Andreas Barth, Group Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, explains in an interview what strategy we are pursuing in the area of corporate responsibility and what specific measures have already been taken.
What do we mean by CR and how do our activities relate to Bertelsmann?
By the term "corporate responsibility" we mean being clear about and taking responsibility for the effects of our corporate actions. To pursue this task across the Group, there is the Bertelsmann CR Council, where I regularly discuss the relevant issues with colleagues from the other Bertelsmann divisions.
Which CR activity fields have been defined and why exactly were they selected?
At regular intervals, we use relevance analyses to determine which CR topics are particularly important for us and our customers, suppliers and partners.
In the last analysis of 2020, four focus areas were defined for Arvato: Our focus topic "Climate Change" and the other topic areas "Learning," "Fair Working Conditions" and "Diversity, Equity & Inclusion."
What role do our customers play in defining the strategy and setting the goals?
Our customers played a key role in shaping the strategy with their feedback on the relevance analysis. Our customers are also an important factor in implementation, especially for emissions reductions. I am therefore very pleased that we have already received great support from many customers and hope that even more customers will join us in sustainably reducing emissions in the supply chain.
I am therefore very pleased that we have already received great support from many customers and hope that even more customers will join us in sustainably reducing emissions in the supply chain.”
What is our strategy?
Within Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, we have created a CR Council to coordinate initiatives. We regularly discuss our goals, activities and challenges.
First, we survey the global status quo for all topics to create a starting point for further measures. For the topics "Climate Change" and for "Learning" we have also already planned concrete steps for the next few years, which we will now implement over the next few months.
What measures have we already been able to implement in the short term?
We have already implemented a lot over the last few months, especially for our focus topic "Climate Change. One example is the installation and commissioning of the photovoltaic system at our Heijen site in the Netherlands, which will produce around 10,000 mWh per year and thus save almost 4,000 tons of CO2. Further PV systems at other sites are already being planned in concrete terms or are at an early project stage. Similarly, we have already started the conversion to 100% green power globally and are optimistic that we will be able to report success by the end of 2022.
Another good example is the reduction of packaging waste: for this purpose, we have installed automatic packaging machines for some fashion customers at two sites in the USA and in Germany. The switch to more environmentally friendly packaging materials is another measure that is directly visible to the end customer. We are already in close contact with some customers here.
What might long-term measures look like?
With the measures from the "Learning" topic complex, we want to ensure that our employees remain fit for the challenges of tomorrow. This means investing in training programs, providing even more support for our young talents, and establishing platforms for knowledge exchange, for example.
In the long term, the topic of "Climate Change" includes, for example, continuous measures to increase energy efficiency. Responsible purchasing of resources, environmentally friendly heating and cooling concepts, and improved transparency regarding emissions from the transport of goods are also worthy of mention here.
For the other two topics, a global stocktaking will now be followed by a phase of closer internal networking. In the long term, we want to integrate local initiatives more closely so that they can be rolled out across the entire organization.
What are the biggest challenges?
With regard to the focus topic "Climate Change," there is now general consensus that we all have an obligation and must do our part to limit global warming as far as possible. Nevertheless, the same political and legal framework is not yet in place everywhere. We must rise to this challenge if we are to turn our defined goals into reality.