Prioritizing Sustainability with Will Templeton of Amway

June 5, 2024

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As Director of the Global Amway Brand, CSR and Content Production, Will Templeton is responsible for bringing Amway’s value to life in each affiliate market around the world by supporting enterprise environmental sustainability efforts and social impact including grants, volunteering and traceability.

John Shegerian: Get the latest impact podcast right into your inbox each week. Subscribe by entering your email address at to make sure you never miss an interview. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the World. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loops Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts and Impact partners. Closed Loops platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To fine closed loop partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian, and I’m so honored to have with us today, Will Templeton, he’s the director of the Global Amway Brand, CSR and Content Production. Welcome Will to the Impact Podcast.

Will Templeton: John, thanks for having me.

John: Oh, it’s an honor. But before we get talking about all the great work you and your colleagues are doing at Amway, Will, can you go a little bit into where you grew up and how you got on this wonderful journey?

Will: Absolutely. Yeah, so originally I’m from the UK, grew up and educated in the UK. I joined Amway Europe in their marketing division back in 1999, age of myself now, and actually moved over to headquarters here in West Michigan in 2004 for a one year assignment, and I loved it here so much. I’m still here. Just been an awesome journey for me with Amway coming up on my 25th anniversary.

John: So you’ve been there for 25 year assignments. I love it.

Will: That’s right.

John: That’s awesome. Talk a little bit about your role. We get to have chief sustainability officers, ESG, Impact, CSR. Talk about director of the Global Amway brand, CSR and content production. Break down what that really means and how does your days look?

Will: Yeah, absolutely. So we think about Amway brand as our master brand, right? We have a portfolio of product brands underneath that, but the master brand really the business opportunity, who we are, what we offer as a direct selling company really encompasses what I like to think of, kind of the warm and fluffy, the nice, the fun things. I really think that my job is about getting to do all the joyful things. So corporate social responsibility. That’s everything we do to give back to the communities where we are, whether that is through employee or business owner volunteering, grants that we might give to local nonprofits or even in the worst case scenario, disaster response where we respond to natural disasters that happen around the world. I also have responsibility, of course, for environmental sustainability. Now, you mentioned ESG, as a privately held company, we do not necessarily bucket all of those functions together. So I have environmental sustainability, I have corporate social responsibility, which you would bucket under that S-piece, but then we also have a function thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. They would be located in our HR function and then really at the governance level, because we are privately held, we don’t necessarily have a dedicated defined function for that, but we hold ourselves to really high standards around the direct selling industry, the code of conduct that we follow there and the ethics that we adhere to really just to honor our business owners around the world.

John: Just so for our listeners and our viewers to level set them. Amway has more than 14,000 employees and does over 7.7 billion in revenue. How many countries are you operating in approximately?

Will: We are actually in over a hundred countries and territories right now. So as you said, 7.7 billion in 2023. We have over a million Amway business owners around the world. So yeah, we are the biggest direct selling company currently in the world.

John: For our listeners and viewers who want to find Will and all of the 14,000 plus employees and colleagues at Amway, you could go to Let’s just go back to first base sustainability. What does that mean to the Amway brand and how you go about making that part of your culture and DNA Will?

Will: Yeah, I mean that’s a great question John, and a lot to unpack there and maybe a little bit of a history lesson before we jump into it. So sustainability has kind of been ingrained in our DNA from the outset. Our very first Amway product was a product called Liquid Organic Cleaner. It’s a biodegradable product that we introduced way back in the late 50s, early 60s. But to take you back even a little further than that, Nutrilite, which is our vitamins and dietary supplement brand, actually came about before Amway. So Nutrilite was actually established by a gentleman by Carl Rehnborg back in the 1930s, and he really pioneered plant-based vitamins and dietary supplements. He actually introduced the first multivitamin into the United States, and he kind of founded direct selling as an industry. The two gentlemen that founded Amway Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andor actually were Nutrilite distributors first. They were actually pretty successful, but in true entrepreneurial spirit decided they wanted to create their own thing. They went off and founded Amway, and as they started to experience some success, then decided that they really wanted a vitamins and dietary supplement brand in their portfolio, and they brought the Nutrilite brand into the fold company of Amway.

