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It’s What You See That Matters in Transparency

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It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see – Henry David Thoreau -

A few months ago, I started a series of blog posts on Practical Environmentalism. This post is the fifth and last of that series. To recap, this one was preceded by the following:


As I have referenced in the past, the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) defines transparency as “the openness of an organization with regard to sharing information about how it operates.” It’s a good definition and one we can use here. Transparency should help in what Thoreau references above – “…what you see” rather than “…what you look at” – in other words, understanding, context, and, ultimately, knowledge.


For Practical Environmentalism, I used a house as a symbolic example, with this building block of transparency representing the windows. Transparency allows external stakeholders to look in - to see what’s inside. However, windows allow viewing in both directions – they allow the residents to look out. So, for me, transparency is about seeing what stakeholders want and need to know, but, it’s also about helping to decide on the metrics that aid decision-making and strategic planning – in essence, about viewing the landscape in order to be sustainable into the future.


As a result, the 2009 FedEx Global Citizenship Report is titled, “Everything is Connected,” and naturally, provides data points that detail performance. But, as importantly, it also includes information of strategic initiatives we have underway, including:

  • Collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy on the intersection of trade policy and environmental stewardship
  • FedEx-sponsored trade missions, including one on Green Trade
  • Coordination and sponsorship of the World Resources Institute’s EMBARQ –The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico


I hope it is of value to our stakeholders. It certainly is to us.


Understanding, context, and ultimately, knowledge. That’s the goal of transparency to me.


For further information, the 2009 FedEx Global Citizenship Report includes the following data points:

  • Revenue
  • Operating Margin
  • Diluted Earnings Per Share
  • Aircraft Emissions Percent Decline
  • Utilities Emissions Tracking
  • FedEx Express Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Improvement
  • Renewable Energy
  • Charitable Giving
  • Volunteer Hours
  • Full-time U.S. Retention Rate
  • Women in Management Roles Globally
  • Employee Engagement
  • Enterprise Scope I, II, and III CO2 Emissions
  • Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Count
  • Renewable Energy Credits
  • On-Site Solar Energy Generation
  • EPA Smartway Transport Partnership Environmental Performance Scores
  • Aircraft Emissions
  • Waste Streams
  • Recycling
  • FedEx Office Paper SKUs with Recycled Content
  • Packaging Fiber Composition
  • Charitable Giving and Shipping
  • Mobile Response and Disaster Management Units
  • American Red Cross Information
  • Heart To Heart Information
  • Safe Kids Walk This Way Volunteers
  • Volunteer Hours
  • FedEx Global Team Members
  • U.S. Workforce Ethnicity
  • Total Corporate Spending: Minority, Women-owned and Small Businesses
  • Women in the Global Workforce
  • Women in Management Roles Globally
  • U.S. Ethnic Minorities in Management Roles
  • Small Business Spending
  • Select Awards and Recognitions
Comment (1) 

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I love the fact that Fedex is leading the way to a more sustainable existense. The progress in fuel usage alone contributes not only to a better enviornment but also to a more financially stable company. I believe we should all get on board and come up with new and inovative ideas to help our company move faster in this direction!

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About This Blogger

Mitch discusses sustainability, governance and energy management.

Other Posts by Mitch Jackson