Looking back on 2016, the growth and success we’ve seen across our businesses directly reflects our commitment to next-level innovation as well as being a company that does well by doing good. It was a year of milestones. We’ve partnered with new customers, strengthened existing relationships and positioned Siemens as a continued leader in the next generation of digitalization, automation, and electrification. Over the next few days, we’ll feature some of the highlights in this series. To see more of Siemens’ Best of 2016, sign up for our blog and follow us @SiemensUSA.
When Fortune Magazine issued its second annual Change the World list, the editors put forward a clear message:
Business has a larger social responsibility than increasing profits. To thrive in the 21st century, companies need to restore public trust by addressing some of society’s toughest challenges as part of their core business strategies.
Fortune ranked us at #21 on the list! But we are not only proud. We also completely agree with Fortune’s description of the role of business in society.
Our founder, Werner von Siemens, was ahead of his time in embracing corporate responsibility to help retain a loyal, skilled workforce. His many innovations, as it turns out, included a company pension system that pre-dated Germany’s national version. He also was ahead of his time in supporting employee profit sharing.
Fast forward to today, to Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, who frequently says:companies that fail to add value for society shouldn’t exist.
Fortune was particularly impressed that we’ve joined the global fight against climate change. Citizens all over the world are increasingly concerned about the health of our planet. Here in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of American adults now say they’re worried about global warming.
So, late last year, we made an announcement: Siemens is now aiming to become one of the first major industrial companies in the world to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint.
How will we do this?
Two ways: by dramatically reducing carbon emissions within the company and by supporting others projects outside Siemens that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Within Siemens we’re going system by system, lowering emissions from our facilities, vehicles, and energy usage.
We have a lot of work ahead of us. With global operations, including roughly 300 large manufacturing plants worldwide, we’re now looking at how to erase 2.2 million metric tons of carbon output a year (roughly what’s generated by Washington, D.C.). As the Fortune editors themselves said: “For a company that uses power to make very big things (not just to keep the office lights on), that’s no small feat.”
But in addition to having two approaches, we also have two key advantages.
First, our works builds off successful pilot efforts that helped reduce our carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2010 to 2014. (We also helped our customers reduce their emissions by 480 million tons.)
At our rail plant in Sacramento we installed solar panels that generate more than half of the plant’s energy needs. In Charlotte, we built a certified manufacturing facility to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards to cut both costs and emissions during construction and operation. We’re looking forward to scaling up these kinds of activities.
Second, we’re excited to prove that becoming more energy efficient can actually be profitable. We’re kicking things off with a $110 million investment in efficiency measures. We believe this investment will actually pay for itself within five years with at least $20 million in annual savings.
We knew in the beginning that this was a pretty powerful idea, but receiving this recognition from Fortune was its own powerful validation that we’re on the right track. And not just by going carbon-neutral, but through a lot of the other social challenges we’ve been addressing, as well.
We’re doing the right thing by providing jobs that help veterans transition back into civilian life – and gaining access to great workers. We’re acting as a role model for rebuilding the middle class by starting and promoting apprenticeship programs – and making sure we’ll have a pipeline of skilled workers. We’re pioneering smarter infrastructure to make mobility safer – and driving long-term growth.
Siemens is excited to receive this honor. We will continue looking for even more ways we can do well for both business and society.