In March of 2022, The Home Depot sustainability team welcomed a new Senior Director, Candace Rodriguez. No stranger to the orange apron, Candace has been with the company for 20 years serving as Associate General Counsel and as Divisional Merchandising Manager of Building Materials for Private Brands. We’ve invited Candace to Eco Actions to learn more about her path and her thoughts about sustainability at The Home Depot.
EA: Welcome, Candace Rodriguez. Since joining The Home Depot in 2002, you’ve had a few very different roles. Can you tell us a bit more about your path at The Home Depot?
CR: Sure. I started at The Home Depot as Corporate Counsel 20 years ago. As part of the legal team, I handled transactions for the Procurement and Marketing teams. I also provided legal guidance on a variety of product regulatory and product safety issues. Then later, as Associate General Counsel, I led the Merchandising, Regulatory and Intellectual Property team.
I loved being a corporate attorney however, I wanted to have a different path in the organization, so I changed seats from advisor to client and became a merchant. Merchandising is incredibly exciting, and it was great to have a role where I could drive product innovation. And that led me to Private Brands, where I have had the pleasure of leading our Private Brands Building Materials team for the past two years.
At The Home Depot, product sustainability efforts are often led by our Private Brands. They’re closely connected because we have more influence over the brands we own and strive to offer great values and innovation to our customers. So, the transition from Private Brand Building Materials to Sustainability was a very natural move.
EA: How does your experience with private brands help you as the Senior Director for Sustainability?
CR: Being in private brands gave me great insight into the sourcing and manufacturing of our products. It also gave me visibility into the packaging and distribution of our products. Every day, I was able to see the product life cycle firsthand. And now I work with the teams that look at those same processes through the lens of sustainability.
Regardless of title or role, one of the things I do is connect people. Communication is a big part of my job. Our team listens very closely to our Associates, customers, shareholders, NGOs and other stakeholders. We are constantly listening to their concerns. My job is to facilitate and support collaboration with all the other functional areas in the Company so that those concerns can be evaluated and translated into our everyday business practices.
EA: How does sustainability translate into your everyday life?
CR: Well, I have three kids. They make me think about the actions and decisions I make on a daily basis to ensure that they inherit a sustainable and thriving world. My kids also keep me honest. They are the first to fuss at me for keeping the faucet on a bit too long. My 12-year-old is the most vocal. Everything is a resource to her, so she’s always looking for another use for things. She’ll see a container in my hand and say, “Mom, don’t throw that away; we can use that container to grow seedlings!” So, they keep me honest, and they push me to be focused on sustainability inside and outside of work.
EA: What does Eco Actions mean to you?
CR: To me, Eco Actions are the everyday activities that we can all take to lessen our impact on the environment. Especially when you’re in the thick of life, working, raising kids or being just busy, Eco Actions is a guide. It’s a very straightforward way for The Home Depot to give consumers guidance to make the best decisions for their households and their communities.
The beauty of Eco Actions is that we do the hard work for consumers so that when they choose a product, they can feel good about that decision. For homeowners who want to make more informed, more sustainable decisions, Eco Actions makes it easier.
EA: So, what excites you about being part of the sustainability team?
CR: What excites me the most is the opportunity to do challenging and meaningful work that allows me to make an impact on a large scale. I also love the passion our associates have regarding sustainability and engaging with them daily on our sustainability opportunities. I also enjoy the variety of this practice as this job gives me the ability to
work across The Home Depot. One minute I might be working with merchants discussing more sustainable packaging and the next minute I might be walking a distribution center, looking at how we can better eliminate waste that we have in our facilities. There is so much variety and always – always – work to do.
EA: Given your background as a corporate attorney, what do you think are the most important sustainability issues facing The Home Depot?
CR: I think we have landed on the right five pillars for our organization. Carbon Emissions, Circularity, Sustainable Forestry, Water Conservation and Responsible Chemistry are the right areas for The Home Depot to focus on. The key is that within those pillars, we must continue to drive activities to lessen our impacts and share our progress. We use our annual ESG report to share our sustainability practices and our progress with our stakeholders.
EA: What else do you want people to know about you and Eco Actions at The Home Depot?
CR: Sustainability is a team sport. A lot of the sustainability work that is done at The Home Depot is not done by the sustainability team. It’s done through Transportation or Operations. It’s done in Merchandising. It’s done in Packaging. It’s done through almost every functional area in the business.
We are the spokespeople for those activities. But by no means are we the only team focused on Sustainability. And I think that’s the way it should be. That allows for more passionate adoption of sustainability initiatives across the organization because it’s something that everyone aligns to. It’s not something that’s put upon by a particular group or practice. Sustainability is really part of our culture of taking care of our associates, taking care of our customers and doing the right thing and I’m honored to be a part of The Home Depot’s sustainability journey.