UP Issues 2021 ESG Report

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Union Pacific (UP) on April 13 released the 2021 Building America Report, an update on its Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) initiatives.

The report covers progress on the five pillars of UP’s ESG strategy (“Building a Sustainable Future 2030”): Building Responsible Foundations, Investing in Our Workforce, Driving Sustainable Solutions, Championing Environmental Stewardship, and Strengthening Our Communities.

Building Responsible Foundations is new, UP said, and includes health, safety and well-being—ESG issues that surveyed UP internal and external stakeholders deemed most important—as well as business ethics and conduct, cybersecurity, and risk management.

Following are highlights of the 2021 report:

• In 2021, UP set a goal of increasing its female workforce to 11% by 2030; at the end of 2021, it reached 5.3%.

•  UP purchased about $522 million in goods and services from more than 285 diverse suppliers in 37 states. Spending with diverse suppliers grew 23% from 2020 to 2021, and has more than doubled since 2017, from $239 million, according to the railroad.

• Through its Community Ties Giving Program, UP invested a total of $22.5 million in 2,700 nonprofit organizations, providing grants focused on safety, workforce development and community spaces. (UP noted that it “requires all giving partners to have a focus on DE&I [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] initiatives that serve underrepresented individuals.”)

• UP rolled out “The How Matters” training to its workforce, with a 98% completion rate. “The How Matters,” a policy on ethics and business conduct, explains the railroad’s “expectation of ethical conduct, prohibiting offensive remarks and sexual harassment, among other violations.”

• The railroad replaced 3.83 million ties (down 12.76% from 2020) and 502 track miles of rail (up 7.26% from 2020), and surfaced 10,441 miles of track (up 0.15% from 2020).

• UP’s 2021 reportable personal injury incidents rate per 200,000 employee-hours of 0.98 increased 9% from 2020, and reportable equipment incident rate of 3.80 per million train miles increased 7%. The railroad noted that it is “reassessing the efficacy of our safety programs so we can provide our managers with the tools they need to lead effective safety discussions. We are revisiting our safety programs to ensure they are designed to support both training and compliance requirements. Finally, we are creating better dashboards to help us focus our efforts appropriately.”

• The UP-developed DigiCrew app—which allows train crews to report their work using a digital, real-time process—will be rolled out on 12,000 hand-held mobile devices in 2022.

Download the UP 2021 Building America Report here:

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