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The Boeing Company: Assessing the Maturity of Environmental Systems

October 22, 2012

The Challenge

As the world's largest aerospace company, whose commercial jetliners and defense, space, and security systems are used in 150 countries, Boeing operates a diverse network of manufacturing facilities that produce and maintain aircraft and aviation systems. In today’s operating environment, the company faces growing pressure from customers and reporting standards to quickly aggregate common data from across its manufacturing sites and report on its overall environmental performance.

Additionally, Boeing’s five-year environmental targets focus on key impacts, including carbon-dioxide emissions, energy use, water use, and waste. The company was on track to meet or exceed its 1 percent absolute reduction goals, which were set to expire in 2012, and Boeing needed to develop a comprehensive set of new targets. Additionally, given the steady increase in requests for corporate sustainability information from surveys, analysts, and customers, the company wanted to ensure that new targets could satisfy future data needs.

Boeing enlisted BSR to help develop its next set of performance targets and assess the viability and usefulness of the company’s current data, and the systems underlying environmental management at the various manufacturing sites.

Our Strategy

Our goal was to understand the state of Boeing’s environmental data across key manufacturing sites, and whether these data were “mature,” or robust, useful, and forward-looking enough to satisfy emerging sustainability data requirements. BSR and Boeing also created a “maturity model” to assess governance of environmental data across manufacturing sites.

We gathered this information by reviewing management systems documentation and holding a series of meetings with facility and corporate environmental leaders at multiple sites. We also interviewed select manufacturing peers within the BSR member network to understand their approaches to environmental data governance. Based on this, we facilitated a discussion with senior management about the development of new targets, highlighting where Boeing could set ambitious targets verses where continuous improvement to systems and processes could be made to address future needs.

Our Impact

Our work produced a more detailed understanding of how environmental data varied across Boeing sites, the maturity of environmental governance, and the company’s readiness for increasing the scope of its existing environmental metrics. Boeing developed a set of post-2012 environmental targets based on this new understanding.

Lessons Learned

  • By assessing the maturity of the data, we were able to highlight both the gaps and the opportunities for future reporting needs.
  • Traditional environmental, health, and safety data; systems; and processes need to shift to an overall sustainability framework—one that is future-looking and takes into account stakeholder needs.
  • Boeing has relatively standardized data and processes to collect that information, and this is supported by strong management systems. Nonetheless, variation in data still exists. Potential benefits of data maturity include:
    • Reputation/brand enhancement and risk reduction: Better, more proactive responses to public reporting and customer environmental data requests can reduce risk.
    • Streamlined operations: Standardized, centralized, and automated data systems improve access, reduce duplication, and simplify monitoring.
    • Opportunity identification: Tracking and highlighting opportunities can further reduce impacts such as waste.
    • Improved best-practice sharing: Improving internal communications makes it easier for sites to track and compare each other’s performance.

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