ImageThe stakeholder focused company I chose is Timberland. Timberland is a manufacturer and retailer of outdoor clothing and footwear. The company was begun by Nathan Swartz in 1918 with shoes being their only product. Over the years Timberland produced a more diverse set of products including clothing and accessories. In 1987, The Timberland Company went public. In 2011, Timberland was purchased by VF Corporation who also owns Northface.

The Timberland Company has not always been seen as a stakeholder focused company. In 2002 one of Timberland’s suppliers in China was reported to have terrible working conditions and had been using child labor. Executives at Timberland took these allegations very seriously, beginning a rigorous audit process of all its suppliers. Timberland pushed towards better working conditions and zero tolerance on child labor.

This was only the beginning of Timberland’s effort to refocus on its stakeholders. Timberland created the Sustainable Living Environment for their employees. This was developed to ensure that their manufacturing workers in foreign countries could meet basic needs and have opportunities to better their lives. To help these employees, Timberland offered class and tutors to promote financial literacy in these undeveloped nations. This would let the workers learn how control their finances which would hopefully lead to a better life for them and their families.

Timberland has also partnered with Planet Water Foundation in India and Vietnam to bring clean drinking water to the nations’ cities. As for domestic policies, Timberland is one of dozens of companies that offer its employees incentives to buy hybrid cars. Specifically, if an employee has been with the company for at least two years, Timberland will give the employee $3000 towards a hybrid car purchase.

In 2011, with the company being purchased by VF Corporation, Timberland faces a new set of obstacles. Timberland now has pressures from their parent company to focus on the bottom line rather than its stakeholders. Timberland’s supplier audit process has already been discarded and replaced with VF Corporation’s. It will be interesting in the coming years to see if Timberland sticks to its employee and sustainability focused mission, or if it will conform to its parent company’s goals.

Links:

http://responsibility.timberland.com/

https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/27586/code.pdf

4 responses »

  1. Matt says:

    I like how this is told like a narrative, where it starts with how exposure to scandal caused the company to completely rethink its image and structure. Then they redeem themselves, becoming a stakeholder-minded company and committing themselves to preventing poor labor practices from occurring again. But now that they’re public, the threat is even greater to their integrity. Can they overcome the Big Bad Board of DIrectors? Find out on next week’s episode…
    I was really impressed with the Sustainable Living Environment initiative. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like a pretty unique venture? At least, I’ve never heard of another company with a similar program. I especially admired the education on personal finances; I think that shows real character, going above and beyond what is expected to ensure your employees are well off. I hope they are able to maintain their current course of action, I think it would send a strong message to public and help boost their faith in business.

  2. Jordi says:

    Can you embed th e links to the text where they are most relevant, please?

  3. Jordi says:

    Is the VF audit process worse?

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