Sustainability Is a Challenge for the Industry
VINCORION awarded Silver Medal for Environment, Social Affairs, Ethics, and Procurement
And the Silver Medal goes to VINCORION – the technology company from Wedel, near Hamburg, Germany, was recognized by consulting firm EcoVadis for its sustainable corporate management efforts. The EcoVadis “Sustainabilty Rating” looked at companies’ activities in the areas of the environment, labor and human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement. VINCORION came in at the 74th percentile and received the “Silver Medal,” scoring better than or equal to 74 percent of the companies evaluated by EcoVadis.
EU Requirements Call for Sustainability Reports
The Paris-based certification company operates as an independent sustainability assessment firm. This involves evaluating companies’ efforts in fields such as sustainability and corporate social responsibility. “Sustainability is one of our top priorities. In the process, we were immediately able to win a silver medal” says a delighted Dr. Stefan Stenzel, VINCORION’s managing director. “This is an amazing achievement built on the hard work and dedication of many of our employees.”
Stenzel went on to explain that sustainable business practices are, of course, an extremely important issue for society as a whole, since climate change affects everyone. Current EU legislation is also gradually obligating companies to enshrine sustainable goals in their corporate governance. The issue is a topic of discussion at many companies, including industrial firms, as Stefan Stenzel reports.
The EU currently requires stock corporations to prepare a sustainability report. But beginning next year, this obligation will apply to companies with more than 3,000 employees, and beginning in 2024, to companies with more than 1,000 employees. Afterward, presumably starting in 2025, larger SMEs will be required to prepare a sustainability report. These reports will also need to be independently certified, for example by auditors.
“Positioning themselves properly in this respect is a challenge for medium-sized industrial companies. We tried to get an early start on this because many customers now also ask for sustainability ratings,” notes Stenzel. This is because the larger companies, for their part, are obligated to evaluate the sustainability of their suppliers.
What Sustainability Is All About
This highlights the complexity of the issue of sustainability at companies, including in the defense industry. “CSR stands for corporate social responsibility, which is all about how socially responsible a company is,” says Astrid Biesterfeldt, Director Corporate Development at VINCORION.
The abbreviation ESG stands for environment, social, and governance. This involves assessing a company’s social environment, such as its corporate culture. Governance refers to whether a company is managed correctly, such as adhering to compliance regulations. “The abbreviation for these three areas together is ESG,” summarizes Biesterfeldt.
Incidentally, this isn’t just about the climate, but also about social issues: “Both areas are covered,” explains Biesterfeldt. “When it comes to social issues, fair working conditions play an important role, such as collective bargaining agreements, training and development opportunities, and flexible working hours. Occupational health and safety is also important.”
VINCORION’s Strengths Range from the Environment to Social Issues
According to the EcoVadis ranking, VINCORION’s strengths in the area of the environment include, for example, the safe disposal of hazardous materials, the reduction of internal waste through, for example, recycling, the purification of wastewater, and that the company procures power from renewable sources, to name just a few points. In the social category, flexible work schedules were particularly emphasized, for example through the use of flexitime and the ability to work from home. Preventive health care, regular employee training, and a transparent recruiting process were also counted among the company’s strengths.
When it comes to ethics, the assessment lists information security risk assessments as a positive, as well as third-party anti-corruption due diligence and specific approval procedures for sensitive transactions, such as gifts and travel. Finally, the company has a sustainability code of conduct for suppliers in place and regularly conducts supplier assessments covering environmental and social practices.
But the company can also open up new opportunities if it focuses even more on sustainability. “If we further intensify our activities around social issues, we’ll make the company even more attractive to employees and applicants,” explains Biesterfeldt. “And with strong sustainability ratings, we are also more attractive to customers because they also have an obligation to pay attention to ESG criteria in the supply chain. Customers are already starting to do this.”
Biesterfeldt advises SMEs not to underestimate the organizational effort involved. “Collecting all the data is quite a task.” The proof always comes in the form of a certificate, a process description, or key figures from the systems. “A note on this is not enough. Documents must clearly demonstrate that the company is addressing the issues of the environment, human and labor rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement. There’s a lot of extra work involved the first time around.” VINCORION, for example, is currently conducting a survey among employees about the means of transportation they use to get to work. The results from the three VINCORION sites in Germany can then be incorporated into future assessments.
The company also wants to get its employees even more involved in the future. In a company video, Biesterfeldt explains why sustainability is so important. “Anyone and everyone can contribute, whether by submitting suggestions or their own behavior at the workplace,” she emphasizes.
The Goal Is to Improve Every Year
VINCORION now wants to make improvements year after year. “You also have to venture into new areas if you want to continually strengthen the company’s sustainability efforts.” For example, the company could review its internal policies. All those responsible are members of a CSR Board, which meets on a regular basis to discuss the suggestions for improvement.
“We addressed the issue with our experts as a team,” summarizes Biesterfeldt for VINCORION. “That worked out great. The certification is now valid for a year and then in a year at the next assessment, we’ll know what’s coming.”
EcoVadis uses 21 sustainability criteria to examine how responsibly companies operate in the areas of the environment, labor and human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement. More than 90,000 companies from 200 industries in 160 countries worldwide cooperate with EcoVadis.
A current overview of our company is available on our website at https://www.vincorion.com/en/unternehmensportrait/.
VINCORION Advanced Systems GmbH
22880 Wedel, Germany
Phone: +49 4103 60-2250