Why do we exist? What good can we do in society?
These are questions that leaders of VF Corporation have been asking about their business. As part of a new campus speaker series called Purpose Driven Business, these business leaders will share insights about the company’s transformation into a purpose-led organization.
“We are honored to host this speaker series with VF as part of a multi-year, collaborative and strategic partnership between NC State and VF engaging Poole College of Management, the College of Textiles and the College of Design,” said Jessica Thomas, director of the Poole College Business Sustainability Collaborative (BSC).
BSC hosts the series, which kicked off Oct. 22 with Letitia Webster, the company’s vice president for sustainability and responsibility.
A Purposed Transformation
“We are a portfolio company with 30 unique brands. Our challenge was to create value within all our brands. How do we bring this whole portfolio of brands into one unified meaning?” Webster said.
The company underwent a significant research and strategy effort that identified its strengths, passions and impact. Capitalizing on its brands ‒– The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler and Reef to name a few ‒– VF united around a common purpose.
“We power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of our people and our planet,” Webster said.
With new purpose, the company updated its guiding principles, engaged its nearly 70,000 employees and began leveraging sustainability as a lens for innovation. By creating transformational value through its products, the company contributes toward transformational change.
For example, the company’s Made For Change sustainability program has reduced environmental impact and increased responsible sourcing in company products. Each factory involved in product manufacturing undergoes a compliance audit to ensure safe, sustainable working conditions and sourcing throughout the supply chain.
“We have to ensure we’re helping our workers and reducing our environmental impact,” Webster said.
Engaging Students and Business Leaders
Following each presentation in this speaker series, a Business Sustainability Collaborative student associate facilitates a question and answer session with the speaker. Rejaul Hasan, a Ph.D. candidate studying global apparel sourcing, led the conversation at the inaugural event.
VF returns to campus in early 2019 for the second in the four-part series featuring Roain Atwood, Director of Sustainability at Wrangler.
“Our mission is to prepare the next generation of business leaders to drive positive social and environmental impact,” Thomas said. “We are excited to have a forum for NC State students and other community members to discuss how VF is leading that charge, transforming into a purpose-led, performance-driven and value-creating organization.”