Democratizing Sustainability: Q&A With Target VP Jennifer Silberman


Jennifer Silberman is Vice President, Corporate Responsibility for Target. She leads the company’s commitment to create positive economic, social and environmental impact in the local and global communities it serves. As such, she has direct responsibility for the company’s corporate responsibility strategy and priorities—and the remit to show customers, employees and stakeholders how Target’s actions and practices express its values and mission.

Joining the retailer from Hilton, where she was the hotel group’s first Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, she has been instrumental in embedding CR throughout Target’s global business, overseeing a range of priorities from sustainable water management to how it’s celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride this month.

Starting with the philosophy of putting customers at the center of all Target’s CR goals and actions, Silberman is transparent about the company’s evolution, sharing that: “We are building on our strong foundation of investing in our communities and sustainable business operations to identify new ways to unlock business and societal value.” And as she states in our Q&A below, she’s excited to do so in ways that are authentic to the Target brand—”in the same way we democratized style, we know Target can democratize sustainability.”

She attended Sustainable Brands 2018 in Vancouver to update her peers on the development and implementation of Target’s new CR framework, including how sustainability can be operationalized to make products better, more innovative and more inclusive. As Silberman commented at the event, “It’s always invigorating to gather with leaders from across the globe to share experiences and explore ways to leverage each of our unique strengths to help solve the global issues we all face.”

She shared more insights in a Q&A, below:

Jennifer, what do you want people to know about Target’s sustainability commitment?

At Target, we’re embedding Corporate Responsibility into the DNA of the business and the brand to drive meaningful, lasting value. But the challenges we face are bigger than any one company, and redesigning the good life is a team sport that requires all of us. By sharing and learning from our collective experiences, working together and leveraging our different strengths, we can move markets, inspire different business models and design a better tomorrow.

How does this commitment show up in the customer experience, whether in-store or other channels?

We’re focused on putting the needs of people, communities and the planet at the heart of how we work today, to help build a better tomorrow. Whether through our sustainable packaging goals or chemical strategy, or infusing purpose into our owned brands, like the Cat & Jack kids’ line, our guests are always at the center of everything we do, and how we engage with them in our commitment to sustainability is no different.

What role do partners play in helping amplify your sustainability efforts?

We aim to leverage Target’s size, scale and reach to positively impact the communities in which we serve and operate. Going beyond what we can achieve in our own operations and with our vendors, we collaborate with NGOs, governments, industry organizations and other businesses to innovate and design solutions to the most pressing issues we face today. They also help us influence how we support our team members and guests.

What are some of the innovative sustainability practices that Target is doing behind the scenes that customers may not be aware of?

We’re designing new ways to make our business and supply chain more sustainable from beginning to end, all focused on keeping communities healthy and vibrant for our team members and guests. We’re continuing to achieve business milestones by designing and operating efficient buildings and spaces, using resources responsibly, eliminating waste and minimizing our greenhouse gas footprint.

In fact, we’ve made a commitment to 100% renewable energy in our domestic operations. Today, we’re the top corporate solar installer in the U.S. and, by 2020, we’ll have rooftop panels on 500 of our buildings, helping us reduce our energy costs and offset our energy needs. And we’re also accelerating efforts to install new electric vehicle charging stations across 20 states over the next two years.

Are Target shoppers clamoring for sustainable products (not to mention eco-friendly packaging, bags, etc.?) and how are you meeting that demand?

We believe our guests shouldn’t have to make tradeoffs or compromise. And in the same way we democratized style, we know Target can democratize sustainability. We know that even a few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference for the planet, so we offer products, resources and incentives that make it easier for guests to incorporate more choices into their lives. By offering better-for-you, clean and transparent products that are affordable and accessible, quick-and-easy places to trade-in and recycle materials, reusable shopping bags and more, we’re working together to make an even bigger impact.


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