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An interview with Cathy Budd of Dow, a new TfS member

TfS interviewed Cathy Budd, Vice President of Purchasing of Dow. Dow joined TfS in October. Cathy Budd confirms that TfS membership has broad implications for Dow. Externally Dow will give a strong signal to its broad stakeholder community that they take sustainable development across supply chains very seriously. Internally, TfS offers Dow an important platform to share experiences on sustainability issues with other member companies. The world of sustainability is expanding at such a pace that sharing best practice and learning from peers are key to grow and adapt quickly.

Cathy Budd is very much looking forward to shaping the future of the chemical industry, together with the other members. According to Mrs Budd a shared approach to ESG risk identification and assessment will be beneficial as the industry plans for upcoming regulations. In addition, Dow is also keen to advance a streamlined approach to scope 3 greenhouse gas accounting. Bringing forward a unified approach, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Pathfinder initiative for product carbon footprints, can help companies across all sectors to achieve greater transparency in their climate impacts, and track Dow’s progress towards its climate goals over time, says Cathy Budd.

Lastly, Cathy Budd is also thrilled to partner with TfS members to continue elevating the Inclusion & Diversity journey.

 Q: Can you briefly describe your company and position?

About Dow

Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth, asset integration and scale, focused innovation, and leading business positions to achieve profitable growth. The Company’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive, and sustainable materials science company, with a purpose to deliver a sustainable future for the world through our materials science expertise and collaboration with our partners. Dow’s portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings, and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility, and consumer care. Dow operates 106 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 35,700 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $39 billion in 2020. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information, please visit or follow @DowNewsroom on Twitter.

About Cathy Budd’s position:

Cathy Budd is Vice President of Purchasing for Dow.  In her role, Cathy is responsible for developing and implementing Dow’s $20 billion purchasing strategy and oversees the Company’s supplier relationship management strategy.

Q:  What does it mean becoming a TfS member?

I’m thrilled that Dow has become a TfS member. Looking externally, entering a collaboration around sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) with the biggest companies in the chemical sector sends a strong signal to our suppliers, customers, investors, and society more broadly, that we are serious about accelerating sustainable development efforts across our supply chain and we are ready to work together to tackle the world’s biggest challenges – such as climate change and fair trade. Looking internally, becoming a TfS member gives us a platform to share and get feedback on the work we have been doing on sustainability and to learn what other members are doing. The world of sustainability is expanding so quickly, it’s important we all share best practices and new learnings so we can grow and adapt as quickly as possible.

Q: Can you describe your view on sustainability in supply chains globally?

Dow’s supply chain is vast, with over 30,000 suppliers based in over 100 countries, covering extraction, manufacturing, logistics, finished products and more. Since Dow’s reach is so broad, our supply chain is not only a crucial element of Dow’s ability to do business but also an opportunity to advance sustainable development worldwide. Issues like climate change, fair labor, and diversity can all be integrated into our supply chain management techniques, encouraging responsible production of the products and services Dow procures. Our supply chain is also critical to reaching Dow’s ESG goals around climate change, circular economy, and safer materials.

Q: Can you describe your approach to sustainable supply chains, sustainable procurement?

Dow is increasing our investment in sustainable procurement. In 2021, we launched a new multi-generational sustainable procurement strategy, providing a strong foundation to run and grow our program. Our sustainable procurement has three key pillars. First is to inspire both our staff and our suppliers on Dow’s outlook towards sustainability and our ESG goals, providing training and identifying incentives for improvement. Second is to engage suppliers in ESG. This is achieved by embedding ESG in all procurement processes and agreements, like tenders and contracts, and ESG data collection, all of which will be further enhanced with our forthcoming Supplier ESG Program. This Program will provide even more opportunities to inspire and engage our suppliers, building collaborations to – now building to our final pillar – improve. Improvement is, of course, the bottom line – reducing negative impacts on the environment and society. Dow views improvement within the supply chain as a responsibility for all suppliers, but also as an opportunity for collaboration.

Q: What drove you to take the decision to join TfS and why TfS in particular?

Now is the perfect time for Dow to join and engage. TfS aligns perfectly with our new Sustainable Procurement plan, providing us with a critical opportunity to engage with our peers in the industry, whose membership includes Dow suppliers, customers, as well as peer companies sharing the same suppliers. As a group, we can advance critical sustainability initiatives that transcend competition, such as supplier data collection, audits, and technical advancements. Dow has an incredible team of passionate sustainability experts who are keen to join the network of TfS experts, knowing that together we will have a bigger impact than on our own.

