PEOPLE POWER - ANDREA O’DONNELL
8 October 2020
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Andrea O'Donnell, President, UGG® of Deckers Brands since 2016, shares her thoughts on the company’s commitment to people and the planet.
Are there misconceptions about the ability of the fashion industry to be sustainable?
One big misconception is that the fashion industry doesn’t have the influence or ability to instigate real global change. Also, there is sometimes a perception that big brands are bad. Bigger brands are in fact in an incredibly important position, because they have access to resources to invest in innovation so that more sustainable solutions can come within the reach of smaller companies.
What are the most important things brands need to do to make operations sustainable?
Brands need to look after people within the supply chains and their communities. They must also minimize the negative impact on the environment so that we can collectively safeguard the future of our planet for the next generation. At UGG, we are always looking at how to make products that last for as long as possible. And we constantly strive to have an environmentally and socially conscious supply chain. Our FEEL GOOD launch marks the next steps in our efforts to help make the extent of human-driven impact on the planet, mainstream news. It is only by working together and modelling a positive collective future where we put the planet first that we will achieve the transformational shift we need.
What steps is UGG taking to ensure a sustainable future?
We are working on ever-more exciting design and material innovations that aim to reduce waste and minimize our environmental impact. We are collaborating with expert partners to implement initiatives that strive to protect ecosystems in which we work through regenerative farming. In particular, we are partnering with the Savory Institute who through their Land to Market program, work with farmers to protect and restore the land in which we live, having a positive impact on both people and the planet. We are also working with expert partners on science-based targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals – limiting global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and aiming to limit warming to 1.5°C.
How have the UN Sustainable Development Goals helped?
We joined the United Nations Global Compact in 2016. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have provided us with a blueprint for achieving a more sustainable future and it is incredible to see how many brands and industries have committed to take action – there are now over 9,500 companies participating. Collaboration across disciplines and collective action is vital– brands and sectors are no longer working in silos as they see the benefit in shared resources and knowledge. Joining shows our commitment to conducting business with the utmost respect for universal principles around human rights, labour standards, responsible environmental practices, and anti-corruption. The serious challenge we now face is the speed at which we can implement sustainable change and counterbalance our environmental impact.
In your wide-ranging roles as Brand President, what is your biggest responsibility?
As Brand President my role is to ensure that we stay true to our UGG values, whilst continually evolving to reflect the needs of our global community. We believe that fashion can be real, democratic, and aspirational all at the same time. We also want to create products that are innovative, made to last and have a positive impact so that people can feel good wearing UGG.