Continuing our series of reports on multinational corporations, today we are going to explore the sustainability initiatives of 3M. The 3M Company is an American multinational conglomerate corporation operating in the fields of industry, worker safety, US health care, and consumer goods. The company based in Maplewood, a suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota, made $32.2 billion in total sales in 2020, and ranked number 96 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. As of 2018, the company had approximately 93,500 employees, and had operations in more than 70 countries.
1. What does 3M do?
3M produces over 60,000 products under several brands, including adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, personal protective equipment, window films, paint protection films, dental and orthodontic products, electrical and electronic connecting and insulating materials, medical products, car-care products, electronic circuits, healthcare software and optical films.
2. 3M’s Strategic Sustainability Framework
3M corporate Vision culminates in its ambition to improve every life. The Strategic Sustainability Framework directs 3M’s efforts to areas where it can make the greatest impact. The company has set clear commitments and an ambitious, long-term strategy that will leverage its passion for science. The intent is to use a science-based approach to tackle the challenges that are most material to 3M and critical to the planet and the people living on it. Building on its global capabilities and diverse technologies, 3M is focusing on three priority areas:
2.1 Science for Circular
The current global economy’s linear business model of “take, make, and waste” is depleting natural resources faster than they can be replenished and straining ecosystems. Imagine repurposing a piece of plastic at the end of its use, giving it another life as something else. Its use would become circular, and the end of use wouldn’t mean the end of life. A circular economy does more with less, keeps products and materials in use, designs out waste and pollution, and regenerates natural systems. At the core is an opportunity to develop technologies and business models that are restorative and regenerative by design. 3M views the circular economy as an opportunity to inspire leadership, innovation, and disruptive change, all driving impact for a sustainable future.
Under circularity, the company has committed to reduce manufacturing waste by an additional 10%, indexed to sales, by 2025, achieve zero landfill status at more than 30% of manufacturing sites by 2025, drive supply chain sustainability through targeted raw material traceability and supplier performance assurance by 2025, reduce global water usage by the following amounts: 10% by 2022, 20% by 2025, and 25% by 2030, indexed to sales; reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125 million pounds by 2025.
2.2 Science for Climate
The world’s natural environment is experiencing disruptive change. Factors such as rising sea levels, elevated pollution levels, poor air quality, resource scarcity, and extreme weather events have led to greater concerns about the future health of the planet and its people. 3M supports the global consensus set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement, and is acting on the 2018 findings of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by incorporating them into its goals, operations, and actions.
The company has committed to help the customers reduce their GHGs by 250 million tons of CO₂ equivalent emissions through the use of 3M products by 2025, improve energy efficiency indexed to net sales by 30% by 2025, reduce scope 1 and 2 market-based GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040, and achieve carbon neutrality in operations by 2050, increase renewable energy to 50% of total electricity use by 2025 and to 100% by 2050.
2.3 Science for Community
By 2050, the world population is expected to surpass nine billion people. Science is more important than ever to help our growing population live well. We need scientific solutions to global challenges like climate change, accessible health care, interconnectivity, and safe workplaces — and technical skills are increasingly required for all types of jobs. By investing in programs that promote a circular economy, fight against climate change, and create a more positive world through science, 3M inspires employees to make an impact on the world. 3M recognizes the importance of science and use it every day to improve the lives of people in communities around the world through its products and actions. It realises that in order to solve global challenges, there is a need for new technologies, creative scientists, and evidence-based policies and decisions to drive impactful change.
The company has committed to:
– Invest $50 million to address racial opportunity gaps in the U.S. through workforce development and STEM education initiatives by 2025
– Double the pipeline of diverse talent in management to build a diverse workforce by 2025
– Double the representation of Black/ African American and Hispanic/Latino employees in the U.S
– Advance economic equity by creating five million unique STEM and skilled trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025
– Provide training to five million people globally on worker and patient safety by 2025
– Invest cash and products for education, community, and environmental programs by 2025 • Maintain or achieve 100% pay equity globally
– Donate 300,000 skills-based work hours across the globe by 2025
– 100% participation in employee development programs to advance individual and organizational capabilities by 2025
3. 3M Foundation
3M and 3M Foundation help build sustainable communities through strategic investments and the thoughtful involvement of 3M businesses, sites, and employees worldwide who volunteer and leverage their skills and experience to make a difference in the world. 3M amplifies social impact by combining 3M employee expertise with its products, technologies, and philanthropy. 3M and 3M Foundation develop and implement strategies and partnerships with leading community organizations committed to equitable outcomes in the community.
To assure that our support benefits the communities being served, 3M and 3M Foundation assess the impact of prospective grants and employee engagement initiatives and provide signature partners with financial support to help evaluate outcome. In 2020, the company shifted it global commitment to focus on COVID-19 response and doubled down on prior commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the community.
