October 11, 2022
President, International Public Affairs and Sustainability, UPS
Senior Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Around the world, successful sustainability efforts have been a primary focus of discussion. Using innovative strategies and collaboration, many in the private and public sectors are seeking resilient solutions to handle supply chain issues, the pandemic, and global conflict.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Sustainability and Circular Economy Summit 2022, Marty Durbin of the U.S. Chamber led a conversation with Penny Naas, the President of International Public Affairs and Sustainability at UPS. The two discussed sustainability challenges in the business community and ways to counter them through collaboration.
How Sustainability Efforts Have Progressed at UPS
According to Naas, part of what makes a company sustainable is the good jobs they provide. As the largest unionized employer in the U.S., UPS currently has 534,000 employees, with drivers making roughly $95,000 a year, plus $50,000 in benefits.
“Being sustainable usually means you're being efficient,” Naas said.
On top of providing employees with good benefits, UPS is committed to investing in humanitarian efforts and local communities. Naas noted that the company is “very focused” on the communities they serve.
“Jim Casey, one of our two founders, set up the Annie E. Casey Foundation after his mother,” she said “We also have a UPS foundation [where] we work closely with the Chamber Foundation on a lot of things like humanitarian investments [and] investments in local communities. We're extremely committed to… [leaving] the planet a better place than when we arrived.”
A Worldwide Effort Is Needed to Solve Global Problems
While UPS has made great progress in going green, Naas acknowledges that there is more work to be done. Future goals, such as UPS’ 2050 Carbon neutral goal, cannot be achieved without the help of others around the world.
“A lot of these challenges we face are global,” Naas said. “Climate change doesn't stop at the border. It's something that requires international conversation... We really need to see that engagement, in a time where international engagement can be a bit challenged. If we can see something come out of that and the global community comes together, that's a win.”
She continued, describing the joint effort required around the world. “Civil society, companies, [and] governments need to come together, set common goals, and work together,” Naas said. “None of us can do it working independently.”
The Motivation Driving UPS’ Sustainability Goals
In a world where digitization is widely accepted and adapted, Naas believes going green should be viewed the same way.
“There's … challenges, but [also] opportunities,” Naas said. “There are ways to make money out of this. If you think about digitalization … it's a similar transformation to going green — and I think that there are similar benefits.”
She believes that investing in sustainability is the key to achieving green goals.
“The more you invest, the more customers you can attract, [and] the more investors … want to invest money in you in a certain way,” Naas explained. “If you can unlock that … there are ways to make this not just a win, but a win-win-win for us, for customers, for the planet, for governments, for everybody.”