Sustainable success

Sustainability is a core element of the GF business model. Sustainable management and responsible action contribute directly to achieving the company’s business and financial goals. GF offers its customers solutions that support them in producing more efficiently while – at the same time – conserving resources and improving their sustainability footprint.

In order to live up to this role, GF, a global company with operations in markets such as China and India, will focus even stronger on the needs of its customers. This includes a continuous adjustment of the sustainability strategy to changing market conditions. Global compliance with standards and codes is as much a part of the company as the establishing of cross-divisional management systems. All production facilities are certified in accordance with ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series). New locations must become certified within three years. This applies in particular to all newly acquired companies that are to be integrated into the three divisions. Energy-intensive production sites additionally must be certified in accordance with ISO 50001 (Energy Management).

Sustainability objectives

As an international corporation with operations in more than 30 countries, GF strives to embed the issue of sustainability in all its companies. The Executive Committee sets objectives every five years, and these are the central guidelines for implementing the economic, ecological, and social targets in the divisions.

Results 2011–2015

In the strategy cycle 2011–2015, GF not only achieved its financial targets, but also made clear progress in the area of sustainability. For example, the company has halved the number of work-related accidents since 2011, not least as a result of a major safety campaign at GF Automotive. In addition, the proportion of climate-damaging air freight in the supply chain declined significantly during the period. Despite its successes, however, GF has not been able to achieve all of its ambitious self-imposed goals: although both waste and CO2 emissions have been significantly reduced, for instance, the targets were not yet fully achieved. GF is therefore working intensively to further improve in these areas. More detailed information and key figures on 2016 will be published in the summer of 2017.

The topic work safety has the highest priority at GF and is a main topic in the sustainability targets 2020.

In order to raise safety awareness at work, GF Automotive initiated a campaign with exciting activities for all employees.

In order to raise safety awareness at work, GF Automotive initiated a campaign with exciting activities for all employees.

In order to raise safety awareness at work, GF Automotive initiated a campaign with exciting activities for all employees.

At the GF Automotive facility in Singen, an accident clock serves as an additional source of motivation: Every team that remains accident-free for 365 days receives the reward of an internal party.

Focus 2016

In order to benefit from the extensive knowledge and experience of our employees in the area of sustainability, GF boosted its sustainability network in 2016 in line with the Strategy 2020. The sustainability conferences for the DACH region in Schaffhausen and the Asia conference in Shanghai marked a successful start. In addition, most GF companies have drafted action plans that will be put into practice in the coming years.

Procurement and Logistics

For a globally active company, ethical conduct and sustainability must include long-term, trusting supply-chain partnerships, the legally compliant conduct of suppliers as well as environmentally friendly transport solutions.

With regard to procurement, the GF Supplier Code defines and monitors adherence to environmental, social, and compliance standards. In 2016, the majority of suppliers had already signed the Supplier Code. Going forward, supplier audits with a focus on sustainability issues will be conducted.

In the area of logistics, environmentally friendly transport is at the top of the agenda. The systematic reduction of air-freight is an integral part of GF’s sustainability goals. GF Piping Systems, for example, implemented a project to transfer the transport of goods to GF sales companies and customers overseas from air transport to sea transport. As a result of these efforts, the division was able to increase the proportion of sea transport from 56% to more than 70%.

Environment and Energy

Reducing emissions

The biggest environmental challenges of the future include climate change, the finite nature of fossil fuels, and a steep increase in the demand for energy.

GF is making an important contribution in these areas through its efficient production sites worldwide. For example, GF has been able to continually lower its production-related greenhouse gas emissions. In 2013, GF generated about 713ʼ000 tons of CO2 emissions, while in 2015 this number could be reduced to only 592ʼ000 tons. Emissions in 2016 were at a similar level. The detailed key figures for 2016 will be published in mid-2017. This reduction was achieved in part through the use of new, environmentally friendly technologies, as well as by promoting sustainable energy projects and the use of CO2-neutral hydropower.

Energy efficiency

Energy consumption is a major sustainability challenge for a manufacturing company such as GF. All three divisions have already implemented numerous initiatives and projects in this area, such as the use of more energy-efficient production facilities. In 2016, GF was able to maintain a relatively stable level of energy consumption compared to the previous year. By 2020, the company aims to increase energy efficiency at all production sites worldwide by 10%. Specifically, all divisions are called upon to make a contribution to systematically lowering energy consumption through their products, processes, and solutions. The GF Piping Systems location in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, is a best-practice example: through numerous measures, the use of state-of-the-art machines, and more efficient technology, the facility of Georg Fischer Harvel was able to boost its energy efficiency by 22%.

Resource efficiency

In addition to energy, other important resources are also becoming scarcer. Responding to this challenge, GF places a high priority on developing processes for resource-efficient innovation (bionic design, eco-design, life cycle assessment, etc.). Sustainability and resource efficiency issues are taken into account as early as the developmental stage of new products. Even more than before, the divisions take the product’s entire life cycle into consideration, from the selection of raw materials and suppliers to the production and customer’s use of the products to their reuse once their life cycle has expired.

In addition, GF is also emphasizing the reduction of waste in production in order to cut back on the use of resources. The wise consumption of resources plays as important a role as the recycling of industrial waste. GF Automotive, for example, uses around 500ʼ000 tons of recycled material in its foundries annually.

