Corporate Sustainability should be as natural as breathing

One of the most significant international corporate rankings has just been announced by Corporate Knights: the Global Most Sustainable Corporations list. All of us at Siemens are thrilled that our company earned the number one spot in the 2017 rankings.

I am delighted to see Siemens honoured for its cutting edge commitment to sustainability.

In 2017, making sustainability a corporate priority is exactly like making breathing a personal priority. If you stop breathing, you can’t live. And if corporations fail to become sustainable, they too can’t live.

It is no longer simply a good or noble thing for corporations to be environmentally responsible. It is an absolutely essential part of any corporation’s business plan – as essential as breathing.

It’s clear, from the Corporate Knights’ list, that many, many companies are doing just that. The Sustainable Corporations ranking process this year started with 4,973 listed companies; the magazine published the top 100.

Sustainability is not simply an “add-on” idea for corporations. For a company to be truly sustainable, environmental and human concerns have to be at the very heart of all of its operations, its planning, and its decision-making.

I am pleased to say that sustainability has been at the core of Siemens’ culture since Werner von Siemens founded the company 170 years ago, and continues to be a driver for Siemens companies around the world, including here in Canada.

Our new branding tagline –Ingenuity for Life – focuses directly on sustainability; our innovations and developments must contribute to human life at its healthiest.

Our sustainable business model makes three areas of sustainable development – environment, business and society – the cornerstone of all corporate activities.

Clearly, energy is one key area for all corporations to consider. At Siemens, this is one of our core competencies, as we work with clients to develop sustainable energy systems. But it also needs to be an internal commitment for every company. For example, Siemens is committed to cutting our company’s carbon footprint in half by 2020 and to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Corporate sustainability does not come about by accident, or through wishful thinking. Corporations need to develop a clearly defined organizational structure and a sustainability strategy, and then to work – and work hard! – to be sure this strategy is understood, accepted, and carried out at every level of corporate activity.

It’s one thing to claim to be green; it’s another to make sustainability the foundation of your investment strategy, your planning, your research and development, your supply chain, your day-to-day activities, and your entire eco-system. But this is what we all must do.

Never before in history has corporate efforts to protect and improve our global environment been so important. Corporations that drain resources and put nothing back are, frankly, the enemy of our world – and of all of us who are working to save it.

I applaud the efforts of the companies honoured by Corporate Knights – and I am glad to use this opportunity, provided to us by Corporate Knights, to call on all corporations to join together in this drive toward sustainability – which is in reality, a drive toward survival.