Letter to Employees | July 2021
I want to update all of you on the many initiatives we are currently undertaking to strengthen Sinclair’s sustainability and responsible investing efforts, including enhancing our risk management profile, and better aligning our long-term activities around environmental, social, and governance factors (ESG). For those that are not familiar with the concept, ESG are factors by which investors and other stakeholders evaluate companies regarding their sustainability and responsible investing efforts. Sinclair has a long history of supporting these values and as our company has grown and evolved, we have sought to better measure and quantify our progress in these important areas. Over the past year, Sinclair has charged forward on initiatives to advance all three aspects of ESG, and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the progress we have made.
Despite a challenging year due to the pandemic, we gained a better understanding of the progress already achieved with regards to ESG and have identified other areas in which to focus our future efforts. We launched programs to measure the current impact of our activities in these areas and formed committees to more formally address our efforts going forward. Sinclair also made key hires, including a Chief Compliance Officer and a Learning and Development Manager, while our Board of Directors added an independent and our first female Director. Sinclair’s commitment to these initiatives has never been greater, and we expect to build on the progress we made in 2020 to further our efforts in the years ahead.
On the environmental front, Sinclair is seeking to lower its carbon footprint by focusing on ways to reduce electricity consumption, increase recycling, and limit waste. We formed a working operations committee and they have several initiatives already underway to accomplish these goals, as we seek to reduce costs and minimize the impact on the planet. For example, a major effort is underway to replace older and less energy-efficient equipment across the company, from the transmitters that broadcast our signals to the heating and air conditioning equipment in our buildings. We also are replacing older, less-efficient lighting with highly-efficient LED lighting. For this initiative alone, we have identified savings of 14 GWh, roughly the equivalent to the electricity used by over 1,300 U.S. homes in an entire year! Also, this year, we are moving our RSNs and our Tennis operation to new state-of-the-art facilities, which will give us room to grow while utilizing new highly-efficient equipment to distribute our sports content. Other activities the committee is overseeing include increasing recycling across the company and focusing on purchasing greener supplies. Already, we received recognition from Office Depot for our leadership in greener purchasing, one of only 19 organizations that they acknowledged for these efforts. The award evaluated company expenditures on products with eco-attributes such as recycled content, energy-efficiency, reduced harsh chemicals, and other eco-friendly attributes.
Sinclair has a long history of being a good corporate citizen through social initiatives in support of the communities we serve. Sinclair’s support manifests itself in many ways. Did you know that in 2020 alone, we engaged in partnerships with over 340 charitable organizations? Our activities with those organizations ran the gamut from playing an active role in day-to-day fundraising efforts for many local causes, volunteering at food banks and other charities, conducting blood drives, and assisting those impacted by natural disasters, to running public service announcements (PSAs) on our TV stations to aid in the dissemination of important information to the general public. Sinclair also sponsors numerous community events including health expos, blood and food drives, and parades. During 2020, we helped raise over $37 million, collected over 9 million pounds of food, provided 2 million meals, gathered over 320 thousand toys, backpacks, school supplies, and coats, and aired over 1,200 hours of Public Service Announcements (PSAs). Giving back to the community has always been in the DNA of our organization and I am so very proud of all our employees who give of themselves to better the communities in which we operate. I want to also mention that our minority-focused Diversity Scholarship program recently awarded scholarships to 7 deserving students, who demonstrate a promising future in the broadcast industry. This is the sixth year we have awarded these scholarships, demonstrating our commitment to investing in future leaders.
Another important aspect of serving the community is our dedication to raising issues of local importance through our award-winning news operations, keeping viewers aware of what is occurring in their communities, including uncovering corruption and other injustices. In 2020 alone, Sinclair received over 350 news awards. We also are able to provide a forum for our viewers voices through conducting numerous town hall meetings focused on issues of local interest.
In the end, Sinclair’s success is thanks to our most important asset – you, our employees – as we strive to be an employer of choice. It is your dedication and hard work that enables Sinclair to be a trusted partner to our viewers and a valuable resource to our communities. We support our employees in a number of ways, through a comprehensive benefits package, as well as resources to enable and enhance your skill sets, and we have worked hard to ensure we provide a fair and safe workplace.
Highlights of our efforts include:
– We conduct surveys of our workforce and use the results to assist us in making decision about opportunities for improvement.
– We provide on-the-job training and other learning opportunities to employees so that they gain and develop necessary skills for optimal job performance. We are working on furthering our efforts by enhancing our learning management system that will enable employees to have a more active role in their learning and development.
– We actively encourage our internal job announcement program as a part of our efforts to support employee growth by taking on new career opportunities.
– We take pride in our practices to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our employees. We maintain best practices for safety and health through policies and procedures and access to our employee assistance program.
– Our employment practices are rooted in our policies against discrimination, harassment and retaliation to ensure a positive working environment for all and when issues arise, we take quick and decisive action.
Sinclair has always sought to maintain an engaged workforce and to attract candidates through our broad recruiting outreach and over the past year, we took further steps to solidify this mindset. We formed the Employee Experience and Diversity and Inclusion working groups, developed mission statements for these areas, and emphasized focus on best practices to attract, retain and develop employees. We increased our recruiting outreach efforts to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), launched an employee reward and recognition program, and are searching for a candidate to fill our diversity-focused position of Culture and Talent Development Manager. In the year ahead, we will be working on enhancing our leadership and talent development programs. It is a testament to our efforts that Sinclair recently received a nomination from the Baltimore Business Journal for its Best Places to Work list.
Sinclair takes corporate governance and responsibilities to its stakeholders very seriously. We remain committed to finding the best representation to drive success in the organization in the years ahead. Diversity of thought, skills, background, and experience are important elements the company looks for in its leadership team. Recently, we took a number of actions to strengthen the governance of our company. We hired a Chief Compliance Officer and made some changes to our Board structure, including adding Board Regulatory and Governance/Nominating committees. We also announced our intent to increase the size of our Board by two members to reflect the need of this diversity of thought and increase independence as we move forward in an evolving industry. One of the two positions was recently filled by our first female Board member.
Cybersecurity is a governance risk that remains a high priority. During 2020, we instituted security evaluation measures for our vendors, developed and deployed metrics and methods to measure the efficacy of our cyber security initiatives and data, and launched a new security training and awareness platform. We have recently increased our security training to monthly, from quarterly, are strengthening our security incident management policies, and are currently shaping a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) project for upcoming deployment in 2022. In addition, we just hired our first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
In summary, Sinclair has evolved in many ways throughout its history, and we continue to ensure that we are well-positioned to succeed in the years ahead. One key to this success is ensuring that we are making progress in the area of risk management, including embracing the key areas that ESG embodies – the environment, social initiatives around the communities in which we operate and our employee base, and prudent and proactive governance. We are currently working on specific goals in these areas for the future, and I will share them with you once finalized. We will also be launching a contest for employees to submit their ideas for how we can be a greener organization. Finally, if you are working with any outside constituencies that are looking for details about our ESG efforts, feel free to reach out to our investor relations department, at [email protected] which can provide you with materials that detail our activities in the space.