Letter from Marc. B. Lautenbach
In April of last year our company entered our second century during a global pandemic. There was a certain symmetry to how we entered our second century, since Pitney Bowes began a hundred years ago as the last major pandemic was ending. On top of the global pandemic, 2020 was a year of tremendous social disruption. With all these disruptions came opportunities. Opportunities from a business perspective and importantly opportunities to demonstrate our commitments to our values of doing the right thing the right way and ultimately opportunities to demonstrate our character.
I have always believed that successful companies that create long term value effectively answer four questions: First, why do employees work for you; second, why do customers buy from you; third, why do communities allow you license to operate within their locales; and finally, why do investors give you the capital to run your business.
Some people call this stakeholder management and maybe it is. I call it running a business. Limit focus on one of these priorities to favor another and any advantage you create will be ephemeral.
It has always been important to focus on the health and well-being of your employees. In 2020, it was literally life or death. As Pitney Bowes was deemed an essential business many, actually most, of our workers showed up at our distribution and sortation centers as they did before, but with new protocols. Masks, social distancing, temperature checks and a variety of other changes were made to ensure our team was safe. For more information on how we dealt with the pandemic’s strategic and human challenges, see “Our COVID-19 Response” in this report. As has been the case for a hundred years, our team came through with flying colors demonstrating their resilience and dedication which has sustained Pitney Bowes.
2020 was also a year which called into question a company’s cultural commitment to equality for all. At Pitney Bowes this is nothing new. Doing the right thing the right way is grounded in creating a workplace that works for all. Consequently, diversity and inclusion are not new topics to us. They are topics that we have been living for 100 years. And our commitment to diversity and inclusion continues to be recognized. In 2020, Pitney Bowes was recognized by Forbes Magazine for the second consecutive year as a great company for diverse employees to work and we were also recognized for our commitment to Women and the LGBTQ+ community. All that said, we need to, and we will continue to up our game, particularly in the area of inclusion.
Pitney Bowes was deemed an essential company because of the unique role we play in commerce, specifically the movement of mail and parcels. With the huge influx of volume of parcels, 2020 was a challenging year, but we did our level best to help as many clients as we could. Also, because of hardship from the pandemic, we worked with our clients as best we could to help with momentary economic difficulties. Again, Pitney Bowes can’t alleviate all hardship caused by the pandemic, but we did what we could.
Our commitment to responsible citizenship is making a difference in communities where we operate around the world. This past year we helped meet urgent needs through direct charitable contributions, partnerships with local and national nonprofit organizations, grants from the Pitney Bowes Foundation, volunteerism, and advocacy on key issues made more acute by public-health challenges. We also continued our longstanding work to combat social inequities by closing education gaps, supporting initiatives around early childhood education, literacy, STEM, summer learning and workforce preparedness programs with a particular focus on the needs of students in underserved communities.
Here in Connecticut, I was pleased to help launch a business collaborative for education equity in conjunction with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and other corporate neighbors joining forces to fund needed programs in school districts throughout the area.
In 2020, we also continued our aggressive search for better ways to minimize our environmental footprint and model best practices for others. After achieving our five-year target for carbon emission reduction, a year early, we immediately set a more aggressive goal for the next five. Our 2020 recognition by “The Climate Leadership Awards” for excellence in greenhouse gas management served as a further impetus to do even more and we are. We have committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 through continued investment in more efficient facilities and green technologies to support our operations.
And not coincidentally, 2020 was a good year for our shareholders. It’s taken a while to be able to say that, but very few things of sustained value are done quickly. It takes time to build or rebuild a great company. There simply are no short cuts.
None of these things happen without great governance and Pitney Bowes has great governance. Our deep commitment to corporate responsibility is supported by a robust tradition of governance policies that address the needs of all our stakeholders. Like other responsible companies, we have made our focus on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues increasingly explicit throughout our organization. As part of that process, we have increased the involvement of our Board of Directors and senior executives in a broad spectrum of ESG matters and created senior level committees charged with a specific focus on climate change and environmental sustainability.
For far too many, 2020 was a difficult year. For Pitney Bowes, it was a year that tested our character and commitment to doing the right thing. I’m proud of how we responded. Through our success, we’ve shown the world how the best companies rise above adversity, inspire the team and earn the trust of those around them. I’m grateful to everyone who has been part of this journey, and excited about what we can do together in the years to come.
Marc B. Lautenbach
President and Chief Executive Officer