Sustainability at GF
In an increasingly complex and uncertain world, it is becoming more critical for companies to focus on broad stakeholder value to achieve business success. Therefore, it is the aim of GF to ensure that its business positively contributes to society’s progress toward being future-fit.
GF regards ethical business conduct, resource-efficient and environmentally friendly production, eco-design in products and solutions, as well as respect for its employees and all other GF stakeholders as part of the Corporation’s responsibility in society.
GF maintains a continuous dialogue with its internal and external stakeholders, enabling key issues to be proactively recognized and addressed. This exchange is promoted through a wide range of activities and measures.
At the end of 2019, GF proudly employed 14’678 people at locations in 33 countries around the world.
GF is in regular contact with its investors via roadshows, events, meetings (including the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of the Corporation), or through active participation in annual assessments of the company by sustainability analysts.
Lasting customer loyalty is built by GF’s product and solutions specialists maintaining ongoing contact with customers and by GF taking part in a variety of trade fairs, organizing in-house events, as well as customized training sessions for GF’s customers.
In addition, targeted workshops on sustainability are held with customers from key market segments in order to jointly develop future-oriented products, solutions, and services.
Long-term successful partnerships with GF’s procurement and logistics partners are essential for the continuity of the business. Ensuring that they represent and follow the standards that GF applies to itself is of the highest importance to GF.
GF also sees suppliers as crucial collaboration partners to ensure increased environmental efficiency of GF’s own operations (e.g. in the case of production equipment) as well as reducing possible social or environmental risks for GF’s value chain.
Universities and research institutes
GF maintains close contact with universities and research institutes. Cooperation takes place on a number of levels, both in specific projects and in the provision by GF of internship and diploma work opportunities to students of technical colleges and universities.
For GF as an international company, it is crucial to stay abreast of and follow the relevant rules and regulations of each country in which it operates. To facilitate this, GF is a member of a number of chambers of commerce.
GF supports and promotes cultural and social programs at its various locations, as well as aims to create an overall positive impact on the local communities where it operates.
Media and general public
Industry associations and NGOs
As an international company with Swiss roots, GF cultivates an ongoing exchange with international and national associations and organizations. From Swiss trade associations to organizations active on the international level to global networks such as the UN Global Compact – GF is involved in many ways.
GF is committed to sustainable corporate development. The Corporation takes economic, ecological, and social responsibility for its activities at all levels. To focus the necessary efforts, GF conducts a periodic materiality assessment of topics within the area of its influence to identify those that carry highest relevance for GF and its key stakeholders. Based on this process, GF puts in place measures necessary to continuously advance its standing on these topics.
Sustainability program management
Responsibility for continuous integration of sustainability aspects into the daily operations of GF lie with each department and division. The topic is coordinated at the Corporate level by the Corporate Sustainability unit1 in close contact with the dedicated sustainability teams within the three divisions to ensure tracking of the progress of individual locations, business units, and divisions towards achieving the set targets.
Evaluation of sustainability risks, including possible climate-related exposure, forms part of GF's Risk Enterprise Process, with assessment by the business units conducted on a half-annual basis.
The Executive Committee bears the ultimate responsibility for the topic of sustainability and for ensuring that the defined targets are met with progress discussed every six months. The annual performance objectives of the Executive Committee Members include at least one related to sustainability. The specific points match and support the strategic efforts of each division and are being cascaded into the organization.
Specific sustainability-relevant measures that the Corporation and its three divisions are currently working on are based on the set of Sustainability Targets 2020 defined in 2015 along the entire value chain of GF. These targets are closely linked with GF’s Strategy 2020, and the respective activities contribute to the key strategic thrusts of the Corporation. Being now almost at the end of the current 5-year strategy period, GF could show progress on all of the set sustainability goals. Detailed information will be published at mid-year in the Sustainability Report 2019.
