Sustainability at Dow Chemical

Authors

  • Kathleen M. Perkins,

    1. KATHLEEN M. PERKINS is a psychologist and the CEO of Miller Consultants, a firm specializing in leadership and team development as well as transformational change and innovation, founded in 1980. She assists client organizations in assessing and addressing the organizational leadership requirements for executing sustainability strategy and is the author of the SCALA™ (Sustainability Culture and Leadership Assessment) tool.
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  • Robert G. Eccles,

    1. ROBERT G. ECCLES is a Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School.
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  • Mark Weick

    1. MARK WEICK currently serves as Director for Sustainability Programs at The Dow Chemical Company. In this role, Mark directs the coordinated planning and implementation of the 2015 Sustainability Goals as well as sustainability integration across the company and business units. Weick is also responsible for directing Dow's future sustainability strategy. Weick began his Dow career in 1982 as a research engineer, and held various R&D and business leadership roles beginning in 1989. Weick was named to his current position in 2007.
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Abstract

Dow Chemical Company, which was founded in 1894, is now the second-largest chemical company in the world. From the outset, the company has been committed to high-technology research and commercial innovation in chemistry, advanced materials, and agro-sciences. But if Dow's long history of innovation is impressive, the greatest change in the past few years has been the company's use of innovation to reinforce its commitment to sustainability. In 1996, the company produced its first set of 10-year sustainability-related goals. In an effort to meet such goals, the company invested a total of $1 billion in environmentally beneficial products such as new seeds and traits in Dow's AgroSciences business, solar shingles, and advanced battery technologies. Along with the social benefit of higher crop yields and reduced carbon emissions, the company's return on this investment has been estimated at $5 billion.

The company was even more ambitious when setting its next set of 10-year goals in 2006. In this statement, Dow's leadership aimed to create a culture that saw sustainability as a business opportunity from the perspective of a “triple bottom line”—a performance evaluation scheme focused on “people, planet, and profit” that construes success in terms of social benefits, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity. Dow is now starting the process of developing its third set of 10-year goals, with the aim of producing a plan that will ensure the viability of the company 50 years from now. With this end in mind, Dow's leaders understand their obligation to continue investing in the health and well-being of their employees, their communities, and the environment while still creating value for their shareholders.

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