John: Talk about being a visionary and far ahead, I mean, plant-based products are just becoming a huge, huge thing now for that to be developed in the 30s and market in the 30s, those folks were all way ahead of their time, way ahead of their time.

Will: Absolutely. To this day, we still follow Carl Rebel’s philosophy of farming organically to grow those plant-based ingredients.

John: Wow, that’s exciting. That’s really wonderful. I’m sorry I interrupted you. So please go on with the history lesson. I want to hear this.

Will: Well, so as I said, Nutrilite founded in the thirties, folded into Amway. Amway really had a portfolio of home care, home cleaning products that were really based in those biodegradable, environmentally sustainable formulas and since then we’ve expanded that portfolio. We now offer products in skincare, cosmetics, personal care. We offer in-home air treatment systems, in-home water treatment systems. So a huge portfolio of over 450 products and sustainability was part of our DNA, has really been core to who we are. But I would say over time as we’ve grown and expanded, we kind of lost a little bit of focus, right? We became a little bit too reliant on our history, and it was only in more recent years where as an organization we decided that we really needed to bring much more focus back to our efforts in environmental sustainability. So we spent a number of years really kind of understanding the landscape, which I think is incredibly important for anybody who’s embarking on this journey. It’s so broad, it’s so complex, and I think also really easy to have a well-intended action that has unintended consequences elsewhere in the space. So really having to be choiceful and deliberate about where you are going to make a difference within environmental sustainability is incredibly important. So a number of years ago, we actually aligned around a global strategy that outlined the pillars where we felt that we could really have the most impact, where certainly we had passion, but also where we had expertise and those are the areas that we choose to focus on with the regards to environmental sustainability today.

John: Like you said, you’re the number one direct selling business in the world, which itself is daunting because as the leader, everyone’s looking up to you for leadership inspiration, both inspiration and aspiration. Then you’re doing business with, you have over 14,000 employees and you’re in over a hundred countries., how do you even when you come out with a program in sustainability, different cultures, geopolitical issues, how do you harmonize the success of that strategy? That’s not easy task itself.

Will: Absolutely. You are dead on, right? With a global supply chain like ours with such a huge portfolio, it’s incredibly challenging. We have manufacturing footprints in a number of locations here in the US, also in China and India. So it truly is a global value chain, which is why we really chose to put a stake in the ground to say, where do we believe that we can truly make a difference? For us, that’s three areas. The first one is in organic and regenerative sustainable agriculture. We actually own and operate almost 6,000 acres of our own certified organic farmland. We have two locations in the US in Washington state. We have one in Mexico and one in Brazil. So that’s where we’re able to really innovate in the space of sustainable agriculture and really lead the way, not only on our own farms, but also with all of our supplier and partner farms, because now with all of these plant-based ingredients that we leverage, there are certain unique topographies geographies, temperatures that you need to grow specific ingredients. So we work really closely with other farms all around the world who have that right growing environment, all the ingredients that we need and we partner with them through our own certification program, which is called Nutricert, where we are actually not only holding them to meet the standards that we expect from organic growing, but also really partnering with them and helping them to level up their own operations. They actually embrace that partnership and that support. It’s not just about organic farming and the quality of the ingredients, but also how they treat their workforce, other employees getting fair pay, do they have good working conditions? What are they doing to give back to their local communities? So we really take pride in that program, and that’s a space that we really believe that we can lead in sustainability. The other areas where we focus are on products, where we are constantly striving to frankly continuous improvement to reduce packaging waste, to increase the volume of recycled material in all of our packaging, any way that we can lessen our impact on our product portfolio, then we do that. Then of course, the last one is operations, which for us, it’s a huge lift. There we’re really focused on reducing emissions, reducing water usage, and reducing our energy usage as we try to make innovative and choiceful decisions on how we locate our supply chain around the world.

