Union Pacific is one of America’s strongest leaders in transportation services and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. This company is a publicly-traded railroad holding company that was first established in 1969 and is ranked number 141, up from 143 in 2017, on the 2018 Fortune 1000 list. Union Pacific capitalized on 21.24 billion dollars worth of revenue this year and has over 41 thousand employees. Not only is this company massively impressive through its financial metrics, but the driver behind this consistently high quality of performance is the company’s values and passion for sustainability, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion.
There is a tremendous effort and emphasis on sustainability within Union Pacific, in the company’s Building America Report, which includes its sustainability report, reads, “A healthy environment is an essential foundation for a strong country – and a vibrant economy. Our vision of Building America involves protecting and strengthening this foundation.” The company works towards sustainability with great enthusiasm and I certainly support Union Pacific in recognizing that business and sustainability go hand-in-hand.
Resources are not abundant and we need to use them wisely to keep our economy growing. Union Pacific has and continues to take strategic steps to improve its impact on the environment. For example, they work preventatively to reduce their impact on environmental damage by reducing carbon emissions and using renewable fuels. This is important because Union Pacific delivers products to almost every geographic region of our country, which can amount to a large number of carbon emissions. However, Union Pacific recognizes this and is working towards reducing their pollution by using more renewable fuel.
Because trains are four times more efficient than trucks in terms of fuel, Union Pacific focuses on moving its products by rail, which reduces greenhouse emissions by 75 percent. “If 5 percent of freight switched from truck to rail, 800 million gallons of fuel could be saved,” Union Pacific Building America Report. The company is also making efforts to utilize more renewable fuel, it has reported a 5% increase in renewable fuel usage since 2017. Union Pacific is also working towards environmental recovery and has the goal of restoring the environmental contamination for which Union Pacific is responsible through volunteer efforts and increasing sustainable practices. I think that this is important because many companies do not take ownership of the negative externalities they incur. They allow 3rd parties to bear the burden they are causing, but Union Pacific has a different outlook. They want to take ownership and correct this problem. The transportation industry incurs a lot of pollution by nature but Union Pacific earned an A- rating on the CDP’s Climate Change Survey in 2017 because they make an active effort to preserve our environment. The company is proud of that achievement and proud that it has submitted climate change data to CDP for 10 consecutive years. I think Union Pacific is far from being perfectly sustainable and environmentally friendly, but they are well on their way in the right direction.
Union Pacific participates in and organizes many charitable giving programs, helping thousands of nonprofit organizations achieve success in their missions. The company supports communities through the Community Ties Giving Program and community service efforts. Something that I found to be incredible in Union Pacific’s Building America Report was, “We supported more than 3,700 nonprofit organizations, donated $18.4 million to community efforts, and were members of more than 165 local civic organizations, such as chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.” This company can make a significant impact on America’s many communities and I am happy that they feel compelled and excited to do as much as they can! The quote encompasses a lot of information, Union Pacific participates in several community volunteer programs and events, two of which are Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations. Union Pacific also has a major initiative on suicide prevention, the company trains all employees on peer support and suicide awareness. With over 41 thousand employees, this has a huge impact on the country at large. Not only are employees better educated on depression and suicide, but they are also much more educated in helping others with suicidal thoughts find the help they need. If each employee helps educate or support one person each, that is 82 thousand people positively affected by this initiative. I think that is amazing. Another wonderful program that is a major initiative of the company is Union Pacific’s GivePLUS program, which matches employee donations to nonprofit organizations. This incentivizes employees to give and demonstrates that the company supports them. If every company in America did this, we live in a much happier and more prosperous world. Union Pacific has not been recognized by any awards, citations, or certifications that I would find, however, I think they deserve several.
Union Pacific commits to diversity and inclusion so that all employees have the opportunity to reach their potential both professionally and personally. “From an employee’s perspective, a diverse culture increases engagement improves morale and supports safety. From a business perspective, diversity improves the company’s decision making, problem-solving, and strategic thinking, which translates into a competitive advantage with bottom-line results,” the Union Pacific company website reads. Union Pacific recognizes the win-win situation that promoting diversity incurs. If employees are in an environment where they feel comfortable and collaborative, they will be more engaged and productive. Employee happiness can mean a lot for a business that not many people recognize, when people feel safe and in high spirits, morale rises and so does teamwork and productivity for the business in all aspects, serving as a major competitive advantage. Union Pacific has many internal programs that support different diversity groups within the company. The purpose of this is to support minority groups and raise inclusion awareness by having missions to recruit, retain, and advance minorities. The Black Employee Network (BEN) supports African-American Employees, it was founded in 1979 with just five members but has since grown to more than 700.
The growth in members truly demonstrates the organization’s efforts toward promoting the inclusion of African-American candidates and employees. BEN has chapters in St. Louis, North Little Rock, Kansas City, Memphis, Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Houston, Omaha, Chicago, and Addis, Louisiana, which shows the outreach this organization has. Another organization that Union Pacific founded is the Latino Employee Network (LEN). “LEN also endeavors to ensure the full integration of Latinos into the workplace through partnering with the company on recruitment, development and retention initiatives,” Union Pacific website. This organization works as a liaison between management and Latino employees to help management better understand the concerns of this minority group and address them appropriately. I think the LEN is an important organization because it broadens the perspective of management and employees in general by helping them further understand the point of view of the Latino minority group. If people at all levels engage in diversified perspective taking, they will become not only aware of the concerns Latino workers face but all minority groups. Union Pacific has many other organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, like the Council on Native American Heritage (CONAH) and LEAD: A Women’s Initiative – Lead Educate Achieve and Develop. Because of Union Pacific’s continuous commitment to diversity and inclusion, the company was the recipient of the local Urban League’s Employer of the Year award at its Equal Opportunity Day luncheon in 2009. I am glad that the company received this award and is recognized for the valiant effort they have towards creating a diverse and friendly environment. It is important that everyone feels safe and welcomed in the workplace to decrease distractions and raise morale, and Union Pacific has done an excellent job.
Less mature and less advanced companies should take the example from Union Pacific and be enthusiastic in their efforts to impact the environment more positively, make earnest contributions towards bettering communities and support diversity and inclusion. I think the company is doing a fantastic job at addressing these three key areas by continuously improving upon its practices and incentivizing employees to embrace its values of sustainability, community engagement, and diversity. I learned the importance of companies reporting data on these areas because not all do, and those that report their information have nothing to hide and are incentivized by being in the public eye to do even better. I do think that Union Pacific could improve upon its youth outreach and create programs to engage with young, potential employees so that they are aware of Union Pacific’s values and best practices. This could influence the youth to embrace the same goals of promoting the environment, communities, and diversity throughout their education and as they start to plan their careers. All in all, I think Union Pacific is a leader not only in the industry, but also in sustainability, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion.