Trust from a Tradition of Transparency: A Q&A from SC Johnson’s 2017 Sustainability Report

For SC Johnson, honesty means proactively choosing to be transparent, to help people understand the whole story.
SC Johnson CSO: “Instead of just doing what we have to do, we do what we believe we should.”
People expect companies like SC Johnson to tell the truth when asked about their products. For us, honesty goes even further — it’s proactively choosing to be transparent, to help people understand the whole story.

As Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability, explains, SC Johnson is continuing its journey toward being more and more transparent.
Instead of just doing what we have to do, we do what we believe we should and that creates transparency for consumers and builds trust with them.
Kelly Semrau, Chief Sustainability Officer at SC Johnson
Today, trust is very low. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, less than half of the general population trusts business, government, media and nongovernmental organizations to do the right thing. And, it appears to be getting worse.

At SC Johnson, we believe trust has to be earned, and we think earning it depends on several things. First, our products must work as promised, every time, and do so safely. Second, we have to show how we create a great, safe workplace for SC Johnson people, and take care to protect the environment and improve the communities where we work. 

Third is transparency. We must be transparent with the good and bad — transparent about our ingredients, our environmental issues, our supply chain and even the mistakes we make. 

And the fourth is operating with a high degree of integrity, which is an important and enduring value at SC Johnson. This means acting ethically, doing the right thing, and being honest with our consumers and stakeholders. That is why we are committed to transparency and sharing the details about our ingredients and the science we apply when selecting them.

These values have all been part of our company’s DNA for a long time, and they continue to guide us in all that we do today.
Kelly Semrau recording podcast about building trust with consumers through transparency and social responsibility
Kelly Semrau, Chief Sustainability Officer at SC Johnson, being interviewed for a podcast about rainforest protection.
One of them — maybe the biggest one — is the public’s inherent distrust of chemicals. Some of this certainly arises from mistakes made by companies using chemicals in inappropriate ways. 

Confusing information is a problem, too. For example, despite all the assertions that something found in nature is safer, that’s not necessarily true. Nature is full of compounds that can be toxic. 

And there’s also the notion that if a chemical compound is unrecognizable or unpronounceable, it should be avoided. But chemicals like that can be found in lemons and rose oil and many other things in nature.
It starts with being open about the ingredients that we choose, how we use them and the science behind our choices. It also means taking part in an honest discussion and tackling myths and misinformation, such as those surrounding naturals versus synthetic ingredients.

Our Greenlist™ program helps us continuously seek out better ingredients, too. And, we continue to push the boundaries of our disclosure program to deliver transparency and help consumers. 

In 2017, for example, we disclosed 368 skin allergens that may occur in our products. We didn’t have to do that; we wanted to. Plus, we disclose skin allergens down to 0.01 percent, even though most experts agree that such a low level is unlikely to cause a reaction in rinse-off products.

Instead of just doing what we have to do, we do what we believe we should and that creates transparency for consumers and builds trust with them.
2017 SUSTAINABILITY REPORT
For more than 25 years, we’ve led our industry in transparency by publicly reporting SC Johnson’s environmental efforts and impact. Now, see our latest results.
Read report

Fisk JohnsonInformed Choices: A Letter from SC Johnson’s Chairman and CEO about Our 2017 Sustainability Report

GreenlistExplaining the SC Johnson Greenlist™ Program: An Excerpt from Our 2017 Sustainability Report

IngredientsEverything is Chemistry: Why SC Johnson is Tackling Negative Perceptions about Synthetic Chemicals

TransparencySC Johnson’s Progress Championing Transparency in 2016/17: An Excerpt from Our 2017 Sustainability Report

Sustainability ReportSC Johnson Sets a New Standard in Transparency

Sustainability ReportGoing Beyond: SC Johnson Releases Its 2016 Sustainability Report

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