How We Work

  • Sustainability is embedded firmly at the core of 3M and in the strategic planning process we use for every region, every market, and every business.

    In each of our business groups and regions we have dedicated Sustainability leaders who develop a relevant and well-informed strategy specific to their market demands and business goals.

    Annually, like many companies, we go through a strategic planning process during which our divisions and regions develop their business strategies for the next few years. However, unlike others, we formally require that each plan address Sustainability factors relevant to their market needs and business opportunities.

    R&D at 3M is a little different: we separate the R and the D.

    First, the R. Scientists in our central laboratory are free to focus on pure research, in search of unscripted, unexpected opportunities for breakthroughs. 

    Our unique “15% Culture” gives them the freedom to follow their instincts. At the same time, our Tech Forum is a key enabler of collaboration. This self-directed, self-organized group unites 10,000-plus scientists and engineers who work together to solve problems across oceans and continents, regardless of which business they’re from. 

    For the D, 3M development teams within each of our business groups draw upon our core technologies to create products for targeted markets and geographies.

    Moving forward, we will continue to expand beyond our own operations and focus more on 3M Sustainability goals and the needs of our customers and communities. While we recognize the importance of what we do in our own businesses, and will continue to innovate there, we see that far greater impact can be realized when we partner to understand and overcome the challenges we face together.

  • Corporate Governance

    Corporate Governance

    3M believes that good corporate governance practices serve the long-term interests of stockholders, strengthen the Board and management, and further enhance the public trust 3M has earned from more than a century of operating with uncompromising integrity and doing business the right way.

    3M’s Board of Directors has adopted Corporate Governance Guidelines which provide a framework for the effective governance of the company. The guidelines address matters such as the respective roles and responsibilities of the Board and management, the Board’s leadership structure, the responsibilities of the independent Lead Director, director independence, the Board membership criteria, Board committees, and Board and management evaluation. 

    The Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for overseeing and reviewing the Guidelines at least annually and recommending any proposed changes to the Board for approval. The Corporate Governance Guidelines, the Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws, the charters of the Board committees, the Director Independence Guidelines, and the Board of Directors Code of Conduct provide the framework for the governance of the Company and are available on our Web site at, under Investor Relations— Governance.

  • Enterprise Risk

    Enterprise Risk

    At 3M, we continually evaluate our approach to potential risks facing the company. The concept of risk appetite and tolerance is an essential component of our strategic planning, and it’s the responsibility of our senior business leaders to plan accordingly.

    It is our firm belief that good corporate governance practices serve the long-term interests of stockholders, strengthen the Board and management, and further enhance the public trust 3M has earned from more than a century of operating with uncompromising integrity and doing business the right way. Governance includes broad risk oversight by the Board and its committees. Risk analysis is reported to the full Board, the General Auditor, and Chief Compliance Officer. Both the General Auditor and Chief Compliance Officer are appointed by, and report to, the Audit Committee of the Board.

  • Corporate Code of Conduct

    Corporate Code of Conduct

    The Code of Conduct is part of our 3M playbook and is critical to driving sustainable growth. We know that building an ethical foundation protects the corporation and increases corporate value. 

    We owe it to ourselves, our shareholders, and our customers to do the right thing. 

    Through the years, 3M has built a reputation globally for taking an ethical approach to business. That said, with 91,500 employees and subsidiary operations in 70-plus countries, it’s no easy task to do business the right way, everywhere, every day. 

    To make it as simple as possible, we have developed one Code of Conduct that applies globally. Our Code of Conduct summarizes 3M’s compliance principles and raises awareness for doing business “the right way, always and everywhere.” The Code is our guide for answering questions and providing direction when the right choice may not be clear.


    3M’s Code of Conduct defines how we work:

    Be Good 
    Be Honest 
    Be Fair
    Be Loyal
    Be Accurate
    Be Respectful

    3M employees, including all supervisors, managers and other leaders, are responsible for knowing and following the ethical, legal, and policy requirements that apply to their jobs and for reporting any suspected violations of law or the Code. Executives and managers are accountable for creating and promoting an inclusive workplace environment where compliance and ethical business conduct are expected and encouraged.

  • Human Rights

    Human Rights

    3M is committed to assuring human rights in our own operations and in any business that works on our behalf. Our Human Rights Policy applies to all 3M employees, contingent workers, anyone doing business with or on behalf of 3M, and candidates for hire at 3M. In 2014, we became a participant of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), thereby committing to align our operations and strategies with the UNGC principles on human rights.

