Ethics and Values Best Practices: Timberland

At Timberland, they bring a new meaning to “walking the walk”. Timberland is a company known for its incredible corporate culture and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Ethics, Ethics & Compliance on May 18th, 2010
One of the four core values at Timberland is a commitment to life in the workplace.
At Timberland, they bring a new meaning to “walking the walk”. Timberland is a company known for its incredible corporate culture and commitment to corporate social responsibility. Timberland is one of only 20 companies to land a spot on the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For List since its inception. Timberland has also been included in Ethisphere’s 2010 list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. At Timberland, they understand the value employees bring to the company.

Engaging in volunteer initiatives helps Timberland employees develop skills they can apply in the workplace, while contributing to a good cause and making a difference in the communities they operate in.

Making a Difference

At Timberland, CEO Jeffrey Swartz emphasizes the need for people to be good citizens—both in and out of the company. Timberland employees can receive up to 40 hours of paid leave each year to pursue volunteer projects and give back to the community. In the Fast Company article “Walking the Walk,” they write:

“What Swartz is really trying to do is to use the resources, energy, and profits of a publicly traded footwear-and-apparel company to combat social ills, help the environment, and improve conditions for laborers around the globe. And rather than using his company as a charity, he’s using the hard financial metrics of profit, return on investment, and shareholder return, to try to prove that doing good and doing well are actually self-reinforcing notions. The idea of helping others, Swartz believes, is a vision around which he is creating a more productive, efficient, loyal, and committed employee base, which in turn helps produce real results.”

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These events are not only good for the community, but they also benefit Timberland’s employees. Taking part in events such as Serv-a-palooza and other volunteer initiatives enrich the culture at Timberland by bringing employees together in an experience they may not receive elsewhere. Building and reinforcing relationships with co-workers is one of the many benefits gained by Timberland employees when attending these annual events. Timberland’s employees appreciate the actions taken by the company to follow through with their commitment to sustainability and corporate citizenship. It’s important to note these events take place in every country Timberland operates in.

In “Sustainability: sprucing up corporate social responsibility with Timberland,” a Personneltoday interview with Helen Whinfrey, Timberland’s senior manager for European HR, she stated:

“We have a philosophy about our employees doing well and doing good,’ she says. ‘People perform better in their job if they have a connection with their work that isn’t just about pay. It also means the local community knows who we are – we don’t want to be a faceless business with no connection to where we work and trade. Of course we’re a commercial enterprise, but we believe the way we generate profit, treat our people and work with the local community puts that profit in different light.”

Fair, Safe and Non-Discriminatory Workplaces

One of the four core values at Timberland is a commitment to life in the workplace. The company has developed a Code of Conduct Team comprised of 15 individuals responsible for developing the decisions, actions, choices, program design, and strategy at Timberland.

Here are the key areas of workplace improvement as identified by Timberland executives. The list can be found on their corporate website under ‘CSR Strategy’ in the ‘About Us’ section:

  • Track relevant Supply Chain indicators that influence global human rights
    • Measure the average initial assessment score for new factories and set targets for improvement.
    • Measure the percent of production in “High Priority” factories and set targets for improvement.
  • Use the assessment process to highlight issues and prioritize factories in our value chain
    • Reduce “High Priority” factories to 20% of supply chain by 2015.
    • Reduce working hours violations to 30% of supply chain by 2010.
  • Through remediation, work with factory management to enact sustainable change by focusing on the root cause(s) of issues
    • Increase the percentage of continued business factories with an improved assessment score to 70% by 2015.
    • Increase the percentage of continued business factories with an improved health and safety score to 70% by 2010.
  • Create a sustainable living environment for our workers.
  • Develop a better understanding of life skills, child care, access to capital, health and nutrition, housing and transportation through the assessment process.

Striving to better understand working conditions in every country of operation demonstrates the emphasis placed on supporting employees at Timberland. The unique culture at Timberland helps the company attract highly qualified individuals who share similar values and are passionate about their work.  Living conditions and the way of life are different across all borders, therefore, a single solution isn’t the answer—and Timberland executive get it. The volunteer projects and events taken on by Timberland employees helps achieve the goal of creating sustainable living environments for all employees. Understanding diversity and the benefits it brings to the company makes Timberland an employer of choice for many individuals.


Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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