"Sustainability in the focus of the company strategy"
Deutsche Post DHL released its Corporate Responsibility Report 2009/2010 on April 26. The company's CEO, Frank Appel, examines the achievements of the Group's far-reaching sustainability strategy in the following interview.
CEO Frank Appel: "The individual commitment of our many employees makes me very proud"
Mr. Appel, what do you think of the Corporate Responsibility Report 2010?
Frank Appel: The Corporate Responsibility Report 2010 is proof of one fact: The success of sustainable business practices is measured not in words, but in deeds. The report is filled with a kaleidoscope of activities, and examines the multi-layered approach being used to implement our strategy and the programs related to it. We are constantly moving closer to our goals in the areas of the environment, social commitment and responsibility.
You made corporate responsibility an integral component of your Strategy 2015. Why?
We are the largest logistics company and are one of the world's biggest employers. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility. It is an opportunity to be a successful company and to become the first choice of employees, customers and investors. But it is also a responsibility to observe everything that is happening around us. To us, sustainability means this: On the one hand, planning and doing business in a responsible way. On the other hand, assuming corporate responsibility and acting in a corresponding manner. This is the only way to become the first choice and to also achieve business success.
How do you combine business with responsibility?
There are many examples of this. Let me just mention our GoGreen environmental-protection program: By 2020, we intend to improve our CO2 efficiency by 30% compared with the level of 2007. In working to achieve this goal, we managed to improve our CO2 efficiency by three points in 2009 compared with 2008.
Such strides can be made only if we do a lot ourselves. But we also need the commitment of our customers and subcontractors. Old airplanes, for instance, are being gradually replaced by new, energy-efficient models. In our ground-based fleet, we are using improved route-planning systems and are providing our employees with driver training. We offer our GoGreen services in nearly 30 countries, and customers are using them. As a result, we were able to offset the CO2 emissions of more than 700 million shipments through the work of environmental-protection projects in 2009. The Corporate Responsibility Report contains many other examples.
Frank Appel accepting the German Sustainablity Award 2009.
We are not just talking about environmental protection. Can you cite a few other examples?
Of course, environmental protection is not the only focal point. For this reason, we are directing our sustainability strategy of "Living Responsibility" at three areas: the environment, disaster relief and education. Our Disaster Response Teams once again performed several missions, and we have joined the UNDP in launching a critically important prevention project called "Get Airports Ready for Disaster." And our partnership with Teach First Germany is paying its first dividends. I would like to stress that the sole reason that all of our programs work is the effort made by our employees. And we can have a sustainable impact only with their support.
In your Strategy 2015, you underscore the values of "respect and results" - is that part of your employee strategy?
Definitely. We conduct an annual employee survey that asks very detailed questions about the morale, perspectives and opinions in our Group. Last year, about 370,000 colleagues took part. On the basis of this feedback, we develop programs designed to provide answers to colleagues' concerns. The People Strategy makes the application of respect and results a high priority, that is, it focuses on how managers interact with their employees and how we can actively develop career paths for talented employees.
What are you especially proud of when you read the Corporate Responsibility Report?
I am proud how swiftly we were able to sent our Disaster Response Teams into the disaster hit areas of Haiti and Chile, where the teams provided professional and valuable help. In addition, our cooperation with Teach First Germany passed a very successful first year and will continue to grow. Furthermore I am very satisfied, that we made good progress in the environmental area - this is important for our planet, for us as a company and, in the end, for our customers who will attach great importance to sustainable, responsible actions in the future.
And finally, it is very nice to see that our sustainable engagement also receives international appreciation: Last year we have been awarded with the German Sustainability Award in recognition of our sustainable strategy and the United Nations Office acknowledged our sustainable reporting in a personal letter as "notable" - this kind of recognition of the work of the many Deutsche Post DHL employees and their individual commitment makes me feel very proud.