Community Engagement

Social Impact at Wayfair: A Q&A With Todd Bowers

As we shared our latest Corporate Responsibility report with the world, which offers a transparent look at our progress against our key commitments, we also saw an opportunity to have those who are most deeply involved in our core pillars – Our Communities, Our Workplace, and Our Planet – speak to them directly and offer their perspectives on our progress and achievements.

Below, read our Q&A with Todd Bowers, Wayfair’s Global Head of Social Impact, to hear his thoughts on social impact at Wayfair, how we drive change in our communities, highlights from our report, the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and more.

What does Corporate Responsibility mean to Wayfair and how does it turn that vision into action?

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Todd Bowers, Global Head of Social Impact

Corporate Responsibility (CR) can really be summed into a simple phrase: doing the right thing(s). Corporate Responsibility or Corporate Social Responsibility is the act of ensuring that Wayfair is socially responsible to itself, our stakeholders and most importantly, the public. These stakeholders can range from investors to the prospective customer. A major aspect is ensuring that Wayfair is a place that people want to shop with, engage with and most importantly, work for. Putting these concepts into action is the responsibility of everyone under the pinwheel.

To ensure that we have a robust program and are looking at all the elements of being a good corporate citizen, Wayfair created the Executive Impact Council, which consists of VP-level members who provide oversight on our metric-based Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. There are also sub committees, which bring together cross functional groups to help turn those goals into reality and have specific lanes of work. For example, the Social Impact Employee Programs Committee brings together leaders from Talent, Operations, Tech and Finance to ensure that Wayfair continues to support Wayfarians in times of need and provide them with the tools they need to give back to their communities.

Once the goals have aligned internally, it’s time to make the magic happen. That starts by leading with a purpose – and for us, that purpose is pretty clear. We are the destination for all things home and our goal is to give everyone, everywhere, that feeling of home. Taking care of our planet, housing the unhoused and making everyone feel welcome are the backbone of what we believe in, and where we can bring tangible change.

We focus on homelessness because everyone deserves a safe place to call home. We are working to lower our environmental footprint, including across our operations. We even give our customers the opportunity to Shop Sustainably so they can come on the journey with us. Lastly, and most importantly, we focus on our people and making our fellow Wayfarians feel supported and welcome to be a part of the Wayfair family.

Is there anything you're particularly proud of in this latest Corporate Responsibility report?
There is a lot to be proud of in our latest Corporate Responsibility Report. First and foremost, I’m proud of the hundreds if not thousands of people that work behind the scenes who got us to where we are. If it wasn’t for the hard work of so many we would not have a story to tell or be able to share our progress, achievements and vision with the world.

One of the most significant changes to this year's report is that this is the first year we are reporting out on something called the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) and Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). These two external metric-based organizations provide the framework for accurately measuring our impact in communities and sustainability. This is no easy task, and our Corporate Responsibility team alongside stakeholders across the company have compiled hundreds of data points to ensure we are being transparent and accountable with our work against these two reporting standards. You can read more about those metrics at the end of the report.

I’m also incredibly proud of the way we have focused our efforts. It’s easy to get what we sometimes refer to as “mission creep,” when you are doing impactful work. Nobody wants to say “no,” to any issues that are negatively impacting communities – but we have learned that by staying laser-focused, we can bring everything we need to the table and move the needle on housing the unhoused and reducing homelessness. Doing a little bit everywhere isn't going to be a game changer, but if we put all of our efforts into making sure everyone everywhere has a feeling of home, then we can truly change the communities we serve.

What would you say are the biggest opportunities and challenges that lie ahead?
We are just skimming the surface of what we can do when we put our minds to it. Wayfair has been bringing together the best and the brightest talent for decades to solve complex problems for the business. Just imagine if we could fully leverage all our talents to bring big changes to big problems. I see our employee base as the biggest opportunity for us to make long lasting impacts on the issues we care about the most, and I believe that if we can tap into this incredible resource more efficiently, we can boost employee engagement in our communities and leverage sweat equity in a way that makes us all proud to be Wayfarians.

One other thing I’ll mention is that the challenges we face in this day and age are real. They are hard. They sometimes feel overwhelming. And we can’t always know what the next challenge will be. The last three years have taught us all how complex the world is. Global pandemics, racial strife, wildfires and wars – it seems like a never ending flow of those in need. But by focusing our efforts and having robust programs in place, we can be better positioned to act when there’s an opportunity to make a difference.

How does Wayfair continue to encourage and enable employees to get involved in Social Impact opportunities?
Our employees are at the crux of our social impact work. Wayfair is always looking to empower those who want to do good. Over the last two years, we have revamped and reinvigorated our Social Impact Employee Programs which give our employees the opportunities to harness their passions and turn that into real action. We offer paid time off for volunteering, donation matching benefits, and volunteering opportunities for our folks who are in-person, remote, and hybrid to name a few.

It’s important to us that we not only have these programs that our employees can utilize to give back, but that we recognize their efforts outside of the office as well. We started our “Making an Impact” internal storytelling campaign which shares stories of employees who are out in their communities making a real difference. Sharing these stories and continuing to build on the programs that empower our employees are so important to our overall social impact work, and employee engagement.