John: Where do you look, you’re number one, so you are the leading brand, Will and as the leader of these choices and initiatives, where do you look for inspiration and aspiration yourself? I think you belong because I’ve been doing this show 17 years. I get to say this, I get to interview all wonderful human beings like you who are part of what I think is one of the most fascinating and wonderful fraternities on the planet. So do you benchmark yourself against other direct selling brands? Do you look outside of the industry to brands like Tesla and other brands that are leading the way in other industries? How do you get your inspiration yourself to create these important and impactful initiatives?

Will: Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned that. I was actually watching another one of your episodes. It was an interview with Anne Tracy from Colgate Palm Olive and she made a great comment about how kind of people of our generation are new to this space, and there really wasn’t broad education available for us when we were at school.

John: That’s right.

Will: She made a really interesting comment that I completely support and did exactly the same, and that was I surrounded myself with smarter people than me. I found people on my team who really knew a lot more about this space and were willing to be patient with me and bring me along and help me to level up my own understanding. To your point about benchmarking, yes, of course we monitor closely what’s happening in industry, what’s happening beyond industry, but we also try to stay true to what we believe we can do and where we believe we can make a difference because I do think it is very easy to slip into this kind of pitfall of trying to do too much and therefore being not meaningful to anybody and so we really do look to direct selling. We look to consumer product goods companies who plan the same product categories that we play in, but really thinking about those areas that we can win, where we can really make a difference and that is the farms, the packaging reduction and our emissions reduction.

John: When you wanted to reboot, as you said, sustainability was part of the DNA and culture of Amway since your start, since the advent, but again, things get lost along the way and in the journey and you rebooted it. How many years did ago did you reboot it, and how has the journey been since you started that reboot process?

Will: I would say it’s been about six or seven years, and the first couple of years, very transparently, the team were very focused on just learning and immersing ourselves in the space and really understanding what are the implications, what’s happening in the world, what are the implications from a regulatory point of view? What are the implications from a banking point of view? What are the implications from a potential fines that you might have to pay going forward if you are not adhering to the different regulations and that was a really heroic effort on behalf of the team before I joined the team to really do a deep dive and understand the landscape, to understand where we felt we could even play. Then the team, and this was really when I had the opportunity to start to be involved, was about driving focus and really putting a stake in the ground and saying, okay, these are the spaces where we believe we can make a difference. Let’s put that stake in the ground. Let’s put a rally and cry behind it and once you kind of get alignment across the organization and you start to communicate and you create awareness, it’s amazing the inspiration, the ideas that will come out from all kinds of sources across the enterprise. It could be the person who’s working third shift in our cosmetics spa, just happens to see something and has the idea of, hey, if we just change this process slightly, it could have a huge impact on reducing waste or improving the supply chain. So I think once we had done that, that made a big difference, a big piece of our journey. Honestly, John was understanding where we are, and I think that’s the toughest part, is to really almost baseline and go through the various steps of bringing in different outside expertise. Looking at self-assessment, we did a double materiality assessment just recently to understand what was the impact we were having, but also what is the impact of the regulations of the world on our business as well. I would say that was one of the toughest parts of our journey to really baseline and understand where we were then getting global alignment behind our strategy and starting to really communicate and gain buy-in around the world. Honestly, I would say that was probably one of the easiest parts because once we did deliver that focus to our organization, people rallied behind it. They got really excited about the possibilities and really engaged in that journey with us.

John: That’s wonderful. For our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, we’ve got Will Templeton with us today. He’s the director of the global Amway Brand, CSR and content production. You can find Will and his colleagues at Let’s talk about one of the pillars of good sustainability practices, radical transparency, traceability. How important is radical transparency and traceability to how Amway supports sustainability?

