and all of a sudden materials aren’t being produced and so forth.
Warren GorowitzAnd how much of a quick impact that has anyway, I mean, it’s it’s fascinating to see how all this ties together. And I guess I think the thing that I look at is the fact that if you take away one of the positives from the pandemic is that it’s broadened heightened awareness on all of this it absolutely has.
Warren GorowitzAnd I think it’s not something you can ignore anymore. And then at the same time, for the people that have been in the space for a long time, that have been saying, hey, you know, we need to start acting sooner and we need to act faster, that’s probably the frustration point for those for a lot of those people is it’s like we’re not doing enough quick enough to mitigate the impacts that we are having on the climate.
Warren GorowitzYeah. So, you know, it’s it’s daunting at the same time. And I guess that’s opportunities for new people coming into the space. So on how on how these challenges are going to get solved and for those of us that will still be here for a while, you know, like how do we all solved what do we do to solve these challenges and who do we work with and how do we do this together?
Warren GorowitzWhich is the thing that I think it’s also been brought in light because of all the things that are going on.
Rajiv JalimThank you for sharing and I want to be respectful of your time as well. There’s one other topic that I want to touch on, and I think it perfectly wraps up what summarizes everything that we’ve discussed before makes the point that the concept of strategy, you all have been doing CSR and let’s just I hate that phrase doing CSR, but you all have been down the CSR journey for a few years now.
Rajiv JalimThis is the 10th year of your report. You obviously ten years later, we’re not at the same point that you were from the one. On the strategy side of things, you also mentioned, you know, aligning the values to the three Ps. What has the journey been like getting to the point that you are at today in terms of your strategy?
Rajiv JalimHow did you come up with your strategy? How did you determine what goes into your strategy, the goals that you’re setting because for many of the companies that we’re talking to who don’t have ten years of experience in these reports, they’re simply overwhelmed. And we’re also trying to tell them that’s OK. The important thing is that you start and then you can refine as you get along.
Rajiv JalimYou know, you can’t start with the perfect strategy. So what has that journey been like for Hunter?
Warren GorowitzWell, to your point, and there’s a philosopher that said The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And so like, you can’t it’s easy to get. It’s easy to feel paralyzed because your there’s so much it’s overwhelming. And and I think that yeah, as you said, you know, you just need to start somewhere. And I think that from our perspective and what we’ve done from a strategy standpoint, is you need to start at the beginning talking about understanding what’s important to your stakeholders.
Warren GorowitzSo that’s kind of the first thing that you need to do. You need to understand what’s important to your stakeholders. And then as you’re developing your strategy, I think it’s important that you don’t do it in a vacuum even inside your organization. And I think that and that you need to involve all the key areas of your business and they need to be part of that discussion.
Warren GorowitzAnd then and that’s something that I think has continued to evolve in our organization again, I only have three years of experience, but just from as you know, as I’ve listened to and talks with others throughout our organization is that and so that means for us, that means setting up. We have what’s called the CSR Council, and that’s representation from all of our areas of our business.
Warren GorowitzAnd they help me and my team of myself and our CSR coordinator, they help me, they help us kind of guide our CSR strategy for the organization as well. And so you’re getting that input. And then the other thing that probably is just as important and that I’ve been really focusing on you know, is that you also need to figure out how do you take that strategy and bring that down.
Warren GorowitzSo every employee in the organization understands how they impact that. We’re getting there. I’d say we’re making strides and lots of improvement, but that continues to be… Always continue to be a focus for me is making sure that you know that and our manufacturing space. How does the in person that’s person that’s working in the manufacturing floor understand what they’re doing every day and how that impacts our CSR strategy, our CSR goals, and then setting goals and targets that you asked about as well.
Warren GorowitzI think, you know, you and you look at and we we did a climate action plan which helped us and worked with a consultant to put that together and kind of built out some of our targets like our greenhouse gas reduction targets and some of our other targets, although we didn’t certify to the SBTi science based target initiative, that was the framework for it.
Warren GorowitzAnd so we built them out accordingly. But then you need to set some goals, make them stretch goals so they’re not so easy to attain. And then, you know, that allows the organization to figure out, OK, now how are we going to get there and what do we need to do in order to do that, and what resources do I need and who needs to be, you know, who do I need to make sure is involved and then and I think for us most recently on this most recent, after we did our materiality assessment and as you’re as you’ll see talked about in our CSR upcoming CSR report, it’s involving those process owners in
Warren Gorowitzthe discussion around how we’re going to get to those goals because it’s easy for a group of people to set the goals and targets. And now we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get there. But if you involve those people that are responsible for that in that discussion, when you’re setting those goals and targets, then you have support in mind and it becomes part of everybody’s they understand why it’s important.
Warren GorowitzAnd so you’re not going back and saying, Oh, by the way, we set this target and we’re going to reduce this usage by X percent by this year. Go figure it out instead of, Oh, yeah, we were part of setting that goal. The other people that are important to that, that are going to help make it happen and they understand why and they can help you get the resources and they can also become a champion as well for those initiatives.
Rajiv JalimWhat has been the role and you alluded to this earlier as well, what has then been the role of implementing your CSR strategy with a technology partner? What what value add has sure. As to having technology on that journey brought to the organization?
Warren GorowitzAbsolutely. Well, and then we talked about it a little bit earlier when we were talking about kind of tracking some of our usage of our resources and things is, you know, there’s so much data in an organization that sits in a lot of different places, whether it’s in different businesses, in different parts of the world, and being able technology and having a technology partner is important to be able to actually gather all that data and put it keep it someplace and then just as important, be able to actually do something with the data.
Warren GorowitzSo how do we do analysis against the data and then how do we share the results of that data? Because that’s the other challenge is, is that in many times, in many cases, that data lives with a process owner somewhere and they do their reporting on it maybe for their own little department or their team, but the rest of the organization doesn’t see it.
Warren GorowitzAnd so having a technology partner and that to be able to actually take that data, do the analysis against it, and then figure out ways to easily communicate and share it with your with your stakeholders, is really what’s most important and has been a you know, as I mentioned earlier, that’s why FigBytes has been with us on this journey and allowing us to actually do that and actually be able to take that data and share it out and and, and then, you know, and then allow people to understand what to do with the data as well.
Warren GorowitzBecause, you know, without data, without a story is just data. It’s just numbers. You got to pull the story into the communication piece of how that data is and why it’s important, how it can be used.
Rajiv JalimThat’s fantastic because that’s if I may summarize a paraphrase then engagement is possibly one of the most critical parts of any CSR program. And unfortunately, it’s one of the most forgotten elements. I think we’ve seen organizations boil it down to just producing a CSR report on sustainability report, ESG report, but not actually engaging stakeholders and having that feedback loop in there.
Rajiv JalimYes, the strategy and planning.
Warren GorowitzYeah, yeah, yeah, without a doubt. And at the end of the day, that you know, you can put a nice report together but there are things you have to engage your stakeholders and then you have to do something with all that information, too.
Rajiv JalimAll right. Well, I know we’re coming close to time. So Warren I wanted to say thank you so, so very much for chatting. Always a pleasure. I hope we get to have many, many more of these conversations. Where we get deep dove into some of these topics.
Warren GorowitzYeah, thank you. I should say it’s been fun. I do hope we get to do this again. I can think of plenty other topics. We can speak. I would.
Rajiv JalimLove to. I would love to. This is the first of many. Personally, thank you very much for taking the time to chat.
Warren GorowitzThank you again.