Interview with the Management Board
“WE ARE OF THE FIRM CONVICTION THAT LONG-TERM BUSINESS SUCCESS IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT SUSTAINABLE ACTION.”
FELIX ZIMMERMANN, HEIKO HEGWEIN, DIRK LESSING AND CLAUDE TOMASZEWSKI
ABOUT THE SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY 2020
TAKKT is now a leader in its industry in terms of sustainability. What were the main factors behind this success?
FELIX ZIMMERMANN: Based on our company tradition of using resources carefully, at TAKKT we are of the firm conviction that long-term business success is not possible without sustainable action. For this reason, we began in 2011 to establish sustainability as an integral part of our corporate strategy throughout the Group. With SCORE (Sustainable Corporate Responsibility), we have rooted a Group-wide organizational structure in the entire company that allows us to implement measures across all levels and divisions in day-to-day business and to steer these in a targeted manner.
DIRK LESSING: In my opinion, an important factor in this is that TAKKT, as an active supporter of the Global Compact Initiative of the United Nations, has been committed since early 2012 to responsible corporate management. As part of this, TAKKT has pledged to uphold the 10 universal principles of sustainability pertaining to human rights, work standards, environmental protection and fighting corruption, and to ensure their prevalence. With the last comprehensive Sustainability Report, TAKKT was one of a few German companies to achieve the Global Compact “Advanced Level” status again.
CLAUDE TOMASZEWSKI: Another component is creating transparency of the results and progress we have achieved. We developed clear parameters in 2011 as part of our sustainability strategy. That allowed us to steer our sustainability activities in a targeted manner over time. Our comprehensive sustainability reporting is certainly also an important indicator. Our TAKKT sustainability reports have been in accordance with the guidelines of the internationally recognized standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) since the beginning. With the 2017 sustainability report, we are applying the new GRI standards published in October 2016 for the first time. These new standards replace the previous GRI-G4 standard.
The new TAKKT sustainability strategy is aimed at achieving targets by the end of 2020. How did you develop the new strategy and the new goals?
FELIX ZIMMERMANN: In 2016, TAKKT developed its new sustainability strategy until the end of 2020 as part of a comprehensive dialogue with stakeholders. As part of that, the focus areas that had been defined until the end of 2016 – sourcing, marketing, logistics, resources & climate, employees and society – were confirmed once again by the stakeholders. Goals, concrete measures and projects to be achieved by the end of 2020 were then defined for the individual focus areas.
On which measure of the new sustainability strategy do you want to pay particular attention to?
CLAUDE TOMASZEWSKI: The level of social commitment among our employees, especially those in the US, which has impressed us for years, has led us to consider how we can better support and encourage our employees in this. As a result, we made it our goal to continue to expand the percentage of employees who have the option of taking paid leave to pursue social causes in the entire TAKKT Group in order to better live up to our local social responsibility. It is our sincere hope that a large number of our employees will utilize this opportunity.
DIRK LESSING: Even if this is not a defined goal as part of the TAKKT sustainability strategy, I am particularly proud of the fact that we were able to make our largest European sales company, KAISER+KRAFT Germany, carbon-neutral in early 2018. This makes KAISER+KRAFT Germany the first major B2B direct marketing company for business equipment to have a fully balanced climate record. We intend to continue on the path we are on, to strengthen and maintain our position as a role model in the industry.
HEIKO HEGWEIN: As the Board member responsible for the digital transformation, the topics of technology and innovation are particularly important to me. We are working hard at TAKKT to do so by successively expanding carbon-neutral web shops and also by retaining “digital talents” in the company. For example, the current Project Workspace at the Stuttgart facility is creating a new, modern and more attractive work environment to offer our employees the best-possible working conditions for the long term.
The topic of carbon emissions is big news right now. How is TAKKT positioned in regard to this?
CLAUDE TOMASZEWSKI: We began early on to create ISO 14064-1-certified carbon footprints for our major Group companies to ensure the greatest possible transparency for the carbon emissions along our value chain. We have implemented projects and measures based on these results in order to sustainably reduce the carbon emissions that result from this. This has been done by conversion to LED lighting at our warehouse locations, for example. Carbon emissions can only be reduced to a certain extent, however. This is why we intend to offset our carbon emissions in our focus areas of marketing and logistics, which cause the highest carbon emissions, step-by-step by supporting carefully selected and certified climate protection projects.
Which sustainability challenges is TAKKT currently facing?
FELIX ZIMMERMANN: TAKKT views the possibilities opened up by digitalization as an opportunity to focus more clearly on the needs of its customers and to provide exactly the products and services to fulfill them. We strive to meet our responsibility as a company here as well and are confident that our sustainability strategy is a true competitive advantage. We have increased the effectiveness of customer-oriented marketing by systematically expanding e-commerce business, while also conserving resources by significantly decreasing the amount of paper used. In general, at TAKKT we are of the firm conviction that long-term business success is not possible without sustainable action. We will therefore continue resolutely on our path to make sustainability an integral part of our company strategy.
Thank you for this conversation.