Nowadays, more and more often company managers put emphasis on the fact that their organization fits into a broader social context and undertakes initiatives related to corporate social responsibility. What activities do you carry out in this area, how is it implemented, what does responsible leadership mean to you?
Self-awareness of the impact on the environment is now something that every self-respecting business cannot do without. Today, strategic and investment decisions are also environmental decisions. The demands of customers on suppliers and manufacturers’ demands on supply chains are increasing in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. VELUX has been betting on this transformation for many years. Our first strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was adopted back in 2009, long before it was even discussed, and now we have set ourselves an even more ambitious goal – to achieve lifelong carbon neutrality. In addition, we set ourselves a number of ambitious and pioneering goals related to sustainable development in the spirit of the ESG idea, i.e. broadly understood corporate responsibility for impact on people, society and the environment.
We calculate, among other things, the carbon footprint of roof windows using a product life cycle analysis. In 2009, for the first time, we set our own carbon footprint in the range 1 and 2 and committed to reducing it by 50%. Through consistent actions and pro-climate investments, we have managed to implement it. In 2020, with the new Sustainable Development Strategy, we went much further. The VELUX Group has joined the Science Based Targets initiative with targets of a 100% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions and a 50% reduction in Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Thus, it chose the most ambitious path to stop global warming at 1.5°C. The company also decided to repay its debt to the planet. Together with WWF, it will plant and protect tropical forests to eliminate 5.6 million CO2 from the atmosphere, corresponding to its entire historical carbon footprint, so that for its 100th anniversary, the VELUX Group is to be Carbon-Neutral for Life, zero-emission and without historical carbon “debt”.
More and more investors and financial institutions choose as their partners those organizations that operate in accordance with ESG recommendations. Do you think that is right? How does the company you manage go beyond the so-called business as usual? What is it doing for the climate, local communities, diversity or what would you like to implement in the near future?
Undoubtedly, the activities of companies for the environment and climate, measuring the carbon footprint, striving for carbon neutrality will become a common practice, or even a requirement in the next few years, and companies and entire national economies that do not adapt to these changes will lose the competitive edge on the European and global market. Previously, companies competed with each other in terms of prices or product quality, now reducing the carbon footprint is becoming an increasingly important aspect.
Foreign contractors require strong declarations and commitments from companies regarding the reduction of their carbon footprint, on which they make cooperation with them dependent in the long term. I think this is the beginning of a huge transformation of the way we do business and bring products and solutions to market. To stay competitive, companies will need to take sustainable actions that include manufacturing, supply chain, products and employees. Achieving neutrality requires action in many fields, which is why management boards should already integrate this into their long-term strategy and include cooperation with their partners in this respect.
The guideline for our activities for the next decade are the goals included in the Sustainable Development Strategy. We strive for 100% renewable electricity in factories. To this end, a strategic partnership has been established with Schneider Electric, which advises on process optimization. In addition, VELUX will innovate technologically to reduce the carbon footprint of its products by 50% and to increase waste management to nearly 100%. 90% of our roof window packaging is plastic-free and made only of certified cardboard.
ESG is an impulse for companies to further develop and innovate. As a result, new solutions will be developed that give customers more benefits while reducing the negative impact on the environment. The ESG policy also benefits the company’s employees, their safety, development opportunities and adaptation to change. Local communities benefit from cooperation with us as part of various educational activities or support for projects important from the point of view of the local community.
Every company creates its corporate culture that embodies the values that customers see externally. Do customers prefer to choose this particular company because it does something good with which the customer identifies or is it mainly price-driven purchasing decisions? What is your opinion, what trends have you observed, is something changing in this area?
ESG standards allow you to compare companies based on very specific and measurable parameters. ESG reporting contains data that m.in insurers or banks are looking for. Thanks to them, they can assess whether the company is operating in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. It is definitely better to compete in the field of improving environmental, social and business standards. In 2023, companies will be officially covered by the ESG reporting requirement, but we are reporting now because we want to be transparent – we believe that this is important and expected by customers, e.g. according to the EY study “Future Consumer Index”, Poles pay more and more attention to the environmental impact of the products they buy. As many as 83% of respondents declare that sustainability is important when making their purchasing decisions
The development of values and ethical principles in many organizations may indicate that awareness in this area is growing. Many managers declare that they put ethics at the center of their activities. Is compliance with the principles of fair play in management a guarantee of stable development of the company?
Credibility and ethical action in business means keeping promises. In the case of a company, such a promise is, for example, quality. If a company builds a sense of high quality around its brand, it cannot afford to disappoint its customers. I think that the biggest challenge of the coming years in terms of business credibility will be to keep promises in terms of sustainable development. Particularly important are issues such as sustainable development, business ethics, equal treatment, counteracting corruption, as well as responsible policy towards the country in which we operate. Aspects of the long-term view of business and looking through the prism of functioning in a specific ecosystem and impact on this ecosystem are important to build a competitive economy today. Short-sightedness, sacrificing broader goals for short-term profits will always be inhibiting factors. It is not enough to talk about the environment, society or corporate governance just talk or write nicely on websites – here real, concrete and measurable actions are necessary. Currently, we have a real flood of ecological products, “green” brands and ambitious strategies to reduce the negative impact on the environment. However, as the results of the EY study indicate, for example, – Is Polish business sustainable? – 90% of the surveyed organizations declare that sustainable development is taken into account in the company’s mission, but only 67% of companies ESG activities are taken into account in their daily operations. In a few -, a dozen or so – years the moment of settling accounts with what we have achieved will come. This will be a real test of the credibility of the business. I want to believe that we will pass this test perfectly.
The world needs wise and good leaders who want to have a positive impact on their environment. Was there a moment when you started to look for a deeper meaning in your work, an opportunity to do something good for your communities or country? What has been achieved?
The idea of a responsible, committed and caring business has been close to my heart for a long time. It was one of the criteria for choosing an employer when I decided to start a new stage of my career 10 years ago. It was important for me to have space for such an action. I think that the sense of business is to create broadly understood value for everyone, i.e. for customers, but also for employees and their families and for other interested parties, including shareholders. I have already checked it several times in practice, that the business mission understood in this way, translating into everyday practice inside and outside the organization, brings above-average results and allows you to maintain them in the long run. It’s not always the easiest way, but it always works. This is also the case with VELUX Polska – we are respected for our approach to the market and the environment. The VELUX brand is systematically strengthening in Poland, we are one of the most preferred employers, where people work for a long time and often return after checking themselves on the labor market, and our results are better than the market every year.
Jacek Siwinski The President of VELUX Polska, responsible for planning and implementing the company’s development strategy, sets the directions of communication and assumptions of the corporate social responsibility policy. A graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology, postgraduate management studies at the Warsaw School of Economics, as well as the Executive MBA program at the Warsaw University of Technology Business School. Since the beginning of his career associated with the construction industry.
Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Anastazja Lach