Stanley Black & Decker:

Innovating with Purpose, Designing Products in Partnership

By Margo Mosher

Deb Geyer is Vice President of Environment, Health & Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility at Stanley Black & Decker, the US-based manufacturer of tools and provider of security. Margo Mosher spoke with Deb to better understand how the company has used purpose, partnership and innovation to develop its new corporate social responsibility strategy and drive its positive impacts to the next level.

Stanley Black & Decker recently launched a new CSR strategy. What triggered this new approach?

For us, it all begins with our company’s purpose. Last year, we went through a process to articulate what is unique about Stanley Black & Decker. We know that we are a special, high-performing company, but over our 175 years, we had not taken the time to reflect on the qualities that have helped us outperform our peers. What we found did not surprise us:

  • We collaborate internally and externally and bring people together;

  • We are reliable, we are a 175 year-old company because we provide high-quality, safe, durable products and services;

  • We are problem solvers and look for ways to provide solutions to challenges;

  • We innovate, we are never satisfied with offering the status quo, and we are always looking to make things better.

The results of the process were overwhelmingly consistent and remarkably resonant across the organization.

These four elements come together in our purpose statement: for those who make the world.

At the same time as we were doing our purpose excavation, we set forward three clear company objectives: achieve top quartile performance, be known as one of the world’s most innovative companies, and be recognized as a socially responsible company. To achieve that third part of the vision we knew we needed to clearly lay out our CSR strategy, align it with our purpose, and that’s what drove us to this work.

With the company’s purpose clear and with one of the company’s strategic aims to be a recognized socially responsibly company, you then set out to build a new CSR strategy. How did you go about this?

Our purpose work laid the foundation for our CSR strategy work. We needed our CSR strategy to be the actions behind the purpose, the way that we take our purpose out into the world and prove that it is more than words. So we very deliberately pulled apart our actions and the things we are very good at and we thought – how can we use these strengths to contribute to the greater good.

We crafted a three-pillar corporate social responsibility strategy focused on 1) empowering makers, 2) innovating with purpose and 3) creating a sustainable world. The strategy has ambitious, quantifiable goals and KPIs to track performance.

If you think of that second pillar, for example, there was one project we were working on that helped solidify this part of our strategy and mission. The clean technology agricultural pump is a project we focused on in India because we wanted to have an impact on a market with underserved needs. 90 million farmers there do not have clean water available due to lack of access to diesel fuel and electricity for pumping water.

We saw an opportunity to work with the Indian government and to innovate and develop a product that could help improve people’s lives. Using our brushless motor technology and by partnering with a solar power panel company and a submersible pump company we developed a pump that uses solar power and has battery storage. We piloted the pump with a farmer and the results were impressive.

The pump enables farmers to access water consistently, grow a broader array of crops, and ultimately improve their lives. This project was particularly special because it was driven by our innovation and presented an opportunity to have both a positive impact on the people and the world and also create a new product we could bring to market.

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We saw an opportunity to work with the Indian government and to innovate and develop a product that could help improve people’s lives.

It sounds like this project required a lot of collaboration, which is one of Stanley Black & Decker’s core values – how did this fit into the project?

As a company, we know that our reputation is everything, and that integrity and accountability are at the core of every relationship. We believe that inclusivity and collaboration breed success so trust between Stanley Black & Decker and the farmers in the community was strong. When we approached different farmers to find the location where we could pilot the initial design, we were welcomed. The farmers listened to our story, our design, and how we do business, and they trusted us. The sandbox pilot went from one that could only grow limited vegetable crops a few months out of the year to harvesting 1,000 kg of rice within eight months!

The success of the project helped us to partner with others that we normally wouldn’t work closely with, such as the solar panel company and the Indian government. It helped us develop new partnerships.

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The India Clean Technology project helped us understand the connection between creating a positive social impact and at the same time creating business value with global implications.

So how did this particular project fit in to Stanley Black & Decker’s new approach to CSR?

The India Clean Technology project helped us understand the connection between creating a positive social impact and at the same time creating business value with global implications.

In the second pillar of our CSR Strategy, ‘Innovating with Purpose’, we have an ambitious goal to deliver projects that enhance the lives of 500 million people by 2030. A project like the Clean Solar Pump can really move the needle in that respect! This goal will help us continue having positive impacts on the world. In this pillar we also have goals related to improving the environmental impacts of our products and designing our products with circular principles across the product life cycle. It’s really transformative in terms of how we’re approaching our product design and development.

What benefits is the new CSR strategy bringing?

The new strategy is impactful, and the whole company is behind it. The positive social impacts it’s creating have tremendous business value. The strategy has enabled us to channel all of our great social impact work and energy into targeted efforts through our three pillars. Our pillars have clear goals and KPIs so we can transparently report on what we’re doing. We are aligning to new customers that care about social responsibility, and we’re attracting next generation employees because of it. It adds on to why Stanley Black & Decker is a great place to work and it keeps us all motivated and driven. I get excited to come to work every day because I love having the chance to be a force for good.

Deb was talking to...

Margo Mosher


Margo Mosher is a Director in SustainAbility’s New York office, leading on consulting, thought leadership and business development. She worked closely with Stanley Black & Decker to develop their CSR strategy and she supports clients across a range of sectors on related strategic work.