Q: What does your company expect to gain from the TfS membership, how do you see the mid-to long term benefits from TfS membership?

Most exciting is TfS’s mission to shape the future of our industry together. The possibilities there are endless and inspiring. More concretely, one of Dow’s primary focuses within our Sustainable Procurement program is to further engage with our suppliers. With forthcoming supply chain due diligence policies and product eco-labels, the need to collect supply chain data and ensure that suppliers are complying with our ESG principles will become even more critical. We view our collaboration with TfS as an integral part of improving engagement, allowing TfS members to assess and audit suppliers using a common and trusted platform. We believe it is important to streamline ESG data collection efforts across the supply chain, synchronizing platforms will make it easier for suppliers to answer a myriad of requests and improve capacity to implement a harmonized set of methodologies.

Q: Taken the TfS approach into account, what do you hope to achieve in your network of partners?

There are so many things we can take on together. For one, a shared approach to ESG risk identification and assessment will be beneficial as the industry plans for upcoming regulations. Secondly, we are keen to advance a streamlined approach to scope 3 greenhouse gas accounting and know that other TfS members also want to do the same. Bringing forward a unified approach, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Pathfinder initiative for product carbon footprints, can help companies across all sectors to achieve greater transparency in their climate impacts, and track our progress towards our climate goals over time.

Q: Which challenges, opportunities do you anticipate encountering when rolling-out TfS in your organization?

With any new initiative, there is a need for education. For Dow, this extends to our suppliers and our internal staff. We are thrilled that TfS offers a Supplier Academy, which will help us to share consistent information with our suppliers and reduce duplication of efforts across the members. Internally, we expect a learning curve with our sourcing managers to process ESG data, some of which might include unfamiliar terms or concepts or learning how to include ESG information in discussions with suppliers. However, the mandate is clear within Dow that sustainability is part of running the business, so now is a perfect time to ramp up learning and engagement on sustainable procurement and we are looking forward to collaborating with TfS to advance our shared learnings.

Q: TfS is a member-driven initiative: CPO and other professionals of the TfS member companies exchange best practice, drive the initiative forward and shape the future of the chemical industry. What are your thoughts on this?

Sustainability is a group effort, especially as it relates to the supply chain. Sustainable procurement is quickly becoming one of the most critical areas of ESG and there is a vast opportunity for Dow and the chemical industries members of TfS to make a big impact and to advance global environmental and social equity impact.

Dow is keen to work with TfS to further advance ESG through TfS assessments across our supply chain and accelerate the supplier engagement and commitment and elevate the ESG journey in our industry.

Q: Where do you see yourself contribute to the TfS initiative, also take your sustainability expertise into account?

I am a big believer that a diverse workforce and inclusive culture bring wide-ranging, fresh perspectives on how to tackle the global ESG challenges and accelerate efforts through innovative solutions. Inclusion & diversity is deeply embedded in Dow’s corporate strategy with key performance indicators and measures in place for effective, sustained performance. Also, Dow began its Supplier Diversity journey at the end of 2017. We were benchmarked as an Advanced Process by Ralph Moore and Associates and later rose to #3 on DiversityInc’s Supplier Diversity Specialties List in 2020. Since 2017, we have become a leader in this space and participate in industry partnerships to help advance Supplier Diversity across the globe.

Dow is thrilled to partner with TfS members to continue elevating the Inclusion & Diversity journey in Dow and the chemical industry. Dow employs a wide range of passionate sustainability and procurement experts, who are all keen to join into TfS discussions to advance our work and capabilities. One area of expertise is in carbon emissions; our sustainable procurement staff have been involved in authoring and contributing to carbon accounting methods like the Global Logistic Emissions Council Framework, WBCSD Pathfinder, and Science Based Targets guidelines. I am happy to bring this expertise to TfS to further guide and build joint initiatives around climate impact accounting and target-setting.

Q: Any closing remarks?

Dow Purchasing is committed to advance sustainability thru enhanced collaborations and partnerships with suppliers. It requires a diverse workforce that brings wide-ranging, fresh perspectives on how to tackle global challenges. Inclusion is a powerful catalyst that accelerates customer-centricity, sustainability, and innovation. Dow is thrilled to partner with TfS members to continue elevating the inclusion & diversity journey in the chemical industry.

Dow is committed to build a more sustainable future and reach a better tomorrow for all.

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