Progression, protection and sustainability
A message from Jennifer Scanlon,
President and Chief Executive Officer, UL
To our employees, customers and stakeholders,
For 125 years, UL has helped to make the world a safer place. We started when electricity was the cutting-edge technology of the day and through testing and certification, we made the world safer by minimizing fire and electrical risks. UL has expanded well beyond our focused beginnings to services that now span a range of testing, inspection, certification, verification, learning and advisory services: from electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) to environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG), from chainsaw safety to cybersecurity, from seat belts to human factors in autonomous vehicles, from wire and cable to advanced medical devices. In the process, we’ve helped ensure that our customers can keep their brand promises.
UL is much more than our history. We are transforming our business for our next century. As lovers of data, students of science and dedicated safety advocates, we see technology disruption as a business opportunity.
Seven years ago, we launched our Second Century initiative, distinguishing the research, standards development and advocacy activities of the Underwriters Laboratories nonprofit entity from the testing, inspection, certification and advisory activities of UL, the for-profit entity. Since then, we at UL have made 47 acquisitions. Today, we are driving efficiency through our operations and delivering the highest quality services to our customers. Working with customers and other stakeholders, we devise the testing that enables us to anticipate and solve our customers’ biggest safety issues.
As a 125-year-old company, we are clearly not a “startup.” Yet, we are an agile industrial leader implementing new strategies reflective of today’s digital age. We understand our customers’ safety needs from the inside out. There’s never anything old about the rigor of our science and the precision of our testing.
We view the future vision of UL through the lens of opportunity. We pursue the safety of our customers’ new-to-the-world technologies via our Connected Technologies segment while we creatively apply technology to our Retail and Industry segment to help ensure the safety of customers’ more traditional products. We send thousands of field engineers on over 650,000 site visits each year to inspect our customers’ operations around the world. We employ hundreds of software engineers to develop new and different ways to apply digitization to our customers’ safety challenges.
As the breadth and depth of our business offerings have become more complex, I believe it’s important to summarize our risks and opportunities in three general categories:
Progression describes the evolution that our culture is experiencing, that is, to be more data-driven, market-focused and fully engaged in solving our customers’ greatest safety challenges while holding fast to our mission to make the world a safer place. Progression also includes the power of our innovations to create new offerings that will expand our value and relevance to our customers.
Our employees are embracing progression and evolving and growing our collective capabilities. We pride ourselves on being a learning organization where we provide training to enable our employees to embrace the trends that are rapidly reshaping our world.
Protection reflects UL’s overall dedication to safety. UL is the global safety science leader, which means we hold ourselves to the highest standards. Making the world a safer place begins with us in our facilities. We are committed to taking an integrated approach to Protection. We fully understand and embrace our dual role as stewards of our customers’ most valuable assets, while at the same time protecting our own intellectual property.
Sustainability has become a driving force in today’s world. Collectively, we are called to be responsible stewards of the Earth. Sustainability at UL goes beyond addressing the effects of climate change. It also includes taking steps to contribute to a self-sustaining world. In other words, UL is focused on people, planet and profit. For our people, we help ensure a safe work environment and engagement in exciting and meaningful work. UL is taking important steps to reduce its carbon footprint. In fact, as celebration of our 125th anniversary, our employees helped clean 125 rivers and streams around the world. UL pursues profit but never at the expense of our responsibilities to people or planet.
Regulators, our customers and the public have sent the message loud and clear that every organization must take responsibility for building sustainability into its operations. Sustainability is no longer a “nice to do”; it’s an imperative. This imperative means helping our customers implement environmental health and safety initiatives, addressing material and supply chain complexities, and supporting our customers’ participation in a closed-loop economy where resources are recycled, repaired and reused.
As the new CEO, I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the more than 14,000 mission-driven employees of UL, dedicated to helping to make the world a safer place. We are scientists, engineers and professionals with expertise in an impressive array of traditional and emerging sciences. It’s important that we think strategically about embracing the technology that better connects the whole value chain – customers, suppliers, employees and partners. I have a long history of appreciating how to best leverage technology in this ever-changing business environment.
Even in my short time with UL, I have witnessed hundreds of stories of our work with customers. In this 2019 annual report, we are bringing you just a few. It was hard to choose because we are so proud of the work we do behind the scenes to help our over 90,000 customers be more successful in delivering trusted innovation. In the course of our work, we meet extraordinary people whose companies are having an extraordinary impact on the world.
Stay tuned. UL’s best century is yet to come.