On March 21, 2022, we were excited to announce a major milestone in our efforts to advance our comprehensive approach to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives with the publication of our first-ever Benchmark Sustainability Report. The report highlights the work we are doing across the globe and within the five tenets of our ESG strategy – Environmental Responsibility, Our People, Our Community, Governance, and Our COVID-19 Response. In today’s blog, we’ll highlight some of the key ESG/Sustainability successes across each of the five tenets, which are included in the report that you won’t want to miss.
Benchmark’s commitment to environmental responsibility is an ESG focus that starts at the corporate level with rigorous goal setting followed by purposeful action. Our Energy Management and Saving Guidelines have been in place since 2012 and include procedures for reducing our waste sent to landfills, purchasing environmentally responsible products, and reducing energy and water consumption.
We minimize our environmental impact by reducing waste sent to landfills through recycling, purchasing environmentally responsible products, and reducing energy and water consumption. All of Benchmark’s sites also comply with local water laws and regulations. Beyond compliance, wherever possible, sites have demonstrated a commitment to water efficiency and conservation by, among other things, utilizing hands-free faucets, toilets, and water fill stations to limit water usage. Since 2019, Benchmark has reduced annual water withdrawal by over 40,000 cubic meters.
Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been another major ESG priority for Benchmark. In 2021, Benchmark formed an Inclusion Council and engaged an experienced consultant to help design and implement a comprehensive DEI strategy. Supporting initiatives included organizational training, refreshed company values, review of our pay equity, and a revitalized recruitment strategy focused on building a more diverse team. One key highlight from our diversity audit is that women comprise 52% of our total workforce of 11,000 individuals worldwide, and hold 20% of our senior leadership roles. You can also learn more about our DEI strategy in this Q&A with our CHRO, Rhonda Turner, and diversity consultant, Katee Van Horn.
Philanthropy and volunteering are also deeply ingrained in Benchmark’s culture. Through our ONE Benchmark Foundation, which is funded by employee and company donations, we support Benchmark employees and humanitarian efforts around the world. Since its founding in 2017, the Foundation has distributed over $320,000 in seven countries to charities and employees in need. Additionally, Benchmark sites, leaders, and employees have personally engaged in a wide variety of social giving and volunteering programs, including:
- Providing donations to Treasures 4 Teachers, a back-to-school supply drive to benefit local teachers and families within our community in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Donating food to a local orphanage, Casa Hogar Estancia de Maria in Guadalajara, Mexico. Employees at the Benchmark Guadalajara site are also involved in a project to reforest one of the biggest forest areas in Guadalajara (Bosque de la Primavera) that was devastated last May by forest fires.
- Benchmark employees in our Ayutthaya, Thailand site developed an innovative solution for their food waste, turning it into compost for a vegetable garden. The vegetables and compost are available for purchase by the community, with proceeds funding further community activities such as cooking lunch for local schoolchildren.
Our Board of Directors includes three standing committees: the Audit Committee, the Human Capital and Compensation Committee, and the Nominating, Sustainability & Governance Committee. The membership of these standing committees is comprised entirely of independent directors.
- The Audit Committee is primarily responsible for assisting the Board in fulfilling its responsibility to oversee management’s conduct of the Company’s financial reporting process, including the integrity of the Company’s financial statements and performance of the internal audit function.
- The Human Capital and Compensation Committee is responsible for overseeing the Company’s human capital practices and management compensation philosophy, including incentive compensation and equity-based plans for executives.
- The Nominating, Sustainability and Governance Committee, updated in 2021 from the Nominating and Governance Committee, is responsible for identifying and recommending to the Board individuals qualified to become Board members, making recommendations to the Board concerning committee appointments, and has direct oversight of the Company’s ESG policies and programs.
Our COVID-19 Response
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the health and safety of Benchmark’s employees and their families has been our highest priority. In March 2020, Benchmark’s management team created a COVID-19 Task Force, comprised of a cross-functional advisory team of Company leaders committed to promoting the health and safety of our employees in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In 2021, we continued the evaluation and evolution of our flexible and possible remote working arrangements that began in 2020.
Through the ONE Benchmark Foundation, we made donations in 2020 and 2021 to the families of employees who passed away to assist with funeral expenses. More information on the Foundation is available in Chapter 4 of the 2021 Sustainability Report. We have also provided corporate donations and assisted with charitable and fundraising efforts in our local communities to assist community groups and community members impacted by the pandemic.
Benchmark has also played a crucial role with engineering and manufacturing services to help in the global fight against COVID-19, showing our commitment to being there when our customers, and those they serve, need us most – when it matters. We were a major contributor to essential businesses producing innovative medical devices to allow healthcare professionals to prevent, test, and treat the virus.
This is just a preview of our ESG/Sustainability efforts and successes in 2021. To check out the Benchmark 2021 Sustainability Report in its entirety, please visit our sustainability page or download it directly. Our collective commitment to Benchmark’s ESG strategy is an important element of building a better future for us all!