People are at the heart of our business, whether they are our employees, our customers or within our partner organisations. We employ over 12,000 people, from 115 nationalities, and welcome the diversity that it brings. We continue to nurture an inclusive work environment giving everyone opportunities to thrive. Our Diversity and Inclusion taskforce plays a strategic role in ensuring that we achieve our set objectives in this area and live by our values of becoming an equal opportunity employer.
Our business is also driven by anticipating and meeting the needs of our customers. Our transformation continues to drive change and stimulate innovative ideas to improve our interaction with our customers. Digitalisation is elemental to our strategy of becoming a hybrid retailer and offering a seamless omnichannel experience. The introduction of modern mobile technology, like Xstore, enables us to improve our customer experience by connecting with them in a new and agile way as well as empowering our store associates. We are also equipping our teams with necessary tools enabling them to work more effectively while enhancing their skills. One example is the success of MyChalhoub App which has created a stronger sense of community amongst our team members enabling us simultaneously to share lessons which enhance our customer experience.
Our partners play a key role during our transformation into an inherently leaner and more sustainable organisation. As we reduce our physical footprint, we are paradoxically personalising our shopping experience through our omnichannel presence. We are also entering a new frontier in sustainability at Chalhoub Group – one that focuses on our global value chain and responsible consumption. This will require increased collaboration with both our partners and suppliers as we seek to enhance our practices and raise awareness amongst our consumers. Our supplier scorecard is just one step in that direction that we aim to supplement with other initiatives in the coming years.
We continue to take actions to reduce our environmental footprint as we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to future generations. We know that minimising our impact involves technical solutions such as favoring eco-design in our stores and supporting our people in playing their part. We have run several initiatives with our teams to reduce waste, increase recycling and overall save energy. One key project was the installation of solar panels in two of our main buildings in the UAE. We have continued testing the strength of our suppliers’ environmental management and remain committed to the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact which reinforce the values which support our business.
Our employees are dedicated to serving their communities across the region and their commitment is evident throughout our organisation. Thanks to our Chalhoub IMPACT initiatives, more than 3,700 employees volunteered in our activities providing either financial support or time for schools, young people, the environment, and people in need. In 2018, these initiatives had a positive impact on over 22,000 people. We continue to fund a diverse range of community projects with a special focus on sustainable development aid programmes.
As an appointed board member of the UNGC in 2018, I take it upon myself to continue driving a responsible business. We would like to thank everyone, and particularly our team members for their contribution to another successful year for the Group. Our commitment is to build on the solid foundations put in place without ever forgetting that we have people at heart. We will continue to ensure that we embed our four sustainability pillars - People, Partners, Planet and Impact- into the core of our business as they provide a robust framework for strong performance and they give us a clear vision for the future: a future which we look forward to with commitment and optimism.