Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Soul of Staples

I'm finishing out my Mission Statement series this week after a little hiatus.

Staples is next on my radar.  Staples is interesting, because their mission statement doesn't align with what I think many of us would have gone for:
"Staples Soul reflects our commitment to corporate responsibility. It's a holistic approach to business that recognizes the close connection between our financial success and our desire to make a positive impact on our associates, communities, and the planet by joining together the following areas: diversity, the environment, our community, and ethics. It's how we do business—that's Staples Soul."
I'll echo that "soulful" and "holistic" are not normally used to describe office supplies.  I'd expect that in a wellness retail chain—a natural, healthy, or organic brand, but office supplies?

Corporate responsibility is hip right now, and sustainability and eco-friendliness are hot buttons to push.  I wondered if this was all corporate greenwashing, but apparently, Staples has some solid legs to stand on.  On their website, they outline what each of the pillars of diversity, environment, community and ethics means to them.  They've invested in workplace diversity, comprehensive recycling, efficient and renewable energy, and community giving.  They even have a foundation, the Staples Foundation for Learning.  Their corporate governance and reporting also looks pretty transparent.  You can access annual reports and statements easily from their site.

I'm impressed.  Staples not only has a very efficient, user-friendly site and retail format, but they also aspire to and achieve a lot of pretty fantastic goals.  This looks like it's translated into some great dividends.  Staples achieved $24 billion in sales in 2009, and they rank second worldwide in e-commerce sales.  It looks like ethics, sustainability and a great selling platform will get you far.  Well, and a superb mission statement, but you didn't need me to tell you that.

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