The world is changing extremely rapidly. Climate change is becoming real, and the shortages of labour and raw materials are having consequences for many industries. Sustainable and responsible business with concern for people, society and the environment is the new standard. Many companies are setting ambitious goals in this area, with the goal of accelerating the transition towards a circular and inclusive economy. This transition is needed in order to remain future-proof and relevant and is being further fuelled by ambitious legislation. The EU Green Deal, for example, will have consequences for all major EU companies, and therefore also for Vebego.
Inclusive and circular business practices
Our core activities are almost entirely related to the social domain. The knowledge, people and resources we put to use in this area is what enables us to make the most impact. We are also taking our responsibility towards combating climate change and the consequences it has by addressing the environmental effects of our operations. Inclusive and circular business practices are the standard for Vebego. We do this by creating meaningful work for our employees and contributing towards building a better world at the same time. With regard to the latter, we also want to support external stakeholders in making sustainable choices in favour of the planet.
Refining the strategy
In 2021, Vebego refined and redefined its impact strategy for the 2022-2025 period. The strategy is implemented by Vebego across all business units. The impact organisation will be given further shape. For all objectives, we are formulating an action plan and setting up processes and systems. The internal step-by-step plan titled “Fit for the future” has been formulated for this purpose: the plan consists of four steps, presented clearly below. The “Governance” step states that achieving non-financial KPIs will not be voluntary at Vebego. The result will count towards the management bonus from 1 January 2023.
Choosing focus: investing in SDG 8 and SDG 12
The United Nations (UN) has established seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) for 2030. Altogether they make up the global sustainability agenda that, across different dimensions, provides direction for an approach to making the world a better place. In 2021, Vebego definitively chose to use these SDGs as a guideline and refined its own impact strategy on the basis of these goals. We are going to focus on supporting two specific SDGs that will allow us to optimise our returns in terms of people, environment and society.
As our primary goal, we chose SDG 8: decent work and economic growth. We create meaningful jobs by empowering vulnerable people and reducing cultural differences and income inequality. This contributes to the quality of our services, the loyalty of our employees, and their happiness and health. We want to establish a more inclusive corporate culture where everyone feels valued and comfortable.
In 2030, people with a distance to the labour market will make up 30% of the workforce. We still need to establish a definition for this at group level so that this concept is the same for all countries, and a measuring instrument must also be set up.
In Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), our focus will be directed towards increasing diversity, particularly gender and ethnic diversity, at management and board level (i.e. vertically), as was officially confirmed through the signing of the Diversity Charter. Midway through 2022 we will begin to carry out a scan of the organisation, using GPTW as a tool for the measurements.
In addition to this, we are actively contributing to SDG 12, responsible consumption and production, to protect the planet and meet the demands of our customers. We take our responsibility in combating climate change and its consequences. By 2030, we want to be CO2 neutral and circularity will have a prominent place in our business operations.
CO2 neutrality by 2030, certified by an external institute. A generic roadmap will first be drawn up, after which this will be refined into one approach per company.
Circular business: EcoVadis certification. By the end of this year, all companies should have a prepared a plan of action for achieving silver or gold level certification by 2025.
In 2021, the new Head of Impact was appointed; this person reports to the Board of Directors. Under his leadership falls the Impact team, which consists of:
the Core Impact Team: centrally organised, responsible for strategy, policy, coordination, stakeholder management, positioning.
the Virtual impact team: local representation, ensures execution of strategy in the operating companies, provides input for policy and projects.
Ambassadors and sponsors: internal and external parties who represent us and support us in the implementation of strategy and policy.
In choosing SDGs 8 and 12, we also immediately create concrete starting points for the implementation of our strategy. In 2021, we decided that our companies will report their results according to the GRI approach. In doing so, we will translate the objectives of the SDGs into KPIs that fit our company. These parameters then allow us to report our impact results, and thus be accountable to all stakeholders about our contribution to sustainable development. GRI is the most widely used principle for non-financial reporting worldwide. It helps organisations understand their external impacts on the economy, the environment, and society.
Using GRI is also important for Vebego with regard to the preparation of a sustainability report in accordance with the European Corporate Sustainability Report Directive (CSRD). As Vebego, we give the highest priority to ensuring compliance with this guideline, which will come into force from 2024/2025. The CSRD requires companies to publish information on environmental and social matters, the treatment of employees, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery, and on diversity on company boards (in terms of age, gender, educational and professional background). With the GRI standards that we will be using, we will have everything in place for this in good time.