Moving in the right direction
At a glance
A leading shipping company partnered with Slalom to push its ESG (environmental, social, and governance) strategy into overdrive.
We helped Forward communicate their approach with stakeholders, and uncover quick, efficient, and tangible solutions for implementation and adoption.
Meeting the demand
For over 40 years, Forward has flourished as a North American powerhouse in providing reliable ground transportation and related services for businesses of all sizes. Forward’s reputation for simplifying ground transportation has established the company as an innovator in the space. But when stakeholder inquiries about corporate responsibility began to swirl, Forward’s head of Corporate ESG, Katie Bishop, needed help developing an ESG strategy and narrative—and she needed it fast.
When Bishop started in the role, ESG was new to the company and a high-priority item for Forward’s CEO.
“We wanted to figure out a way to define what our story was, and how to tell it,“ says Bishop. “We wanted to make sense of all the external pressures for ESG reporting. We knew we were ready to begin developing our strategy and roadmap, and that we wanted to take our stakeholders along that journey with us.”
After previously identifying what components of ESG were the most impactful and meaningful for the business, and determining areas of measurement and action, the Forward team was ready to spring into action. Slalom performed a risk and opportunities assessment to reveal both the external and internal factors that could influence Forward’s ability to achieve its goals, competitiveness, mission, and vision.
Slalom helped the Forward team dig deep and develop their ESG framework. “We assessed their current state to see where they were going to focus moving forward, where they had risks, and where there were opportunities for them to innovate using ESG to be a leader in their industry,” says Slalom delivery principal Chantal Contijoch.
The Slalom team led a workshop with Forward stakeholders—uncovering 10 ESG top-priority areas that the company would further integrate into three pillars: People and Communities, Customer, and Environment.
“We gained their trust—particularly the CEO’s,” says Slalom delivery director Tim Purtill. “His sentiments were ‘We’re an action-driven company. How can you take this theoretical strategy stuff and make it actionable for us? We’re truck drivers. We’re doers. We’re not a philosophy club. Make it doable.’”
Honesty is the best policy
Slalom equipped Forward with a transparency report, openly sharing the company’s ESG journey, approach, initial commitments, and improvement activities with the company’s employees, contractors, communities, customers, partners, and investors. This decision created a standard for which Forward would lead in their ESG journey—one of honesty, transparency, and humility.
“It was a big decision for us to decide to go ahead and put out a report without having all the metrics and targets in place,” says Bishop. “But it was the best decision that we made. We understand that there’s a long journey ahead—and this report showed what we as a company value and our commitments.”
The Slalom team structured a program tailored to how Forward does business—focusing on main objectives and identifying actionable items.
With lasting success in sight, we also worked with Forward’s legal, HR, and finance teams to create a roadmap representing what they could achieve, who they were in the marketplace, and their long-term company goals.
“For a company just starting out on ESG this is exactly what you need,” says Bishop. “Somebody who you can trust, who will be real with you, understands where you are, where your company is, and knows that sometimes there’s not a black-and-white answer—but we can work together to figure out the best solution. I felt like I could always do that with Slalom.”
Forward’s actions gained stakeholder approval and peer admiration, positioning the company as a bold, authentic, environmentally focused, and socially responsible company. Today, Forward uses this roadmap to establish specific goals, baselines, and targets, and to guide its annual ESG reporting.
Pushing forward (pun intended), well equipped
With a solid ESG framework in place, Forward was able to create a microsite highlighting its ESG focus areas, and further demonstrating its commitments and long-term goals.
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