2021 was similar to the coronavirus year 2020 in many ways. The trains, airports, and offices where we do our jobs were sometimes eerily empty. Many of our customers needed to scale up and down and keep pace with the changing measures. At the same time, the demand for our services from the healthcare sector was high and we were able to benefit from the extra attention to hygiene. It was yet another VUCA year: Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. A year full of uncertainties, with threats as well as opportunities.
We are proud of having achieved a robust result with good financial figures in such a year. We are also impressed by the flexibility with which our companies have anticipated and responded to the sometimes rapidly changing circumstances. It reinforces our belief that we must nurture entrepreneurship within our businesses, including the space for making decisions that goes with it.
Strategy continued, hectas acquisition
In 2021, despite the uncertainty, we chose to continue to pursue the strategy that had previously been initiated. We have continued the development of Designing our Future, our 2020 design, with which we are heading towards our goal of eleven large companies in four countries. An important step in this was the acquisition in 2021 of hectas Facility Services. This acquisition, the largest in our company’s history, was completed in early 2022. We have been looking for a suitable party in Germany to strengthen our position as a facility service provider for years. During the acquisition, we looked closely at the connection with standards and values, as well as the cultural fit.
Executive Board: new role deepened, on the path to greater diversity
The Executive Board experienced its first year in a different role and composition. With Ton Goedmakers as Vebego’s new CEO, in 2021 the Board further fulfilled its role as strategic architect of Vebego and established the corresponding tasks and responsibilities. In addition to Giuseppe Santagada and Mark van Haasteren joining, both as COO, in 2021 it was decided in proper consultation to find new people for the positions of CFO and CHRO. This change will be directly used to create more diversity at board level, so that this area of Vebego too will be able to accurately reflect our society.
Our impact: meaningful work
Vebego wants to take the lead as an inclusive employer. We want to make an impact by creating meaningful jobs in which everyone is able to take part, including people with a distance from the labour market and people with a migration background.
In 2021, we chose Great Place To Work as (GPTW) a way to continue systematically working towards good employership. In addition to employee satisfaction and engagement, the methodology measures the level of diversity and inclusion. The aim is that, following in the footsteps of Vebego in Switzerland, all of our companies will ultimately earn the GPTW certificate.
Increased awareness for social return
Not only do we want to make an impact on people, the environment and society, we want to be able to measure this impact effectively. We sought collaboration for this purpose with the Impact Institute in 2020. In cooperation with them, we are going to express the creation of meaningful work and active contribution to a circular economy in hard figures. This is the start of a larger movement, in which we learn to – literally and figuratively – better value the social return of business activities such as ours, both within and outside of Vebego.
Diversity & sustainability
In order to be future fit, Vebego operates in an inclusive and sustainable manner. Vebego has been a pioneer in the area of impact: in 2021 we sharpened our impact strategy, with a focus on SDG 8 (honest work and economic growth) and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). In addition to our efforts in the area of meaningful work, we dedicated ourselves to diversity in the workplace in 2021. Vebego organised a webinar on the topic of inclusion for Diversity Day, and we also signed the Diversity Charter. Vebego has a high level of diversity in terms of gender (71% women), age and background, but this is markedly lower among management levels. That’s something that we are going to improve: more women deserve a place in managerial positions.
Our companies are going to report their sustainability results according to the approach of the Global Reporting Initiative. Alongside nine other Dutch companies, in 2021 we announced our commitment to supporting the objectives of the Science Based Targets initiative. At Vebego, we are actually going to go one step further: we want to work in a fully CO2 neutral way by 2030. To this end, the CO2 neutral project was initiated in 2021. As part of this, in the Netherlands we are moving towards having a completely fossil-free fleet based on electric vehicles in 2025. 2021 was also the year that we reached the target of producing 100 million litres of clean drinking water together with Made Blue.
Meaningful work, sustainability and diversity are long-term endeavours. But sometimes immediate action is needed, as it was during the floods in Limburg, Germany and Belgium in the summer of 2021. Our companies and their employees rolled up their sleeves and helped to make homes liveable again, making use of materials that we provided for that purpose, among other things.
Appreciation for services
In redesigning our company, we have drawn up preconditions to create more added value for customers and to make sure we excel in our services with innovative concepts. In 2021, we received recognition for our services in various areas, in the form of certificates and awards such as the Green Park Award, the Golden Service Award and the Best Practice Award. We can also see this appreciation in the higher scores for our companies in the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Further change in 2022
Over the coming years, the organisational designs and the strategic plans made in 2021 will take on more shape and substance. In 2022, we will again invest a great deal of time, money and energy into organisational changes and the IT investments involved, which we believe will allow us to benefit from the strength of the collective that Vebego is. A large family business with its own distinctive story, as evidenced by the fact that we were awarded the Family Businesses Award 2022, and a mission shared by everyone. An attractive employer, which is a great thing to be in the currently very tight labour market. An organisation with a lot of expertise across the companies, with plenty of opportunities to exchange knowledge and to work together to create innovations, for employees, customers, the environment and society. This year we will also being making the preparations for the celebration of our 80th anniversary in 2023.
We want to thank all of our employees for their meaningful work in 2021, and all of our customers for their trust and appreciation over the past year.
Ton Goedmakers, CEO