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Corporate Social Responsibility at GAF: 2020 Year in Review

By Satta Sarmah Hightower

December 17, 2020

Corporate social responsibility

2020 has been a year of monumental change, pushing many companies to consider how they can be better, how they can do things differently, and—most importantly—how they can help.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts allow GAF to bring about meaningful change in the communities it serves and within its own company. Here's a look back at some of the ways GAF has made a positive impact on more than 6,000 families this year.

Social Responsibility at GAF

GAF concentrates its efforts on communities where it already has a presence—allowing for a more immediate impact. Jeff Terry, vice president of corporate social responsibility & sustainability at GAF, says that two-thirds of the communities GAF serves are considered distressed or at risk of becoming so.

"We try to improve the health of the community; healthy in the way of economic, physical and mental health—it's all a part of the role that we play as a corporate and civic leader in our communities," he says. "That's the vision for where our role as a corporate citizen evolves to improve society."

While this commitment to social responsibility is anchored in local communities, GAF also aims to have a broad, long-term impact.

"Imagine a world where we can look at every one of our communities and recognize that none of them are distressed or at risk. Imagine a day when every part of waste that comes from our operations never touches a landfill and where we are a carbon-neutral company. That's the impact we can have on society," Terry says.

Year of Impact: GAF Community Matters

This year, GAF launched GAF Community Matters, a national social impact initiative to help communities in need. GAF has committed $6 million in financial and in-kind donations for this effort. Throughout 2020, the company's positive impact has shown through a range of community initiatives, including GAF Cares, the GAF-Habitat for Humanity Community Contractor program, the Protector's Fund, and its Roofs for Heroes program.

Protecting Our Own

This year, the GAF Cares Employee Relief Fund began providing support for employees affected by the pandemic while also continuing to help employees facing financial hardship after natural disasters. The fund provided support to 564 employees—542 directly affected by the pandemic and 22 touched by natural or personal disasters.

"We, as a company, stood up through our GAF Cares effort and were there to support those who needed a hand up," Terry says. "It was our way of saying, 'We're here for you, and even though things are hard right now, we're going to have your back and help take care of you.'"

Helping Neighbors in Need

While GAF has tapped into its own internal resources and talents to drive community engagement initiatives, collaborating with partners has expanded its reach to even more communities in need, especially after major disasters.

To help families that need quality, affordable housing, GAF has partnered with local contractors and Habitat for Humanity, the country's leading housing nonprofit with 1,500 local affiliates. The partnership dates back to 2011, but it took new meaning this year as families grappled with economic and housing insecurity in greater numbers. For nearly a decade, GAF has donated building materials and provided over 2,000 roofs for Habitat families, with a goal to double this number by 2023.

"Our work has evolved in helping neighbors in need by scaling up the partnership we have with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, to be much more intentional and engage contractors in more thoughtful and impactful ways," Terry says.

Despite all the difficulties contractors faced as much of their work came to a halt, they still gave back to their communities—100 new GAF-factory certified contractors* signed up for the GAF-Habitat for Humanity Community Contractor program in 2020. In partnership with GAF certified contractors, 234 roofs were donated to Habitat for Humanity projects throughout the U.S. as of the end of November. GAF has also donated material in support of local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. In total, GAF has supported over a dozen projects locally this year.

Protecting the Protectors

GAF efforts also extend to giving back to frontline workers. The GAF Protector's Fund has supported organizations that provide meals and other support services to healthcare workers. GAF also launched the Roofs for Heroes initiative in June to provide free roof repairs, rehab, or complete replacements for healthcare workers battling the pandemic.

To date, GAF has supported five projects to help four families and one volunteer first responder and ambulatory center with residential or commercial roofing. Frontline healthcare workers and first responders have sacrificed so much to save lives, and this effort allows GAF to support those who have given so much of themselves during this challenging time.

Lending Support after Unprecedented Natural Disasters

2020 saw several natural disasters that caused thousands of people to lose their homes or be displaced, and GAF has provided support for long-term disaster recovery efforts.

This year, GAF partnered with the charitable organization Good360 in response to Hurricanes Florence, Michael, Laura, and Delta; the tornadoes in Nashville, Dayton, and Arkansas; the West Coast fires; and the Midwest derecho. Through this partnership, GAF donated materials that supported more than 500 disaster recovery projects, including shingles to help rebuild homes and ensure residents in these communities have a safe place to live.

GAF also has partnered with Team Rubicon, an organization that mobilizes veterans and civilians to help with disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. GAF worked with Team Rubicon to recruit employee volunteers and has supported the organization as it launched 366 operations this year: 326 aimed at COVID-19 disaster response and 40 with a focus on core operations.

As of October, Team Rubicon has assisted over 2,300 people on 40 core disaster response operations, including operations to deal with the aftermath of several hurricanes and the Midwest derecho. This partnership has assisted with more than 326 COVID-19 support operations, supported food banks serving nearly 3 million meals to those in need, and deployed 213 volunteers to multiple testing sites to aid in the testing of more than 84,000 people.

Driving Green Leadership in the Market

GAF has taken time in 2020 to expand its market leadership in sustainability, green building, and product transparency.

This year, GAF announced two environmental product declarations for its Timberline® HDZ™ and Timberline CS Shingles products in an effort to strengthen its commitment to producing sustainable products. The GAF manufacturing facility in Baltimore has expanded its waste diversion program to reduce its environmental impact, recycling shingles that would have otherwise been discarded and increasing its diversion rate to 94%. The facility is focused on generating less waste and reusing and recycling materials.

GAF is also sharing Baltimore's best practices and learnings with other sites—this collaboration improves sustainability and waste reduction across the company as a whole.

Giving Back and Making a Social Impact at GAF

GAF has stepped in to help during a time of massive disruption, whether it's making in-kind contributions, donating building materials to help those affected by the pandemic and natural disasters, or providing support for frontline healthcare workers. GAF has strengthened its commitment to sustainability and strives to stay at the forefront of green leadership in the market. Though 2020 has been an unprecedented year, GAF has laid a strong foundation for future corporate social responsibility efforts.

"Impact is about who you help," Terry says. "We continue to mature, and a sign of the maturity of our work is being able to recognize that there are people in exceptional times who need exceptional help. We have done that as a company. That's something GAF can be very proud of."


*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

About the Author

Satta Sarmah Hightower is a freelance writer who covers business, healthcare and technology topics for a wide range of brands and publications. A former journalist, Satta holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Boston University and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School.

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