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Our Corporate Social Responsibility

A Q&A with our CEO, Tom Ryan

  1. How do you engage with the communities where you do business?
  2. What will be the major opportunities for Service Corporation International for sustainability in 2019?
  3. What do you believe is the most important aspect of SCI's future success?
  4. How will the composition of your Board help guide the Company to its long-term strategic goals?

How do you engage with the communities where you do business?

Honoring Those Who Serve

One of our most profound offerings is The Dignity Memorial Public Servants Program allowing us to recognize the courage and selflessness of those who serve our towns and cities. This program offers, at no cost, dignified and honorable tributes, including funeral services and cemetery property, for career and volunteer law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency services personnel who fall in the line of duty. Over the years, we have been privileged to serve over a thousand fallen heroes.

Associates are encouraged to build relationships with public servants in their respective communities and show appreciation for these services. For example, some associates like the manager of Shadow Mountain Mortuary in Scottsdale, Arizona, have built such strong ties with the local fire department that her colleagues often volunteer in the community alongside the station personnel.

Comforting Those Who Grieve

We are committed to educating professional caregivers about the funeral profession and practices so they are not only able to effectively support families of all cultures and religions, but can also provide a seamless continuum of care for all individuals they serve. Participating Dignity Memorial locations offer free funeral education courses to hospice professionals for continuing education credit.

We understand the loss of a loved one and the accompanying grief can be an extremely difficult experience. To help people recover, we developed the Dignity Memorial Guidance Series featuring the insights of renowned grief experts. This extensive collection of booklets, brochures, DVDs and CDs offers professional advice and compassionate insight to help caregivers assist others in dealing with the complex emotions of grief.

We also offer the Dignity Memorial L.I.F.T.® program which helps widows and widowers adjust to the loss of a spouse by socializing with others who share similar feelings and experiences. Widows or widowers can engage in activities like luncheons, sporting events, holiday activities, day trips, and educational seminars. There are no fees or dues to participate in the program. L.I.F.T. participants are only responsible for their meals or personal expenses, and participation is not restricted to those who have been served by Dignity Memorial providers.

We Care About Our Veterans

We are also honored to support veterans and military servicemen and women who have helped serve and protect our country. Through the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program, we offer dignified funeral services with military honors at no cost to eligible homeless and indigent veterans. The program has provided burial services for more than a thousand homeless veterans since the program's inception in 2000. We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans organizations to ensure the fine men and women who served our country are not forgotten.

What will be the major opportunities for Service Corporation International for sustainability in 2019?

We have been addressing sustainability on a less formal basis throughout the Company with various inclusion and diversity efforts, improvements to address our water usage, and other Company processes for many years. Our plans for 2019 include the first phase of a formal program, which will begin with an evaluation of our sustainability goals, evaluation of the gaps and opportunities, creation of our sustainability plan, and evaluation and reporting of our sustainability performance.

We are currently developing our Supplier Code of Conduct. Our policy will ensure our suppliers have safe working conditions and that their employees are treated fairly and with respect. Additionally, we encourage responsible and environment friendly production processes.

We are making efforts to ensure our supplier diversity policy reflects our Company values. SCI already procures from a very large pool of small and diverse suppliers; however, we will improve this by fostering an inclusive procurement process that provides the maximum opportunity for small and diverse businesses to participate as partners and suppliers of goods and services. An additional benefit of ensuring that these suppliers are included in the procurement process is increased competition, which leads to lower costs and increased levels of innovation, service, and product quality.

The Company will expand water recycling or reclamation efforts currently in place. Reclaimed or recycled water is the process of converting wastewater into water that can be reused for other purposes. SCI believes that reclaiming water for reuse instead of using freshwater is a valuable water-saving measure. This process benefits ecosystems, improves stream flow, nourishes plant life, and recharges aquifers, all as a part of the natural water cycle. In addition to our reclamation efforts we are also piloting water conservation technology at several of our cemeteries.

We are working on a carbon footprint evaluation, which will measure the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels for transportation and the production of consumer goods related to our business.

We strive for more transparency with our stakeholders about our environmental, economic, and social impacts. We are having conversations with our major stakeholders to ensure we are meeting their expectations around sustainability reporting. We are evaluating the various frameworks for sustainability reporting, gathering information, and will report this information in a clear and comparable manner once our evaluation is complete.

