NRF 2021: Social responsibility critical for keeping retail customers engaged

The pandemic and the U.S. presidential elections overshadowed what would have been the biggest story of almost any other year — the social movement that was triggered by the death of George Floyd and was amplified by subsequent race-related incidents. Even with COVID having a near existential impact on many retailers, their reaction to these events continues to be closely watched by consumers who are voting with their dollars on what kinds of companies they want to support. This has placed a focus squarely on corporate social responsibility (CSR) like never before.

The National Retail Federation Chapter 1 event held virtually this month featured a session titled “Social responsibility initiatives at The Home Depot and Ulta Beauty build authentic relationships” that made clear CSR is no longer a nice to have for retailers.

Being a socially responsible company is table stakes, according to Ron Jarvis, chief sustainability officer at The Home Depot, and it’s what keeps him up at night. “We know that our stakeholders — customers, employees and investors — are paying close attention to how Home Depot is impacting the world,” he said.