Will: I would say it’s absolutely critical, and I’m going to take you on another little history lesson if you’ll humor me here, John, so the gentleman I mentioned who founded Nutrilite, Carl Rehnborg, he had this philosophy that frankly, if you wanted something done right, you’d best off do it yourself and so he instilled this complete vertical integration where he was farming organically, he was growing the plant-based ingredients. He was manufacturing the products himself, doing the quality testing himself. That’s something that we have maintained through our Nutrilite brand for its entire history. To this day, we are the only vitamins and dietary supplement brand to grow, harvest and process on our own certified organic farms. So we have this complete vertical integration story, and it really was born out of this desire to really control that process. How I would say that’s evolved, is we have looked to expand it into other areas of our portfolio, across our different product categories as we’ve really looked at the benefits of traceability and it’s manyfold. For us inhouse it allows us to really understand the processes, the actions that we’re taking that are really driving improvement. So we start to make data-driven decisions on the things that we can do to really improve and really enhance our efforts in sustainability. So on our farms, our farm managers know the actions they’re taking to reduce waste, to increase biodiversity, to add more cover crops, whatever those may be, they’re able to actually tangibly measure the impact that that’s having and we can share that with anyone around the world. Now, in terms of transparency and traceability as a value to our business owners or a customer, I think it really speaks to somebody’s right to know, and it’s different in different parts of the world. I think here in the US we would all be fairly comfortable that the FDA are doing their job, and if you can buy a product, it’s probably fairly safe for you, but that’s not necessarily true everywhere in the world, right? There are legitimate concerns for contamination, for counterfeit products and our ability to not only trace those ingredients and that product development and that product manufacturing every single step of the way through all of its quality testing, that gives our business owners who are representing those products and their customers, that real sense of confidence and pride that they could be completely sure exactly what is in that product and what they’re getting from it. In the US I think it really is, it’s a right to know. I think consumers are really demanding the ability to know how are products made, where the ingredients have come from to make sure that they have been responsibly created. I would encourage any of the listeners to go check out where you can actually experience the journey of one of our products from the actual ingredient all the way through to the finished product.

John: We’re going to put that in our show notes, I want our listeners and viewers to be able to trace that. That’s fascinating and that is really radical transparency at its best.

Will: Yes, it really is.

John: I think, it’s so funny you say that because I’ve been thinking more about my children. My children now are 37 and 31, and they really, I remember back when I was their age, it wasn’t a thing. We weren’t questioning what was in our toothpaste or what was in our mouthwash or our underarm goods, but now my children really want to know, and I think there’s a whole generation of their age and younger that are demanding that kind of transparency and I think that’s only goes to the benefit of Amway and other brands like your and all the brands that you represent, the 450 plus brands that you represent, it’s only going to benefit the future of the company.

Will: Absolutely. I do think that consumers are more discerning, right? There’s so much more awareness of clean label products, ingredients that maybe have a watch out or could potentially cause harm or even ingredients with the supply chain where there may be they’re sourced in a less than savory way and so our ability to not only trace that, but to be transparent and to show that to consumers, I think it really is a point of differentiation for us. It really sets us apart from companies that say they are traceable to companies that show they are traceable.

John: Will, I go back 15 years or so, one of my early shows with Jeff Hollander, Jeff Hollander, the founder of Seventh Generation, and Jeff off the air more than even on the air, was sharing with me how many products that are iconic in our households across America and actually the world that we think are so safe because they’ve been in our houses as we were raised as children, and then now we have think in our houses as adults have never gotten any true efficacy testing by the federal agencies that exist. So the fact that you create radical transparency when it comes to your products, it just makes your products stick out and shine even more.

Will: Yeah. Certainly it’s a program that we are incredibly proud of and that we find really is a powerful tool for our business owners as they are talking to customers and selling those products.

John: When I started this show 2007, and it was just starting becoming a thing for companies to have chief impact officers or chief sustainability officers sustainability, when CEOs or other c-suite leaders heard the word sustainability, they always equated it with making them think that it was going to cost their organization more. Help me disavow our listeners and our viewers. How does sustainability really equal more revenue, more savings when done right? Explain that really sustainability is the opposite of what people originally thought it meant?

