GF operations and solutions affect its stakeholders in different ways. For the company, engaging with its stakeholders and working with them on important issues lies at the heart of its way of doing business.
When it comes to reviewing its progress against its own goals, being transparent with internal and external stakeholders enables the company to remain accountable. Such engagements help shape corporate policies and commitments, target sustainability investments as well as strengthen relationships with stakeholders.
In November 2022, the company launched its new intranet platform "We@GF", strengthening employees' interactions and improving the way the company communicates with employees globally. The associated smart app has the potential to engage more employees, so employees without a PC can use it to access content on the platform.
Championed by Corporate Sustainability and its divisional counterparts, sustainability is an integral part of GF's business. Corporate Sustainability worked with the divisional teams to organize employee workshops on topics ranging from science-based targets to diversity and inclusion, as well as a global internal sustainability conference planned for 2023.
In November, the company launched the GF Susty Fund with the aim of engaging with employees and enabling them to leave a positive sustainability footprint. The fund provides financial support for employees' sustainability project ideas in areas such as introducing biodiversity measures for a site or its surroundings, raising sustainability awareness, offering sustainability training within the company, providing support to start-ups or science projects linked to environmental benefits, or for community projects with clear social or environmental benefits.
At the divisional level, GF Piping Systems' Mystery Coffee, a networking initiative, gave employees the opportunity to sign up to a platform where they could meet with one another for a virtual exchange after being randomly matched. To date, some 1’000 employees have participated in such exchanges, fostering and improving cross-departmental and cross-country relations.
Also in 2022, as part of its continuous improvement process (CIP), GF Casting Solutions launched its "CIP Meets Sustainability" program, showcasing ideas from employees to further embed sustainability into day-to-day operations. Key areas covered were sustainable products, climate protection and resource conservation.
In September 2022, GF Machining Solutions introduced a "Success Reward" to celebrate and recognize actions by outstanding employees or teams who embrace the new GF values and help achieve the division's Strategy 2025. In particular, recognition will go to employees showing a positive attitude in their work, a commitment to quality and a willingness to take initiative for the good of the community.
Lastly, in March 2022, women employees in China organized a series of activities to celebrate International Women's Day.
GF’s products and solutions address the needs of its customers while enabling them to become more sustainable. In 2022, GF Piping Systems launched its "Connections for life" campaign, which focuses on some of today's most pressing sustainability issues, for example, overcoming water loss, improving energy efficiency, ensuring clean water, improving water quality and providing operational safety. The campaign brings to life how solutions such as process automation or cooling systems provide opportunities to improve efficiency, lower a company’s carbon footprint and save precious resources, such as water.
At Euroguss 2022, Europe's largest die-casting trade fair, GF Casting Solutions showcased how it is developing sustainable and innovative solutions to address the challenges of mobility in the future. The division is already making vehicle components lighter, integrating more functions and shortening time-to-market.
The GF Machining Solutions Academy serves as a unique platform for engaging with the division's customers. The academy delivers bespoke training for customers' technicians, thus providing knowledge transfer and enabling customers to realize the full potential of the division's solutions throughout their life cycle.
GF Machining Solutions took part in key international trade shows during 2022, with September marking an exceptional period of customer engagement. This includes events such as the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, IL (US), the AMB International Exhibition for Metal Working in Stuttgart (Germany) and Micronora in Besançon (France).
GF participated in a total of 20 roadshows and investor conferences, meeting with investors and analysts, throughout the year. Sustainability remained a key topic, reflecting the growing importance of sustainability for investors and analysts, especially in areas such as sustainable finance and regulatory compliance.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Chairwoman of the Compensation Committee and the Head of Investor Relations held about 20 dedicated meetings on sustainability and governance during ESG roadshows with the investor stewardship and sustainability teams of institutional investors and leading proxy advisors.
In September 2022, the company hosted its sixth Capital Markets Day, which is held once every three years. In line with the Strategy 2025, the event focused on innovation and sustainability. Over 60 analysts and journalists attended this event, and expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to discuss new technologies, applications and manufacturing methods directly with the members of the Executive Committee, senior management and experts.
During the event, a presentation on the Sustainability Framework 2025 and targets provided insights into how the divisions are bringing social or environmental benefits to the market with their products. These benefits include:
- mitigating water loss at a time of rapidly increasing water scarcity;
- empowering sustainable mobility with new technologies; and
- developing technologies for factories of the future.
Building and maintaining trusting, long-term relationships with sourcing and logistics partners is vital to GF's strategic business success. In addition to focusing on its own sustainability impact, the company also supports its suppliers on their sustainability journey. Through onboarding, reviews and assessments, the company works closely with its suppliers and business partners to identify, measure and reduce their sustainability impacts. The company provided webinars and training materials to its suppliers as part of its ongoing efforts to foster a sustainability-oriented supplier ecosystem.
Universities and research institutes
This year's Capital Markets Day also inspired the more than 50 university students who attended a dedicated afternoon session that included a Q&A session with GF’s Executive Committee. The students, who highly appreciated the open interaction, took a strong interest in the company's sustainability framework and progress towards its targets.
GF has now joined UNITECH, which enables it to recruit top graduates from leading technical universities in Europe. Founded in 2000, this pan-European network brings together the academic and corporate worlds to develop talented young engineers and enable them to successfully manage future challenges in global industry.
Regulators and industry associations
Operating across over 30 countries, GF complies with all applicable laws and regulations. As a member of the Conference Board, a global non-profit business membership organization and research group, the company engages with many councils and working groups. Throughout the year, the company continued to engage with the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Council, which focuses on sustainability topics. These include the need to shift from reporting on activity to reporting on impact, the circular economy, support for and alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and stakeholder communication.
As a member of Swissmem, the association for the Swiss technology industry, GF hosted the association's first in-person meeting. Company representatives shared its approach to sustainability reporting and listened to the successes and challenges that others face in this area.
Communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
GF supports and promotes cultural and social programs in many communities, and aspires to enrich lives and create a positive impact. The company also cooperates with many NGOs within the framework of its corporate citizenship programs, which focus on improving access to drinking water and education.
Employees at the GF Piping Systems facility in Irvine, CA (US) organized their eighth Walk4Water, raising USD 150’000 for the Water Mission's water-related projects. In Germany, the division's staff took part in "Christmas in a shoe box" for the third consecutive year. The charity program offers boxes packed with socks, hats, scarves, toys and Christmas treats for children and families in need, primarily in eastern Europe.
Media and the general public
GF regularly publishes media releases, full and mid-year financial results, as well as information on the development of new markets, product innovations and acquisitions. The company also regularly invites journalists to events.
The publication of the GF Sustainability Report 2021 inspired the Schaffhauser Nachrichten, a local newspaper, to publish a comprehensive report on corporate sustainability reporting. The article also shone a spotlight on GF's reporting approach, notably the evolution from its first environmental report 25 years ago to its sustainability report today.
On social media, GF grew its presence by 20% on LinkedIn, with over 70’000 followers in 2022 (58’000 in 2021). It enjoyed stable growth on other channels (such as Twitter, YouTube and Xing) and built its presence on Instagram.