Our commitment: Ensure the secure and responsible use of data, value our associates, invest in the community, and protect the environment.
Message From Our CEO
Alliance Data enjoyed another year of solid growth in 2016, with financial performance outpacing that of our peers, the S&P 500, and the U.S. GDP. Equally important, it was another year in which we demonstrated our commitment to operating responsibly — doing what it takes to deliver on our short-term financial targets, while focusing on long-term, sustainable growth.
Since 2014, we’ve been focused on achieving the three-year goals set out in our corporate responsibility strategy related to data, people, community, and the environment. We’ve remained vigilant in protecting our data assets, as our practices and standards continuously evolved to safeguard consumer information and privacy. We invested in associate programs and our workplace to maintain industry-leading levels of engagement and enablement. We’ve made strong progress in community investment, investing over $25 million, representing a 125% increase over 2014. Our attention to our impact on the environment resulted in a 28% reduction in carbon emissions over the three-year period. All of these achievements are a testament to the commitment of our diverse and talented team of nearly 18,000 associates, who have rallied around the company’s goals and initiatives that guide our progress and successes.
Going forward, we’ll continue to evolve our approach to corporate responsibility just as the world around us evolves. The key to meeting — or better yet, exceeding — our stakeholders’ expectations will be seeking and responding to their ongoing feedback. We took a big step forward in 2016 by increasing our level of engagement with several stakeholder groups, including our associates, clients, suppliers, and key investors. Their input is invaluable and drives our decision-making and actions.
I hope you enjoy our 2016 report and see us for what we are: a responsible company committed to accountability and continual improvement, for the benefit of all our stakeholders.
We pursue our CR initiatives through four focus areas: responsible use of data, investment in our people and our communities, and protection of the environment. For each focus area, we establish an overall commitment and three-year goals that are linked to business priorities and plans. Annual performance against goals is reported in our annual Corporate Responsibility Report as a means of demonstrating transparency, accountability, and progress. Our current focus areas and commitments are:
Protect and nurture the vitality of our communities by investing in programs that demonstrate a measurable impact.
In 2017, we will be activating the outcomes of our materiality assessment, which may result in the need to redefine our focus areas to better represent our most significant priorities. We will share relevant updates to our strategy in the 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.
Understanding and addressing stakeholder expectations is an integral part of our approach to Corporate Responsibility. We seek to establish relationships that build trust and mutual respect and support our efforts to create shared value. In the past two years, we’ve significantly advanced our level of engagement with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders.
Here are some examples:
In 2016, we introduced a number of initiatives in response to monthly pulse survey feedback. One example is a new class called Mind Matters, which offers tips on how to decompress during the workday and better manage stress. In addition, we rolled out a survey to find out what associates thought about the new LED lighting installed in their building. The overwhelmingly positive results in favor of the new lighting prompted us to look at retrofitting more buildings.
The investment community has made it clear they want to be more engaged with our Board of Directors. Our General Council and Chairman of the Board started a proactive outreach program to engage some of our largest investors. One outcome of our discussions was the development and use of a skills matrix for our board to ensure a proper range of viewpoints and expertise in areas most critical to the company’s success.
We formalized our Government Relations function and established a Political Action Committee. This helps us engage government officials on issues affecting our business: cyber security and breach notification, data privacy, banking regulation, consumer lending and finance, and corporate tax reform. In 2016, Alliance Data and its U.S.-based businesses had just under 100 formal lobbying contacts with members of Congress, their staffs, and administration officials.
In 2016, we embarked on a formal, non-financial materiality assessment to identify and evaluate the topics that are most critical to our business and our stakeholders.
The assessment will be used to:
- Inform the update of our corporate responsibility strategy and programs;
- Monitor potential risks, opportunities, and emerging issues that could affect our future business success and stakeholder relationships; and
- Ensure a balanced and reasonable presentation of our corporate responsibility performance in our public reporting.
- Topic Identification: We developed a range of potential topics in the context of our economic, social, environmental, and governance impacts, based on input from internal and external sources.
- Prioritization: Stakeholders were invited to participate in a perception survey and rank the topics in terms of their significance to our stakeholders and the potential impact to the long-term sustainability of Alliance Data’s business. We then interviewed 20 internal and external stakeholders to understand why they felt certain topics were more significant than others, and what they thought we could be doing to better respond to those topics.
- Validation: The outcomes of the prioritization were validated through an in-person workshop with members of our Senior Leadership Team and in one-on-one conversations with Corporate Responsibility Council members and representatives from our lines of business.
Our top priorities are client satisfaction, leadership in data-driven marketing, and the secure and responsible use of data.
Read the full Materiality Assessment Overview here.
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