Will: Absolutely, you are dead on, right? I do think if you looked at a cold, black and white choice of a sustainably produced ingredient to let’s say a mass produced synthetic ingredient, there is a price increase there undoubtedly, but overwhelmingly, the data that we see around the world says that it has become such a powerful purchase driver. So not only for customers, right? Not only is a customer voting with their wallet and choosing, okay, I’m going to pick this responsibly, sustainably sourced product where I know where the ingredients came from and I know that I can feel good about using it. So absolutely as a purchase driver from that perspective. But we see as well, from a direct selling industry perspective, as we are trying to attract new people who want to own and operate that Amway business, is Amway a company that they want to be associated with? Is that a business that they feel they can represent? Even beyond that for employees, I mean particularly here in the US, as we kind of came out of the pandemic, we went through this great resignation and now we’re finding as we’re staffing up again and people are coming back to the office, that frankly it’s a really important decision factor for employees choosing on who they want to work for and where they want to work. So it’s incredibly important beyond the kind of dollars and cents, it’s really hard to put a value on it, but absolutely we see it as a growth driver.

John: That is such a brilliant point, Will, post pandemic. There is such an accelerated growth of employees that just don’t want to make a paycheck. They now want to work for a company that makes a difference and like you said, it’s not only attraction, but it’s retention of those great people and I think that’s a great point that gets lost along the way in the dollars and cents of things because as you and I know, low turnover means a better, more solid, more stable company and I think that’s a great point. You’ve been there 25 years stints you’ve done now at Amway. Talk a little bit about, let’s look backwards and forwards a little bit, Will. Talk about some of your favorite initiatives that you’ve been able to accomplish in Amway, but also give us a little glimpse into the future of some other initiatives you’re working on that you’re really excited about as well.

Will: Yeah, absolutely. So the majority of my journey, again, I’ll share a little bit of history, but the majority of my time has been working on our product brands, right? And doing everything from the market research to concept development, product development, go to market, brand positioning, the full gamut across the entire portfolio. one of the things generally about Amway that makes me the most proud is the integrity with which we operate with. I always share this example with other folks in the US. You remember the romaine lettuce e coli outbreak a few years ago?

John: Absolutely.

Will: If that was one of our products, frankly, it never would’ve left the building because we really do go through the extra diligence, the extra effort to make sure that the products that we are sending out have been tested to the very, very high standard because we are asking Amway business owners, independent business owners to put their own reputation behind our products. So we always go above and beyond with our quality products. In fact, a Nutrilite brand conducts over 500,000 different quality tests every year. It’s an insane amount of quality testing. But that level of integrity really does bring a sense of pride for me from the product side. I think as immerse myself working on the Nutrilite brand, where I really got to understand the richness of the stories of organic farms and plant-based ingredients and how I’ve seen that really spread across the portfolio as we really are leaning into plant-based ingredients and plant-based products more and more across all of our categories because we see it as a renewable resource, but also because we see it as an incredibly efficacious ingredient and a way to deliver incredibly healthy products. Amway is kind of on a journey as we look to evolve beyond a huge portfolio of health and wellness products into more of a more holistic health and wellbeing proposition where we are offering more robust cross-category, holistic solutions that people can really achieve their health and wellbeing goals. Whether that is I’m trying to lose some weight, I’m trying to improve my fitness, or maybe I’m just looking to stay in shape as I age and be sure that I can be able to pick up that grandkid when I’m 80 years old and still maintain the ability to do the things I love as I get later on in life. So that’s kind of the journey that we are on that’s becoming really exciting as we look around the world, the way people think about health and wellbeing has shifted, right? I think we’re beyond diet and exercise, it’s far more holistic. It’s much more in the space of overall wellbeing, mindfulness, relieving stress, making sure that we’re sleeping enough, making sure that we have the resources that our families need to stay healthy and I think Amway is really uniquely positioned to offer a really robust experience in that space and deliver very impactful health and wellbeing solutions.

John: I love it. Will, as you and I know, sustainability is a journey. It has no finish line, so I want you to know that you’re always welcome back on the Impact podcast. It’s been a delight having you on today. Will Templeton of Amway. To find Will and his colleagues in all their great products, please go to Will, you’re always welcome back on this show and thank you and all of your colleagues at the Amway Global for making the world a better and more sustainable place.

Will: Thank you, John. It’s a pleasure.

John: This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit

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