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Goals, Progress and Citizenship Reporting – Seeing the Forest for the Trees

November 4, 2008

“Life is a journey, not a destination – we determine our destiny by the direction we take.” – Anonymous

A thoughtful quote that is true with regard to life. But, for sustainability, I’d say that it’s both the journey and the destination that count. The sustainable journey, or our progress, is necessary as we proceed to the destination – our goals. But the destination is important since we strive to accomplish these goals. Otherwise, we don’t necessarily help our stakeholders – our shareowners, our team members, our customers and the communities in which we work and live. Just measuring the distance we’ve traveled is like being in the proverbial forest and noting how many trees we pass, rather than focusing on the direction we’re heading. Figuratively, it’s like not seeing the forest for the trees.

So, what else is needed? A compass for one. In the case of our sustainability, that compass is, in part, our FedEx Global Citizenship Report. It communicates what our role is with regard to global citizenship. It identifies our goals, or the destination we are trying to reach. And, it identifies the journey – how far we’ve come and, as importantly, how far we still have to go. We all know that the destination will change over time. When we get to where we’re going, there’s always that further improvement we’ll strive for in the distance. So, the accomplishment of goals serves as way stations towards continuous improvement. And, by the way, that need for continuous improvement is ingrained in the DNA of FedEx.

But for FedEx, what is our role with regard to global citizenship? Well, it’s to connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways. Doing so brings both benefits and challenges. It helps with economic development, it assists with community support and it relies upon the expertise of our people. But, we also recognize that the movement of goods has an effect on the environment.

That’s why the 2008 FedEx Global Citizenship Report is broken up into four sections.

Economics & Access discusses our economic performance, along with the concept of Access – the ability for people to connect to one another and to what they need, which ultimately creates opportunities and stimulates economies.

Environment & Efficiency discusses our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint through efficiencies and innovations that we and business in general can use to improve.

Community & Disaster Relief provides information around how we use our reach, speed and reliability to get vital resources to natural disaster sites around the world. In essence, we operate in the best, and worst, of times to supply what communities need.

And, last, but certainly not least, is our People & Workplace. It is our team members that provide value to our customers.  David Bronczek, CEO of FedEx Express, articulated this when FedEx and Environmental Defense Fund received Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government biennial 2005 Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership.

He was asked why we were encouraging other companies to use hybrid electric vehicles, rather than keep the technology to ourselves for competitive advantage. He said that it wasn’t FedEx’s first-in-business usage of hybrid electric commercial trucks that was a competitive advantage. Rather, it was the drivers of those hybrid trucks, along with our other team members, providing outstanding customer service each and every day that is our competitive advantage. The vehicles just made us more responsible, more efficient and reduced emissions to boot.

I couldn’t say it any better than that.


    Larry Rogero says:

    Congratulations on the release of the Global Citizen Report. It was a long time coming, and your leadership and commitment was a major driving force behind it happening. Good luck to you and FedEx on the journey ahead.

    Its great to see the word “stakeholder” being used and defined by you in your post. A step closer to greater transparency is a good thing for us all.

    Carl Hardeman says:

    Think of the MEM hub and its automated system of belts and gates and the streaming of endless packages efficiently and quickly and correctly.

    Imagine a USA wide system just like that with elevated electric two-way rail systems running along the interstate highway system with automated switching on and off of containerized freight (ULD’s). FedEx is the preferred service provider since it has the best local pickup/delivery service and best tracking and tracing and premium services.

    Clearly this would be almost as big as building the original interstate highway system, but no less dramatic in terms of speed and efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. And not having to fight the ever growing long walls of semi’s would be nice and safe.

    And some portion of freight is best transported by trucks, such as those too heavy or too large for ULD’s.

    We can either invent the future or play catchup.

    Einstein said it takes a different level of thinking to move beyond where the previous level of thinking brought us.

    We are limited by our imagination and courage to do audacious things.

    I am trying to obtain you email address to contact you as follow-up from the Walmart China event in which Fred Smith spoke. I work closely with the Walmart Sustainability team and have some information I wanted to forward to you.
    Dr. Jay S. Golden
    Director National Center of Excellence
    Arizona State University

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