Value chain of GF at a glance
GF brings sustainability to its customers
In GF’s core business, sustainability efforts are directly linked to the Corporation’s understanding of its purpose – to add value to and improve the quality of lives through all of GF’s business endeavors. Thus, GF aims to ensure that the components or full-system solutions that it designs and produces address the megatrends facing today’s society, contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and provide best value-added from both quality, safety, and sustainability angles for the customers of its divisions.
For GF Piping Systems, sustainability means, amongst others, leak-free and safe delivery of water, gas, and chemicals to the utility sector, energy-efficient process water solutions for industrial applications, as well as hygienic water for private homes and commercial buildings. As one of the many projects implemented in 2019, GF Piping Systems could win a contract to install 760 km of water pipes in Brazil to help the local municipality to reduce water loss in the network – expected annual savings of 75 billion liters of water.
For GF Casting Solutions, considerations for sustainability in its product portfolio mean developing the solutions for the future of mobility, both in automotive and aerospace segments. The core expertise of the division is in applying innovative design solutions and production technologies to create components with weight reduction of up to over 50%2 – thus helping its customers to reduce fuel consumption and respective CO2-emissions during the vehicle’s usage.
For GF Machining Solutions, sustainability means providing customers with modern, high-precision machines and solutions that significantly improve the energy efficiency of product manufacturing, and offering new technologies. An example thereof is the production of nozzles for gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines – high-precision parts manufactured on GF’s Microlution machines. The nozzles produced using the Femto Laser technology, enable savings of over 15% of gasoline during vehicle usage and assure compliance to ever-tighter car emission regulations.
Communication about Sustainability at GF
As a fundamental step to further anchor the topic into daily activities of GF, the internal policy on sustainability management at GF was brought up-to-date and published in the summer of 2019. A variety of channels were added for communication to and with the GF employees on the topic of sustainability – through a global quarterly sustainability newsletter, in-person thematic events, and an online collaboration group. In the fall of this year, continuing an annual tradition, GF conducted a regional sustainability conference, bringing together over 30 environmental and Health & Safety specialists from GF’s Asian locations.
Planning for the future
Preparing for the new business strategy cycle, a project was launched in the summer of 2019 to define the sustainability framework for the years 2021–2025 and a longer-term ambition level (2030+) on sustainability. Dialogue with GF’s key stakeholder groups formed part of this process, and input of customers and suppliers of the three divisions, as well as of GF’s investors and employees was collected in a series of interviews.
Anchored in the social environment
In accordance with 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 2019, around CHF 2 million were spent at the Corporation level on social involvement activities. The biggest contributions in 2019 went to the Corporation-owned foundations Klostergut Paradies, Iron Library, and Clean Water. In addition to this, several GF companies supported local activities by making substantial contributions.
GF is a member of various Swiss and international business associations with annual membership fees in the amount of less than CHF 0.1 million. In the year under review, no contributions were made to any political parties or to individual politicians.
70 years of the Iron Library Foundation
The Iron Library in Schlatt (Switzerland) is owned by GF since 1918. The Iron Library Foundation was established in December 1948. Today, GF proudly owns one of the world’s largest private collections of books on the subject of iron and industrialization. In 2019, the Foundation celebrated its 70th birthday with a special exhibition “From Convent to Cloud” and further activities.
Improved access to clean drinking water
Through its Clean Water Foundation, GF has supported a total of 151 drinking water projects worldwide since 2002. To date, GF has invested more than CHF 10 million and has improved the lives of more than 300’000 people with better access to safe drinking water. In the context of this Corporate commitment, more than 1’000 GF employees and business partners in four countries took part in the GF “Walk for Water” at the end of September 2019. The event attracted donations of CHF 350’000. GF rounded up this amount to CHF 500’000 and donated it to the non-profit organization “Water Mission” in Charleston (USA), a trusted partner of GF’s Foundation for the past 10 years. The funds mainly support selected clean water projects in Indonesia and Malawi.