Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG)
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is central to our business practices, the continuous improvement of our operations, and our relationships with our employees and the communities we call home. We have always focused on delivering strong financial results, and we remain committed to doing so in a way that respects the communities and environments in which we operate. That’s why we strongly consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investment and operational decisions. Doing so helps ensure that our business operations have a positive impact on the planet, the people whose lives we touch and our bottom line. In an effort to better inform our shareholders and the investment community of the numerous activities of our corporate office and dealerships, we have set up a constantly updated website that provides pertinent data on our corporate social responsibility. Please visit our website at group1auto.com/group1cares, or our web pages on LinkedIn and Facebook for more detailed information on our corporate social responsibility practices, including our charitable and philanthropic efforts in all three of our major markets.
We know that actively supporting the success and well-being of our employees is one of the best investments a company can make in its own sustainability. Workplace satisfaction is key to attracting and retaining the best talent, as well as fostering innovation and growth. To an increasing number of workers, job satisfaction has much to do with work/life balance, so scheduling is a primary consideration when making their decision to join or stay with a company. In 2017, Group 1 responded by piloting a flexible four-day schedule in four of our stores. Today, more than 50% of our technicians and more than 80% of our advisors are on the four-day schedule. They work the same hours for the same pay, but do so in fewer days — giving them the personal and family time they value. The result is happier employees, as evidenced by a double-digit improvement in retention for both technicians and advisors.
Community participation and charitable donations that enrich the communities we serve have always been a priority for Group 1, and are continuously encouraged and supported by our directors and senior management. We are proud of these efforts and our employees from our corporate office, business centers and dealerships around the world who generously give of their time and resources to benefit others. For more information about Group 1 Automotive's community involvement, please visit group1auto.com/group1cares.
We are committed to responsible business practices and continuous improvement of our operations and our relationships with our employees and the communities in which we live and work. Our core values - integrity, transparency, professionalism and teamwork - underlie our commitment to conduct our business in ways that are principled and accountable to key stakeholders and the business community. Our Governance & Corporate Responsibility Committee advises the Board on appropriate corporate governance guidelines and practices and assists our Board in implementing those guidelines and practices. Since 2014, we have added five independent directors to our Board, currently three of whom are women.
Group 1 Foundation
Group 1 Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of our business, was formed in 2005 (in response to Hurricane Katrina) to provide guidance, emotional support and financial assistance to Group 1 employees and their immediate families who suffer hardship due to natural disasters, emergencies, extended illness, injury, fire, flood or other special situations beyond their control. Funds are made available through fundraisers and contributions from employees, Board members and vendors, and are distributed to help employees and their families with temporary, critical expenses. In 2017 and 2018, affected employees were provided temporary living and related expenses after Hurricanes Harvey and Michael, and we distributed over $1.1 million among 321 employees. In 2019, we assisted employees in southeast Texas who were affected by Tropical Storm Imelda. Since 2015, we have disbursed $1.5 million to 428 employees.
Our commitment to sound corporate citizenship includes minimizing our impact on the environment, and doing what we can to contribute to a healthier planet. We work to establish sound policies that support environmental and safety issues, including a robust recycling program. We also have an obligation to spend our shareholders’ money wisely. When constructing our various facilities and considering the nature of our operations, we carefully choose projects that are environmentally responsible, economically viable and good for the company’s long-term financial success. In 2019, we focused on energy-saving initiatives such as LED lighting and solar energy. We’re encouraged by the success of these projects, and are eager to find more opportunities like these where good environmental stewardship improves our long-term financial results. We are committed to minimizing our environmental impact and continually look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.