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On our approach

At UL, sustainability is central to who we are and what we have to offer. We enthusiastically embrace our mission to work for a safer, more secure and sustainable world, improving people’s lives by improving quality and safety in every industry we serve. Increasingly, our work reveals how safety, security and sustainability are interconnected: each a vital aspect of promoting peace and prosperity today; each a necessary consideration for the future well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.   

We believe our global reach and safety science expertise uniquely position us to have a profound and positive impact on the world. We also know that there is always more to discover, more to share and more to do. As a result, in 2019, we’ve strengthened our strategic approach to sustainability and laid the foundation for how we will accelerate and report on our progress in years to come. We are excited to collaborate and innovate in new ways, and to challenge ourselves, our customers and stakeholders to secure a resilient, inclusive and abundant future for all. 

Our strategy

Our corporate sustainability purpose is clear. We want to positively impact our planet, its people and prosperity through environmental and social sustainability initiatives, as well as our services and offerings. We hope to inspire every person we can to help build a global culture of sustainability. We will apply our human, financial and brand capital to our utmost capability to further integrate sustainable practices into the heart of our business and to help address the critical challenges of our world with active and committed expertise.  

Our year began with a resolution to contribute toward and align our strategy with the United Nations’ SDGs, 17 goals defined by the UN to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. As a global company impacting the world through our operations, we share in the responsibility and urgency to help promote the prosperity of all people, everywhere. By aligning to the SDGs, we amplify our ability to contribute to the collaborative effort to help solve the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. 

SDG alignment

In order to identify sustainability topics material to our employees, businesses and stakeholders, we conducted an internal materiality assessment. Once these issues were determined and prioritized, we examined the 17 SDGs to align with the goals that best reflected our mission, values, business and corporate sustainability objectives. This internal analysis (below) resulted in our prioritization of the following SDGs to guide our course ahead: 


We must all be involved in the work it will take to build a safer, more secure and sustainable planet. We apply our human capital through volunteerism, thought leadership, skill-sharing and partnerships to make a personal and positive impact on our local communities.

Our responsibility to people means taking care of our employees alongside the public we serve. By prioritizing employee education, volunteerism, diversity and inclusion, we help create a healthy working culture that recognizes giving back and personal growth as important components of well-being. UL's social sustainability efforts connect local and global issues directly to our mission of working for a safer world, offering opportunities for us to apply our human capital to addressing the issues that best utilize our competencies. Employee participation in volunteer service enhances our mission and deepens our connection to the communities where we work and live and to each other.

Through our nonprofit partnerships, we collaborate to address the SDGs and provide disaster relief and charitable donations. Through our research, thought leadership and educational opportunities, we bring sustainable strategies, innovations and practices to our customers, employees and stakeholders. We expect our suppliers to practice responsible sourcing, foster safe work environments, exhibit transparency and ensure the secure distribution of goods, and we have created a global sourcing task force to monitor this commitment and continually evaluate improvements.

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We are committed to minimizing the adverse impacts our global offices and operations have on the environment. We are focused on responsibly managing our utility usage; reducing, repurposing and diverting our waste; and, engaging our global employees in implementing local solutions to address environmental issues in their communities.  

Consequently, we support employee subject matter experts on task forces aimed at improving our energy efficiency, conserving water and finding new ways to responsibly address the waste we produce. Through our environmental sustainability efforts and these internal task forces, we will better understand how to reduce our negative impact and foster sustainable progress. 

We are committed to setting robust science-based targets to reduce our carbon footprint, preserve natural resources and lessen our environmental impact. We are dedicated to improving environmental sustainability throughout our operations by discovering and deploying sustainable efficiencies and innovations. To demonstrate transparency and evaluate our progress, we will continuously measure and report on our challenges and achievements.  

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We are confident that our offerings help make the world safer, more secure and sustainable, and we seek to uncover even more ways to advance trust in our world. Our impact grows with every company that employs our services, in every geography where we are located and with every person that uses UL Certified products. Because of this, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to promote sustainable practices every day with every task we undertake. As we continue to evolve and learn, we empower ourselves alongside our customers and stakeholders to prioritize a prosperous future for us all.  

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Prioritizing sustainability requires the leadership and support of our stakeholders and every UL employee in every role. In this transformative year, we established a dedicated CorporateSustainability team, founded a cross-functional sustainability council and engaged multiple employee task forces to address our energy usage, supply chain, waste production and carbon footprint. We look forward to achieving our goals and the discoveries we will make along the way. 

Corporate Sustainability Council — Our sustainability actions, commitments and impacts are governed through this highly engaged and experienced group of employees representing all business units, functions and geographies. The council analyzes social, environmental and strategic opportunities to support our sustainability vision and enhance our operations. Employee task forces focusing on sustainability issues report directly to the council. 

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) — Although, we are a private company, we recognize and value the importance of sustainability reporting to improve how we address future risks and opportunities. As our reporting matures, we will continue expanding our coverage utilizing the GRI Standards. 


United Nations Global

United Nations Global Compact — In 2019, UL became a Signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, formally committing to collaborate and report on our responsibility, progress and contributions to the principles of sustainability and the global impact of our actions. 

TruCost Data assessment — We work with TruCost to obtain external review and validation of our data and SDG alignment. 

Our 2019 sustainability report has been externally reviewed by sustainability reporting experts and advisors at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Ethical Corporation. 




Sustainability demands collaboration. We may all have individual and corporate missions to fulfill, however, we share in common one mission higher than all of us, to steward this planet and its people to health and well-being in a way that does not endanger future generations. We are excited to have initiated key partnerships in 2019 to enrich our expertise and help progress SDG No. 17 — Partnerships for the Goals

United Nations Global Compact - Becoming a Signatory to the Compact inspires us to raise the bar every year with new challenges for ourselves, our customers, our stakeholders and the public. Further, we join a movement of leaders that support social and environmental sustainability and the actions and governance required to make a real impact.

Impact 2030 - Our partnership with Impact 2030 helps us scale the impact of our human capital investments to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.


UN SDG Action Campaign  - By participating in the Global Week to Act for SDGs, we expand our capacity to inform, influence and inspire a broad, global audience to step up for the SDGs. 

Vice President of Corporate Sustainability, Barbara R. Guthrie, is a member of Sustainability Council 1: Strategy and Implementation. This peer-learning group explores best practices for integrating sustainability into business. 

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship provides education and panel opportunities to support the goals of sustainability professionals and their organizations. Tina Vaughn, social sustainability manager, participates in the Community Involvement Leadership Roundtable. 

GRI S&P Global BCCC Ethical Impact 2030
The Conference Board
UN SDG Action

Materiality assessment

In 2018, we conducted a materiality assessment to identify the sustainability issues where we could sharpen our focus to achieve the greatest impact. This internal assessment by UL’s global leaders covered the sustainability topics addressed by the SDGs and other issues pertinent to our operations. The potential environmental, social and economic impact of each issue was determined based on published studies on global risks. Issues were prioritized according to:

  • Stakeholder importance (via survey results and interviews)
  • Organizational importance (alignment to company mission, strategy and core competencies)