What do you believe is the most important aspect of SCI's future success?

Our people, first and foremost, are the number one reason for our success. Therefore, getting the tone at the top right and focusing on an outstanding corporate culture rises to the top of my priorities. SCI’s associates do incredibly important work and are critical to our success. They compassionately support our client families through very difficult times and help them celebrate the lives of lost loved ones by preserving memories that transcend generations with dignity and honor.

We have built an incredibly strong culture that offers mutual support, promotes trust, rewards employees’ efforts, and ensures employees know their work is meaningful and makes a difference to each of the client families they serve. Most recently we have started surveys and focus groups around inclusion and diversity and received our Great Place to Work Certification.

Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion and diversity have always been core principles for Service Corporation International. But now more than ever, those values are crucial for the success of our Company as we support client families across North America. A culture of inclusion leverages the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, thoughts, and perspectives among our team of associates, enabling us to make better business decisions and remain relevant with our customers.

In support of our culture of inclusion and diversity, we developed specific leadership training required for every associate who manages others. The program provides tools and support in promoting an inclusive culture where all individuals have an opportunity to thrive.

In 2017, we conducted surveys and focus groups from a wide cross-section of our associate population. A committee was assembled to address the results and ensure that inclusion and diversity are integrated into the Company’s long term business strategy.

In 2018, we held our first Women's Leadership Conference, which allowed an opportunity for women leaders across the company to connect, share ideas, learn from each other, and continue to enhance their leadership skills.

Supporting a culture of INCLUSION and
DIVERSITY through:

  • Employee leadership training
  • CEO action
  • Commitment

To underscore our commitment to advancing inclusion and diversity, I have joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™. The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance inclusion and diversity within the workplace. Recognizing that change starts at the executive level, I, along with our entire executive team, am committed to the advancement of inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

Great Place to Work Certification

During 2017, to increase awareness of our Company culture to external candidates, strengthen pride and commitment with current associates, and build visibility for our brand we initiated the process of obtaining certification as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute.

One of the many benefits of the Great Place to Work certification is being identified as a workplace with a high-trust culture. The Great Place to Work certification is also a great attraction for recruiting talent. Not only are the right employees key to keeping families satisfied and establishing a lasting reputation, but they are also central to our Company’s internal business culture.

We obtained our Great Place to Work certification in 2017, but we were inspired to continue to push forward with additional initiatives. During 2018, we surveyed over 2,800 associates on topics such as our atmosphere, communication, pride, rewards, challenges, and management. Leadership was able to benchmark our culture against that of some of the world’s most successful companies, but also identify improvements from the 2017 survey results and identify areas where we can continue to make progress. We are proud to say that for the second year in a row, we achieved the Great Place to Work certification based on feedback from our associates.

Maintaining a diverse and inclusive culture that is high-trust is a competitive advantage. The confidence and relationships we have built with our associates translate into superior customer service and innovation in the celebration of life services for our client families. We will continue our efforts to engage and support our associates and look for their feedback through surveys and even through online sources such as Glassdoor, to ensure we are maintaining the culture we believe in.

How will the composition of your Board help guide the Company to its long-term strategic goals?

The composition of the board has become more diverse and reflective of our core values.

  • Percentage of women has increased from 9% to 30%
  • Average age has decreased from 70 to 66
  • Average tenure has decreased from 24 to 15 years

The composition of our board is becoming more diverse in its perspectives and experiences and is more reflective of the communities that we serve and further enhances our strong core values. In May 2018, Jakki L. Haussler and Sara Martinez Tucker were elected to the SCI Board of Directors. Both members bring unique perspectives to our Company and increase the diversity of the Board. We believe their unique perspectives will contribute insight for evaluation of corporate strategy, setting incentives, and enhancing our corporate culture. 

Additionally, the Board has a strong Lead Independent Director with a wide variety of experience including government service, private sector, and a lifetime commitment of advocating for people with disabilities. He is fully committed to ensuring decisions are made in alignment with Company values and strategies. Our Lead Independent Director, Tony L. Coelho, looks out for the well-being of the Company, our diverse communities, and the shareholders’ interests as a priority.


For further information on corporate governance structure, including how our Board supports our corporate responsibility initiatives, please see our 2019 proxy statement.

2019 Proxy Statement