In this interview, two LP leaders offer their unique insights into LP’s just-released 2021 Sustainability Report, which describes the company’s approach to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. As they explain, the new report covers not only LP’s response to conventional environmental issues—such as climate change and greenhouse gas emissions—but also the equally important role of developing employees, diversifying its workplaces, supporting its communities, and innovating carbon-conscious products.
As LP’s Director of Sustainability and Public Policy, Donna Kopecky provides oversight of the company’s environmental sustainability initiatives, leads public policy initiatives and advocacy, and ESG programs.
Q. Why is LP releasing a Sustainability Report?
Kopecky: This report is proof of our company’s long-term commitment to sustainability. I have been with the company for over 24 years, and I have witnessed first-hand the commitment to responsible forest stewardship, the protection of the environment when it comes to manufacturing, and the commitment to the well-being of our employees and communities we operate in. We take our commitment to sustainability very seriously, and I believe our 2021 Sustainability Report effectively tells our great story with our stakeholders worldwide. We’ve codified our beliefs and practices regarding sustainability within this report, itemizing the many ways LP is working to improve our efforts.
Q. LP is undertaking a climate change risk and opportunity assessment. What is entailed in the framework LP is using—by the Financial Stability Board's Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)—and why is it important?
Kopecky: The TCFD framework includes a company’s recommendations regarding governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. In a nutshell, this assessment will help ensure that LP’s business remains financially resilient and transparent while addressing the global challenges presented by climate change. It will also demonstrate the actions we plan to take in order to transition to a low-carbon economy. We plan to publish our first TCFD report in 2022.
Q. LP is benchmarking greenhouse gas emissions. Why is it important to consider emissions across the manufacturing and supply chain?
Kopecky: First, it’s important to quantify our carbon footprint. We’re working to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the spectrum—from product manufacturing through supply chain channels. Secondly, it gives us the data we need to establish an initial baseline that can be used to establish measurable targets and goals for reducing carbon emissions in the future.
Q. What makes wood one of the most sustainable building materials and are there misconceptions surrounding the sustainability of wood?
Kopecky: Wood products make excellent building materials for many reasons. While there are some general misunderstandings about the sustainability of wood products, these are easily debunked. Wood is a highly renewable resource when properly managed, as LP does. In fact, sustainably managed forests help to maintain a balance of forest age classes (young to old) across the landscape to ensure forests remain healthy and provide habitats for an array of plant and animal species. In addition, wood building products are more sustainable not only because they come from renewable resources and store carbon over their lifetime, but also because they are less energy intensive to manufacture as compared to products made from concrete or steel, resulting in more climate-friendly building products.
Robin Hirsch Everhart joined LP as SVP, Chief HR and Transformation Officer in 2019. Her leadership has been critical in helping employees execute the company’s transformation strategies that contributed to a 150% rise in stock price over the past two years.
Q. How and why does diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) play a role in LP’s holistic approach to sustainability?
Everhart: Companies are essentially linked to and inseparable from the communities in which they operate—where their employees live—as well as the markets they serve. It’s important for us to seek out talent pools of differing perspectives, skillsets and life experiences. We believe a diverse employee base improves our performance as a company and is directly related to our vision of being a leading building solutions company. You can’t do that without being innovative and strategic. DE&I is a formula for that success. As LP’s CEO Brad Southern will tell you, we define sustainability as doing the right thing today so we can build a brighter future for the generations to come.
Q. Why is DE&I important to the building industry?
Everhart: I think everyone realizes today that the building industry should reflect the country and the communities it serves. As the U.S. population becomes more diverse, the building industry should mirror these changing demographics to find qualified employees and to remain competitive. DE&I directly impacts financial profitability because it fosters diversity of thought and innovation and improves the workplace culture for every company in our industry. Additionally, we are missing a tremendous pool of talent if we aren’t willing to look outside of what might be traditionally familiar or known from industry standards. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do.
Q. What does LP mean when it encourages its employees to "Think and Act Like Owners”?
Everhart: Throughout LP, you’ll hear our Leadership Principle—Think and Act Like Owners—almost every day. It has become a driving motivator for our employees as we challenge ourselves to improve productivity, hold ourselves accountable, and make decisions as though we own the company ourselves. And, as a profit-sharing company, we are all owners of LP’s success. We are all empowered to maximize value, bring forth recommendations that can make us better, and hold ourselves accountable for delivering results. Our Leadership Principle is supported by eight leadership behaviors: be safe; insist on excellence; innovate and simplify; join forces; be curious; embrace differences; lean in and speak up; and have a bias for action. These eight behaviors are the framework for how we conduct ourselves every day. We understand what’s being required of us, we can ask ourselves if our actions and decisions fall within these guiding behaviors, and we can course correct according to these behaviors. They are easy to understand and encompass the passion we feel about the safety of our people, the innovation and quality of products and services we provide our customers, the high standards of work and respect to which we hold ourselves to, and the inclusion of our employees who work hard to make it happen day in and day out.
Q. How do you think LP's culture of "Think and Act Like Owners" can support DE&I goals and a culture of inclusivity?
Everhart: We believe that every employee has a role in ensuring that LP is an environmentally, socially and financially responsible company. It takes all of us. But, for all of us to play an integral role, we also have to ensure there is room for everyone to show up authentically. Our behaviors are designed to encourage us to remain curious, allow people to show up as they are, have a sense of urgency and bias for action as well as make room for everyone at the table. When employees reflect the communities where we work and where our products are used to build better homes, thinking and acting like owners gives us a sense of purpose and value. That’s good for our people and our company. What could be better than that?”
Since its founding in 1972, LP has been Building a Better World™ by helping customers construct beautiful, durable homes while our shareholders build lasting value. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, LP operates 25 plants across the U.S., Canada, Chile, and Brazil.
To learn more about LP’s holistic approach to sustainability, read the company’s entire 2021 Sustainability Report here.
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