International Paper's Approach to Diversity & Inclusion

Mar 21, 2023 2:05 PM ET
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Originally published in International Paper's 2021 Sustainability Report

Diversity and inclusion are critical components of our sustainability strategy. We believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce strengthens our organization and creates long-term value. Diversity, in our view, is a driver for collaboration, with its emphasis on teamwork, innovative thinking and equal participation, and therefore critical to our success.

Our commitment to supplier diversity enables us to tap new perspectives, unique talents and innovative solutions to meet the growing and varied needs of our global customer base.

Putting our Strategy to Work

Our Global Diversity & Inclusion Council leads our global efforts to build and sustain a workplace that embraces individuality and collaboration to drive exceptional results. We expanded membership in the Council in 2021 to better represent the multiple dimensions of diversity we embrace. Our diversity and inclusion framework — Workforce, Workplace, Marketplace — embraces diversity within our company’s culture, our employees’ careers and the communities where our team members live and work.

Using our Strategy to Meet our Diversity and Inclusion Targets

Our Vision 2030 Thriving People & Communities goal includes three targets, or metrics, that measure success. One of these targets is to reach 30 percent overall representation of women companywide, including 50 percent representation of women in salaried positions and 30 percent minority representation in U.S. salaried positions. We launched our Diversity Talent Acquisition Framework to establish baseline metrics and reporting measures to assist in achieving our Vision 2030 goals.

We initiated efforts to improve our overall representation of women in every region where we operate. We also established regional diversity plans to recruit, hire, develop and retain the best talent. For example, in the U.S., we are aiming for better minority representation, In the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, there is a focus on people with disabilities and generational diversity because we realize that diversity means something different in every geography where we operate.

Our Targets

Our Vision 2030 targets are what we call “lagging indicators,” which are measurable results after deliberate actions have been taken. These targets are backed by a series of enterprise-wide “leading indicators,” which inform our actions. These include:

  • Develop People Capability
    Fostering Learning & Development: In previous years, we rolled out Courageous Conversations training in Global Cellulose Fibers (GCF). Courageous Conversations help employees communicate their experiences and hear from others on complex issues of race and privilege in the workplace. In 2021, we implemented this training in our Industrial Packaging Group (IPG), including 15 mills and 175 box plants. In 2021, we implemented phase 1 of the Cultivating Inclusion program among our global salaried workforce; phase 2 expands to our global hourly team members in 2022.
  • Ensure Diverse Talent Pools
    We continued to focus on hiring diverse talent through college and military veteran recruiting and to implement team member training and development programs to prepare the right candidates for key positions. For example, we have increased representation of women engineers in our REACH (Recruit, Engage, Align College Hires) program by 39% with the Class of 2022, compared to the Class of 2021.
  • Increase Engagement
    We advanced our efforts to create a trusting and open environment where team members can express their ideas without fear of negative consequences. We initiated team-driven workplace flexibility plans that meet the needs of our team members and our company. We also continue to take active steps to improve the employee experience by utilizing team member feedback provided during pulse surveys.
  • Improve Retention
    We expanded our Employee Networking Circles (ENCs) to 15, including:
    • Global enterprise level: IPride — LGBTQ+ & Allies, IPVets — Veterans, IPMOVE — African American, and Women in IP — Women
    • Departmental and business level: GS NOW — Global Sourcing Networking Organization for Women, IT Inclusion Council, GCF D&I Council, and Global Sourcing D&I Council
    • Local level: LatAm Women in IP, NAC Northern Illinois Women’s ENC, Riverdale Women’s ENC, Orange Mill Diversity, Georgetown Women’s ENC Savannah Mill’s Supporting Women in the Mill (SWIM), and IP Wise in Federal Way.

We believe ENCs impact inclusion and engagement, which directly influences retention. For example, the Savannah Mill’s SWIM ENC is a part of their overall diversity and inclusion strategy because the mill workforce is made up of 9.7% women, an increase of 2.6% from 2017. The ENC was created to increase engagement and retention throughout the mill.

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About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global supplier of renewable fiber-based products. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal care products that promote health and wellness. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 38,000 colleagues globally. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2021 were $19.4 billion. Additional information can be found by visiting