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Sustainability Spotlight Series: Rodan + Fields

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Lindsay Vignoles, ESG Director at Rodan and Fields, provides insight into the company's multifaceted approach to sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and innovation. Lindsay discusses Rodan and Fields' ambitious goals and the impactful initiatives driving progress in reducing emissions, fostering an inclusive workplace culture, and integrating sustainability into product innovation.

Eliana: Hi Lindsay, it's a pleasure to have you with us today. Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey into sustainability?

Lindsay: Yeah, Eliana, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here today, and I'm looking forward to this conversation. I got my feet wet in sustainability through what some might consider an unconventional path. But when I reflect back on it, I think there really is a common thread that ties my different experiences together and leads to where I am today. And I think that if I had to say what that thread is, it really is a commitment to pursue work that makes a positive impact on people and the planet.

Lindsay: I started my career in international development. I worked all over the world with diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors. We were working to address society's most persistent challenges, things like poverty, child labor, unemployment, and environmental justice. That work and those roles in international development really led me to Rodan and Fields, where I've helped start our ESG practice in 2019. We were able to launch our inaugural report in 2020.

Eliana: That's awesome, Lindsay. Congratulations on your inaugural reporting and the progress that you've made so far. Can you tell us how you made the case for launching the strategy?

Lindsay: The strategy development certainly looks different for everybody at Rodan and Fields. We were really able to lean into and leverage our corporate culture of innovation to stand up ESG. When you are a company that is driven by innovation, that is something that drives our new solutions into skin and hair care challenges. We're continually looking at how we drive innovation for product development, but it's also within that culture where innovation is really relentlessly pursued that there is an openness to new ideas. Sustainability at the time was a newer idea for us, at least as a formal strategy, but there was an openness to embarking on it. So that's really how we started to leverage the case for it. I think a secondary factor that was equally important was really working within our existing corporate ecosystem to find things that were already happening and reframing those efforts so that people who were leading them could understand how they connected to a material environmental, social, or governance issue. And that connection wasn't going to detract from their work or detract from business growth and progress, but rather was going to enable us to help reduce any risks and drive long-term value creation. I think it really was largely about connecting those dots between what people were doing and aligning them with ESG topics and a language that they could understand, and that was really critical for bringing people on board and ultimately having our leadership sign off on the strategy.

Eliana: Rodan and Fields has set science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Can you share with us a little bit more about how these goals were established and the progress that you've made in reducing your emissions across scopes one, two, and three?

Lindsay: We started our climate journey in 2020, obviously, it was front and center to our larger ESG strategy that we just talked about. With climate, we knew that phase one really needed to be about understanding our own footprint as a company. So that meant we needed to embark straight away on getting a full GHG footprint across all scopes one, two, and three. This baseline from 2020 is the point from which we assess all of our progress to date. Once we had that full footprint in place, we developed an emissions reduction roadmap, and that roadmap really enabled us to identify the hotspots in our footprint. Those are the places where we were seeing the most emissions coming from, and then assess the actions that we could take to reduce the emissions in those areas. From there, we said, okay, what do we want our goal to be? We understood what our footprint looked like, we understood where the problem areas were. We started to understand some of the actions that we could take to drive down emissions in those areas. And then we were looking at, so what do we want to commit to here? For us, setting a science-based target made sense for Rodan and Fields. Again, going back to the culture of the company and our brand position, we're a company that was started by two dermatologists. We have products that are rooted in science, and so setting a science-based target was the obvious choice for us. Our science-based target was a reduction in absolute scope one and two emissions by 50% and a reduction in absolute scope three emissions by 20% by 2030, and we've made some good progress in our first year. We reduced our absolute scope one and two emissions by 25% compared to our 2020 baseline. Our scope three emissions, we are in the process of finalizing the baseline now. So, we don't have an exact year-over-year comparison just yet, but the progress that we've made so far has been really exciting and it's really a testament to the commitment of our employees and all of the work that we're doing to drive towards those targets.

Eliana: Can you tell us a little bit about what projects or initiatives have had the biggest impact on your emissions reductions so far?

Lindsay: We've had a few different initiatives that have been really critical to driving our emissions reductions. The first one that comes to mind is energy efficiency. When we did that initial GHG footprint assessment, one of the things that we learned was that the majority of our emissions were coming from energy consumption at our owned facilities. We took that information and we said, okay, what can we do to drive down those emissions? And the answer really came back to energy efficiency. We embarked on a number of different projects to drive energy efficiency across our global portfolio of owned facilities. Those projects included things like LED lighting upgrades, HVAC upgrades, and building automation system optimization. We also invested in a renewable energy project. It's a solar PV system that's located at our global distribution center in Ohio. That project actually came online in 2021, so we saw the impact of that in our 2021 emissions data. And then I think another critical piece that I would highlight here is our efforts to engage our supply chain. We knew going into this that our supply chain emissions were going to be significant. We're a company that is in the business of selling physical products, and so we knew that there were going to be emissions associated with the production of those products and the transportation of those products. We started engaging our suppliers on this topic. We said, "Hey, this is something that's important to us, and we want to start working with you to understand what's happening in your operations and where we can collaborate to drive emissions reductions together." And so we've embarked on a number of different projects with suppliers in our supply chain to drive emissions reductions there as well. I think those are probably two of the big areas that I would highlight as being critical to our emissions reduction efforts to date.

Eliana: I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rodan and Fields has set some ambitious goals in this area. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you're doing to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization?

Lindsay: Diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that is incredibly important to us at Rodan and Fields. We recognize that in order to be successful, we need to have a workforce that is representative of the diverse world that we live in. We've set some pretty ambitious goals in this area, as you mentioned. We're striving to achieve gender parity globally at all levels of the organization by 2030, and we're striving to achieve racial and ethnic parity in the US at all levels of the organization by 2030 as well. We know that in order to achieve those goals, we need to take a multi-faceted approach. And so we're really focused on three different areas within our DEI strategy. The first area is around representation. So how do we make sure that our workforce is representative of the diverse world that we live in? And that really involves things like setting targets, measuring our progress against those targets, and holding ourselves accountable for achieving those targets. The second area that we're focused on is around creating an inclusive culture. So it's not enough to just have a diverse workforce. We also need to make sure that people feel included, that they feel like they belong, that they can bring their full selves to work every day. And so we're doing a lot of work in that area as well, things like unconscious bias training, inclusive leadership training, and really creating opportunities for people to connect with one another and build those relationships across differences. And then the third area that we're focused on is around equity. So how do we make sure that everyone has access to the same opportunities for growth and advancement within the organization? And that really involves things like pay equity, making sure that our promotion processes are fair and transparent, and really creating those pathways for advancement for everyone within the organization. So those are some of the key areas that we're focused on within our DEI strategy, and we're making good progress, but we know that there's still a lot of work to be done.

Eliana: Now, I want to talk a little bit about innovation. Rodan and Fields is known for its innovative products and its commitment to science. Can you tell us a little bit about how sustainability fits into your innovation strategy?

Lindsay: Sustainability is really at the heart of our innovation strategy at Rodan and Fields. We believe that in order to be successful in the long term, we need to be delivering products that not only deliver results for our customers but also minimize our impact on the planet. And so we're really focused on integrating sustainability into every stage of the product development process, from ideation all the way through to launch. One example of this is our packaging innovation. We know that packaging is a significant source of waste in the beauty industry, and so we're really focused on reducing the environmental impact of our packaging wherever possible. One way that we're doing this is by incorporating more sustainable materials into our packaging. So we're looking at things like PCR, which is post-consumer recycled plastic, and we're also looking at alternative materials like bamboo and sugarcane that have a lower environmental impact. We're also looking at ways to reduce the amount of packaging that we use overall. So we're looking at things like packaging-free formats and refillable packaging options that allow customers to reuse their packaging multiple times. And then I think another area that I would highlight is around ingredient sourcing. So we know that the ingredients that we use in our products can have a significant impact on the environment, and so we're really focused on sourcing ingredients in a responsible and sustainable way. We're looking at things like organic and fair trade certifications, and we're also looking at ways to minimize the environmental impact of the farming practices that are used to produce those ingredients. So those are just a couple of examples of how sustainability fits into our innovation strategy, but it's really something that we're thinking about across the board in everything that we do.

Eliana: What are some of the key priorities for Rodan and Fields in the coming years, both in terms of sustainability and more broadly?

Lindsay: In terms of sustainability, one of the key priorities for us in the coming years is really around scaling our efforts. We've made some good progress to date, but we know that in order to achieve our long-term goals, we need to be scaling our efforts pretty significantly. And so we're really focused on looking for opportunities to drive emissions reductions across our value chain, from our owned operations to our supply chain to our customers. We're also looking at ways to further integrate sustainability into our product development process and really embed it into our DNA as a company. And then I think more broadly, one of the key priorities for us is around growth. So we're really focused on continuing to grow our business and expand into new markets around the world. We recently launched in Japan, which is a really exciting opportunity for us, and we're looking at other markets as well. And then I think another key priority for us is around innovation. So we're really focused on continuing to innovate and bring new products to market that deliver results for our customers and also minimize our impact on the planet. So those are just a couple of the key priorities that we're focused on in the coming years, but there's obviously a lot more that we're working on as well.

Eliana: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Lindsay. It's been really great to hear about all the amazing work that Rodan and Fields is doing in the sustainability space and beyond.

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