People and Safety

Health and safety in the workplace

In addition to the requirement of OHSAS certification, the “Zero Risk” work safety initiative has given new momentum to job safety at regular intervals. A multi-faceted action plan encourages employees to be more aware of potential risks at the workplace and the importance of safety regulations and measures. With success: in the last few years the accident rate at GF Automotive has dropped. This successful campaign will be continued in 2017. In the other two divisions, occupational health and safety is equally of the highest priority.

Training and development of young talents

Apprenticeships have a long-standing tradition at GF. The broad range of training opportunities includes more than 30 technical and commercial professions. In 2016, GF offered a total of more than 500 training positions worldwide. GF also offers proven career entry routes through thesis projects and internships. In addition, GF collaborates on joint research and development projects with the key universities located in the main markets. The successful Swiss apprenticeship model has now also been expanded to GF locations in the US and China.

Management development and further education

Whether in the Americas, Europe, or Asia – GF attaches great importance to inhouse training and professional development. The range of training opportunities is diverse and tailored to the varying needs of employees. More than 80% of the workforce benefit from internal training every year. On the one hand, there are training activities offered by the Corporation under the umbrella of the GF Academy. These include Corporate trainings on business, finance, and leadership topics as well as strategic initiatives such as training on design thinking – in order to implement a shared innovation culture – and the Value Selling Initiative to strengthen sales skills.

But the activities initiated by the Corporation represent only one part of the GF training portfolio. Most in-house employee trainings take place within the divisions, locally in the various countries. Training programs on topics such as occupational health and safety are just as common as specialist and technical training. The divisions are also responsible for implementing the 7 Habits program to enhance collaborative work and 4DX training to strengthen execution skills. In 2016 GF Piping Systems initiated a global 7 Habits day to foster teamwork with exceptional success.

Pay and social benefits

In 2016, GF generated a net added value of CHF 1.29 billion. More than three quarters of this amount were paid out in the form of salaries to employees. GF operates a modern and transparent remuneration system for employees, which is fair and non-discriminatory. Where appropriate, GF offers a performance-related variable component and allows employees to share in the success of the Corporation. Excellence on the part of individual employees and teams is recognized and additionally rewarded, for example, through the company’s annual Gold Awards.

Anchored in the social environment

True to its fundamental values, GF supports and promotes cultural and social programs at its various locations, as well as activities that contribute to the common good. In 2016, around CHF 2 million were spent at the Corporation level on social involvement activities. In addition to this, some 30 GF corporate subsidiaries support local activities, by making substantial contributions. The biggest contributions in 2016 went to the Corporation-owned Klostergut Paradies Foundation, the Iron Library, and Clean Water.

The Klostergut Paradies Foundation, that includes the cultural heritage site of a former Clarissan convent, houses not only important collections, but also serves as a training and meeting center for the Company. The Iron Library Foundation has the largest private collection of books on the subject of iron. Together with the Group archive, it is the center of competence for maintaining the Group’s historical and cultural heritage.

Through its Clean Water Foundation, GF has been supporting a total of 135 drinking water projects worldwide since 2002. To date, the Corporation has invested nearly CHF 9 million and has improved the lives of almost 300ʼ000 people with a sustainably improved access to clean drinking water.

At the end of 2015, GF renewed its existing partnership with Caritas Switzerland, which has been in place since 2012, for another four years, and donated again CHF 1 million to Caritas to help implement the aid organization’s clean water projects. Within the scope of the partnership, GF also provides know-how and technical expertise. In 2016, six new projects were started in cooperation with Caritas Switzerland, including in Bangladesh and Ecuador.

The GF Training Center is located in Klostergut Paradies (Switzerland).

The Iron Library Foundation has the largest private collection of books on the subject of iron.

Clean Water Foundation: in collaboration with the organisation SWISSAID, existing drinking water systems were renewed and expanded, benefiting a total of 2'500 local inhabitants.


GF’s good position in the annual climate protection ranking of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is another indication that the Corporation’s sustainability efforts are going into the right direction. In 2016, GF once again received an award as sector leader in the area of “industry”, placing it as one of the 20 best industrial companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In addition, GF is again represented in the Ethibel Sustainability Index (ESI) Excellence Europe, which the independent Belgian agency Ethibel publishes every year.

A two-way dialogue is a successful component of communication for GF. This is confirmed by the high quality of the internal magazine “Globe”, which was named the best employee magazine in Switzerland in 2016 for the third year in a row.

In addition, several high rankings reflect the fact that GF is an attractive place to work for talents. Not only is GF leading the category “industry” in the Best Recruiter study, the company was also able to move up from tenth to seventh place in the overall ranking of 506 Swiss companies. In the survey conducted by the consulting firm Universum, GF was once again among the 100 most popular employers in Switzerland.

Products and Innovation

GF attaches high importance to collaborating closely with its customers. The focus areas are product development and innovation as well as the achievement of sustainability benefits. In this sense, along with quality, GF has strategically anchored energy efficiency as well as climate and environmental protection as main elements of product development across all divisions. This was recognized in 2016 with the awarding of the innovation prize of the German foundry industry, which, among other factors, praised the production of GF Automotive as particularly innovative.

The goal of transforming GF from a pure product and system provider to an integrated solution provider is firmly anchored in the 2020 strategy. The idea is to support customers in the most meaningful way over the entire life cycle of a product.

The awards that GF received in 2016 are a confirmation of the success of this strategy. GF Automotive, for example, was recognized at the EUROGUSS trade fair for the outstanding design and resource efficiency of its battery housing for electric cars, while GF Machining Solutions was awarded the innovation prize of the Canton of Geneva for its future-oriented laser technology.