  • ompensation


    3M is committed to providing competitive market pay and comprehensive benefits. In addition to providing a professional work environment that promotes innovation and rewards performance, 3M’s total compensation for employees includes a variety of components for sustainable employment and the ability to build a strong financial future.

  • Employee Programs

    Employee Programs

    Our science not only impacts our customers around the world, it makes a difference in the way we work.

    Engaged employees, we believe, are more satisfied with their work, tend to stay longer, and are more productive and committed. So we foster and reinforce behaviors that support engagement on many levels, including networking, collaboration, diversity and inclusion. We focus on the quality and the impact of professional development and career growth.

  • Health and Safety

    Health and Safety

    As a company that makes a vast array of products designed to protect workers, 3M is front and center in the global effort to bring new science and innovation to workplace safety. At the same time, as an enterprise with 91,500 employees working around the world, we are always taking steps to further advance the safety of our employees.

    Since 2006, due to these diligent efforts, worldwide lost time rates have decreased 42 percent for 3M employees.

  • Environmental Management

    Environmental Management

    3M formalized its commitment to environmental stewardship when the company’s board of directors adopted the 3M Environmental Policy in 1975. This policy established the framework for our approach to responsible environmental management and conservation of resources, emphasizing prevention of pollution at the source.

    Since then, we have created supporting policies using a needs-driven process. When we identify potential risks to the environment, health, and safety of our employees, products, and communities, we take steps to modify processes and standards that address these risks.  

    3M's strategies for sustainable development encompass the pursuit of customer satisfaction and commercial success within a framework of environmental, social, and economic values. We are committed to complying with all applicable environmental requirements worldwide.  Beyond compliance, the company continues to make significant investments to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations; and our products with sustainable attributes help customers reduce their environmental footprint and help to meet their Sustainability goals. Always, 3M believes environmental policy and regulations should be guided by science-based decision making.


  • Raw Materials

    Raw Materials

    The world’s population is growing larger, living longer, and consuming more — which puts a strain on finite natural resources. To address this challenge, 3M continuously looks for ways to recover, reuse, and recycle by-products and other waste material. We are moving from recyclable to renewable materials in our product and package design. Improving our raw material usage through product design and operational considerations provides cost benefits throughout our supply chain, in material use, energy, and transportation efficiency.  

  • Water


    Water is the most valuable natural resource for life and thriving ecosystems; therefore, our planet’s consumption must be nurtured and thoughtfully managed. We recognize that reducing water consumption in our operations and improving water quality are important elements of optimizing our environmental stewardship. Quantitatively, the availability of water must meet the needs of current and future consumer demands. In addition, water quality must comply with local regulations and be reliable in the long term.

    Water is an important component for the manufacturing and support systems of several of our products. Because of this, 3M continues to actively understand, manage, and work toward reducing our corporate water footprint while providing innovative solutions to our customers.

    We respect our ecological and ethical responsibility and have a vested interest in preserving and improving water availability and quality relative to our operations and the communities we serve.

  • Climate and Energy

    Climate and Energy

    Through the years, 3M has been a proactive leader in addressing both the challenges and the opportunities presented by climate change and energy conservation.

    Our proactive leadership is best defined by five areas of action:

    • Executive-level commitment to these important topics and our related principles, commitments, and risk-mitigation planning efforts
    • Industry-leading efforts to reduce our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
    • Extensive public policy engagement on both climate change and energy conservation
    • A decades-long track record of improving energy efficiency at our locations
    • Serving our customers through a wide range of innovative products that help them improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints
    3M, as a science-based company, supports a proactive approach of science-based GHG emission reduction targets.  
  • Suppliers


    We understand that our Sustainability impacts extend beyond our own operations. By purchasing raw materials and services from small and large companies all over the world, we participate in a global, complex, supply chain. And it doesn’t stop there. Our suppliers have their own suppliers, extending back to the original source of each material we use.

    At each step in the supply chain, there are benefits (like employment and community-building) as well as the potential for negative impacts (like pollution or unsafe or unfair labor practices). Our commitment is to maximize the positives and mitigate the potential negatives by aligning our supplier expectations with our own corporate values. We expect our suppliers to be transparent about their environmental and social practices, provide improvement ideas and work with us to transform our shared supply chain when needed.

Learn more about How We Work

Learn more about how Sustainability is embedded firmly at the core of our business; from our own operations, to how we collaborate with customers.

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