4. COVID-19 Relief
Throughout 2020, in response to the global pandemic, 3M made financial donations, product donations, and designed products to help in the fight against COVID-19. 3M demonstrated leadership in the fight against COVID-19 through a $20 million corporate investment to support health care workers and other vulnerable populations.
4.1 $10 million — protecting and serving frontline health care workers
3M donated $10 million as the lead sponsor of the COVID-19 Fund for Community Health, established by humanitarian organization Direct Relief, to support health care workers’ safety and the essential services they provide at U.S. community health centers and clinics. A portion of this gift was used for the organization’s international efforts to address the pandemic
4.2 $5 million — Research & Development
3M awarded $5 million in grants to leading universities around the world to help advance scientific progress in the fight against COVID-19. 3M’s corporate medical director and its internal Medical R&D Council reviewed institutional nominations and provided guidance and insight on global representation. The projects funded were geographically dispersed to at least one educational institution in each area of the world: United States and Canada (USAC); Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and Asia Pacific.
4.3 $5 million — supporting vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19
In partnership with United Way, 3M donated $5 million toward promoting a safety net for families and vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19 around the world
4.4 Response to Community Needs
In addition to the initial $20 million investment, 3M and 3M Foundation listened to and learned from the nonprofit partners about their evolving needs during the pandemic. The company responded quickly by shifting millions of dollars in community investments to support basic needs in 3M communities impacted by COVID-19. Funds that were earmarked for specific programs were redistributed to support general operations and other in-the-moment needs. The response included global humanitarian aid support, STEM education capacity building, local hunger relief, and support for basic needs. A portion of 3M STEM education funding was used to create 3M’s Science at Home program and support partner school districts and their students as they shifted to distance learning throughout the school year.
5. Social Justice
When George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, it shined a light on longstanding racial inequities and made a huge impact on our community and our world. In response, 3M strengthened its focus in the areas of social justice, racial equity, and inclusion. It immediately established a social justice working group comprised of its Employee Resource Network (ERN) leaders to help administer an initial pledge of $2 million. The funds were divided into two categories: $1 million was allocated to fund social justice programs, and $1 million was dedicated to rebuilding our local community.
6. Empowering the next generation
3M empowers the next generation of scientists and engineers by supporting education initiatives that advance equitable outcomes in STEM for underrepresented students. its support is focused on strengthening the STEM and skilled trades ecosystem for underrepresented students by inspiring an interest in STEM, helping to improve academic outcomes, and supporting opportunities for students to attain STEM degrees and skilled trades certifications.
6.1 Science at Home
Science at Home was launched in April 2020 as a way to provide accessible, hands-on science to the 55 million students across the United States who were suddenly distance learning after schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online video library is a free resource that contains more than 20 experiments, each featuring a 3M scientist, engineer, or a special guest performing a simple experiment that follows the Next Generation Science Standards used by many states in the U.S. to measure science related education. The Science at Home program has expanded to more than a dozen countries.
6.2 Project Scientist
3M partnered with Project Scientist, an organization whose purpose is to ignite and cultivate confidence that a STEM career is attainable for any girl. Its Virtual Lab program served 1,670 girls in 2020 — 54% of whom were from underserved households. The Virtual Lab provided six weeks of virtual programs that included a weekly delivery of a hands-on STEM kit. Themes included Robotics & AI, Technology for Good, Food & Water Science, and Environment & Climate Change.
7. Road Safety in India
In India, approximately 38% of deaths among children ages 0 to 14, and 64% of deaths among teens ages 14 to 18, are due to road traffic accidents.1 Many accidents occur around schools. Drivers are going too fast and not paying attention in these busy, child-filled areas, and students are not sufficiently aware of and cautious about oncoming traffic.
Schools located in high-traffic and vulnerable areas in India urgently need a consistent road safety system around schools. 3M India is helping to improve students’ safety through a new program called 3M Young Change Agents for Road Safety (YCARS). In partnership with Concern for Road and Pedestrian Safety and United Way, YCARS empowers students to advocate for safer streets and develops them into change agents who can help design solutions around their schools. The program uses an education model that combines behavior change and engineering improvements, where road safety education is child-centered and asks the question, “What if the changes on the road were to come from children?”
8. Employee Volunteerism
3M offers a portfolio of skills-based volunteering programs for employees called 3M Impact, including 3M Impact Global, which sends employees to communities around the world to work on-site with local nonprofit organizations for two weeks. In 2020, 3M Impact Global planned to expand to 250 participants and 15 deployments. The Mexico and India deployments were completed in February, but due to COVID-19, the remaining deployments were put on hold. In 2020, 3M provided 14.6K work hours of skills-based volunteerism through 3M Impact.
At 3M, sustainability is tied to shared global needs. It believes strongly in collaborative action and recognize the importance of working across functions and organizations to spur innovation, expand our impact, and improve lives around the world.
Disclaimer: This report largely contains extracts from the 3M Sustainability Report 2021.