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HNI Corporation


HNI is a leading global provider of workplace furnishings and residential building products, committed to continuously improving their corporate social responsibility strategies by prioritizing sustainability at every step along the way.


Leading with Corporate Social Responsibility

HNI is one of the world’s largest office furniture and building product manufacturers in the world, providing top-notch products for the workplace and the home. Their products range from office tables, chairs, and cubicles to textile lines and even residential fire pits and fireplaces. Brands operating under the HNI name include HON, Allsteel, Gunlocke, and more than a dozen others. As a leader, HNI takes its corporate social responsibility commitments and sustainability goals seriously, constantly improving their processes to reflect these values. Working with the 3E Exchange team, HNI has been tackling sustainability from the ground up by improving their supply chain engagement, data collection, and sustainability reporting processes. HNI embraces the responsibility of supporting our customers and engaging key supply partners in the pursuit of a more resilient future.


quote-bubble-3eA focus on material health and understanding our chemical library gives HNI the opportunity to drive positive change with our transparency goals, both for our product development teams and for our customers. We are working towards 100% material transparency down to the 100ppm level for our products by 2025, comprehensively making better choices today for a better tomorrow. quote-bubble-3e-2

L. Brunie-McDermott, Director of CSR, HNI


Complete Supply Chain Management

Individuals familiar with corporate sustainability and/or supply chain management can likely relate to the difficulties of maintaining supplier relationships and collecting information from hundreds of them. In a world saturated with NDAs and proprietary formulations, building the trust needed to collect in-depth product data from one’s entire supply chain can seem like an impossible task. Despite its challenging nature, HNI has identified full material disclosure (FMD) as a central pursuit needed to meet their goal of 100 percent product transparency by 2025. Aside from the time required to meet these goals, it also became clear that they needed a scalable solution beyond simple data storage that would help them in streamlining the screening and reporting processes across HNI’s full line of products. With this in mind, HNI turned to 3E Exchange for its software solution and in-house expertise to support their journey. 

"HNI chose 3E Exchange  because of their superior customer service and it is the easiest way for us to manage the material transparency and chemical inventory requirements of our business."

- B. Rodgers, Sustainability Manager, HNI Workplace Furnishings


Full Material Disclosure and Reporting on Sustainability


For HNI to meet their ambitious product transparency goal, FMD means knowing and understanding every substance in their products. Joining 3E Exchange with this objective and the desire to create sustainability reports, weekly one-on-one training with 3E Exchange’s dedicated customer success manager (CSM) started right away. HNI was trained how to navigate the 3E Exchange  system efficiently and with confidence. More importantly, the CSM provided the expert knowledge to organize their data in a more universal way that was conducive to supplier outreach and long-term supply chain management. 3E Exchange  even offered new automated workflows and task assignment functionalities in the system to allow easy collaboration across the HNI team.

Uploading and completing large and complex bills of materials (BOMs) was the first main objective, taking time and dedication from HNI’s team. Uploading their existing parts lists and supplier data was done using the 3E Exchange system and the support of their CSM, but filling BOMs with accurate material data led the team into their supplier outreach phase. With their parts lists, products, and supplier information already in 3E Exchange, surveys were then created in 3E Exchange  to fill in any gaps in data. The desired data included mostly substance and BOM data, but also compliance information and material attributes needed for sustainability reporting. Sending surveys to suppliers was also done in 3E Exchange, where surveys and subsequent reminders can be managed. As surveys were completed and sent back, HNI’s team reviewed the information and either accept it into their library of data or send back to their suppliers for revisions. During this process, HNI’s team identified a small number of products as a priority for specific sustainability reports. This allowed HNI to stagger their outreach in the 3E Exchange system - communicating more frequently with suppliers who provided parts of higher concern and slowly gathering data from other suppliers. 





quote-bubble-3eEarly on it became clear to our team that 3E Exchange had the ability to support the full range of sustainability strategies that we needed, even offering custom reporting capabilities, API connections, and room to grow with the platform, serving our global operations. quote-bubble-3e-2

L. Brunie-McDermott, Director of CSR, HNI


The Challenges of Disrupting the Status Quo

Despite their amazing progress, HNI and 3E Exchange both find it necessary to share the learnings that come with a commitment to ambitious sustainability goals. The biggest obstacle HNI has faced so far has been engaging with the correct people, deep into the supply chain, and explaining why and how to address these chemical questions.  HNI sees this as an opportunity to work with their supply chain, as partners. Levels of knowledge across organizations can vary greatly but HNI learned is that most are willing and very much in support of HNI’s goals for material health. Additionally, HNI believes education and transparent discussions will be important in the path forward. While 3E Exchange supports the collection of proprietary information that conceals supplier substance data, this does not meet the transparency requirements of something like a Declare label, therefore or so education will be key to building trust and better partnerships.

This particular challenge underscores the importance of opening the discussion on transparency and looping in suppliers early on. As HNI and other manufacturers have learned, furthering sustainability and healthier products is not something that can be done alone. To support HNI’s initiatives, leadership at 3E Exchange has actively pursued outreach to HNI’s suppliers to encourage and incentivize participation in the Digital Product Passport Library. HNI believes a more consolidated outreach program is necessary to support a more efficient disclosure process for material health, DE&I, and embedded carbon reporting.


Scaling with 3E Exchange

With the success of using 3E Exchange for their supplier outreach and sustainability reporting, HNI is excited to lean into 3E Exchange’s solutions as they grow. This is reflected by HNI and 3E Exchange's current efforts to expand 3E Exchange usage to other business units and suppliers across the globe. Through 3E Exchange and capabilities like API connections, expandable data storage, and custom reporting capabilities, HNI is prepared to tackle their company-wide FMD initiatives with the goal of continually improving, reducing harmful chemicals and galvanizing its suppliers into real sustainable action.




About HNI

HNI Corporation (NYSE: HNI) is a manufacturer of workplace furnishings and residential building products, operating under two segments. The Workplace Furnishings segment is a leading global designer and provider of commercial furnishings, going to market under multiple unique brands. The Residential Building Products segment is the nation's leading manufacturer and marketer of hearth products, which include a full array of gas, electric, wood, and pellet-burning fireplaces, inserts, stoves, facings, and accessories. More information can be found on the Corporation's website at


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