Strategic integration of Corporate Responsibility 2021
Strategic integration of CR
Strategic integration of Corporate Responsibility
Messer aligns itself with global economic, environmental and social climate and transition.
In so doing, Messer acts sustainably and responsibly in both the business and social environment.
We allow ourselves to be measured against our own objectives, innovations and traditions, but also against overarching ambitions.
Above all, climate change is fundamentally changing the global conditions of coexistence and business. The associated effects are having a direct impact on people and companies. Societal goals are undergoing realignment, free-market economic conditions are being modified accordingly – including regulatory changes. This presents us with risks and opportunities: in the context of the energy transition, for example, Messer is helping its customers make important and necessary progress toward climate neutrality.
As companies, we respect and promote diversity in the composition of our international teams; this enables us to apply different strengths and ideas when developing and implementing new solutions.
Thinking and acting with the long term in mind, taking our social responsibility toward our employees and society seriously, measuring ourselves on our sustainable success – in this regard, these are both key features and fundamental strengths of our family business.
Sustainability commitments of the management 2021
As the world’s largest family-run company specializing in industrial, medical and specialty gases, our actions are defined in relation to ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) and all employees live this in practice. Our mission statement plays a key role, summarizing our vision, our mission and our values and addressing the demands of our customers while focusing on our shared responsibility for the environment, people and progress.
Messer’s gases and know-how are helping to reach the UN’s declared goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. To that end, we are minimizing our own CO2 footprint and helping our customers reduce CO2 emissions in their applications. Enabling this takes many forms, including through the effect of our gas applications, an efficient gas supply, and the use of hydrogen (H2). We see green hydrogen as a lever to decarbonize industry and mobility. In that context, as a company we are focusing on three key elements: The economical on-site production of green hydrogen, H2 refueling solutions for public transportation and logistics, and operator models for fuel cell-powered buses.
The Messer team stands for courage, ambition, self-confidence, solidarity, success and respect. We are actively involved in solidarity campaigns for people who suffer hardship in their countries through no fault of their own.
We have included Diversity Management in our sustainability process through a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). We conduct training courses, for example, to counteract unconscious biases, thereby promoting a mutually respectful culture that is free of prejudice.
We benefit from the potentials of our internationally and multi-culturally staffed teams and develop them further. We want to raise the share of women in the first and second levels of management by 30 percent by 2030. From our mixed-gender management teams, we expect collaboration at the strategic level marked by well-balanced and profitable decisions.
Messer has grown to become an international group that continues to live the values of a family-run company.
We reflect the regulatory requirements of ESG reporting in our corporate guidelines. We use our potential relative to resources, employees, know-how and customer satisfaction for strategies and measures for sustainable growth and a secured financing of our investments.
We examine ways to integrate our team even better in the development of new ideas.
We encourage all employees to demonstrate their personal ESG commitment in harmony with the clear mission or our Group.
Stefan Messer, Bernd Eulitz, Ernst Bode, Helmut Kaschenz, Jens Luehring, Gareth Parkin
Messer’s daily and long-term activities determine the key elements of our strategic sustainability process. It is also aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
In evaluating these topics, we involve representatives of as many stakeholders as possible. Moreover, we follow the requirements of relevant ESG standards and reporting frameworks, such as CDP, EcoVadis, GRI and SASB. On that basis, we developed a list of 14 thematic categories and 80 individual topics whose relevance for Messer were evaluated by 47 managers and 373 employees in the context of an anonymous online survey. Selected individuals from our customers, suppliers, authorities and financial companies, as well as representatives from politics and NGOs, journalists and followers of our social media channels, also participated anonymously in our online survey.
This year, the topics of safety, environmental protection, customer satisfaction and social responsibility were identified as areas of greatest importance. Our decisions can affect all essential topics and also have a potential impact on stakeholder groups outside the organization as well as on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Accordingly, all major projects are relevant – both in-house and external to the organization. The following color-coded summary matrix clearly shows how our core topics correspond to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Internal and external stakeholders agree that we can make our greatest contributions to sustainability in the following areas:
- Safety: We aim to ensure the safety of our employees as well as that of our logistics and vehicles. We place a very high priority on the protection of data.
- Environment: We act according to our compliance and continue to work toward reducing our CO2 footprint. We do not pollute the water, soil or air. Through the highest possible energy efficiency, we conserve natural resources.
- Satisfaction of our customers: We meet our customers’ needs regarding quality, performance and environmental compatibility as well as plant and equipment safety and the security of supply.
- Diversity and equal opportunity: Our actions are based on diversity, trust and mutual respect and we leverage them to create business advantages.
We focus on this in the context of continuous improvement processes.
Customer and employee orientation, responsible action, corporate responsibility, open communication, trust and respect: all of these are embedded in our Company Values. To make those values and our development measurable and comparable with regard to sustainable action, we have been using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for sustainability since 2014.
Using measurable goals, we document our improvements and developments in the different business units. As already in financial year 2020, the present Sustainability Report 2021 publishes harmonized sustainability-related Key Performance Indicators that reflect both corporate groups: Messer Group (effective July 30, 2021 the companies of Messer SE & Co. KGaA) and Messer Industries.
This report is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and follows the G4 guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). We also report on third-party agents, such as EcoVadis, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the “Responsible Care” initiative of the chemical industry.
ORGANIZATIONAL AND PERSONNEL CHANGES
Messer’s “Integrity Line” offers a new communication platform that makes it easier for employees to report not only improvement suggestions but also perceived irregularities. Observations and suspicions regarding possible compliance violations can be directed to designated contact persons by phone or online – in compliance with the law and in the local language. It is also possible to remain anonymous. To protect not only the reporting individuals but also the employees implicated in the alleged irregularity, the Management Board of Messer issued applicable regulations that define the reporting process and implements the requirements of the EU Whistleblower Directive. The “Integrity Line” and the regulations are part of our Compliance Code of Conduct.
The Group Compliance Department revised the Code of Conduct (CoC). The CoC received a new layout and the revised version applies without restriction also for Messer Industries companies in Western Europe and the Americas. Wording and editorial changes were also incorporated. They make the content easier for users to understand through features such as supplementary footnotes and standardized terminology.
In the context of our Compliance Management System (CMS), a new Purchasing Policy for Electricity was adopted in 2021. It is designed to help minimize electricity costs for each air separation unit, negotiate the best possible contract terms, and make use of favorable market conditions when buying electricity. The policy applies to all consolidated Messer companies in Europe.
Dr. Uwe Bechtolf, Managing Director and CFO (Chief Financial Officer), left the company on December 31, 2021 at his own request. During the more than 26 years that Dr. Uwe Bechtolf worked for Messer, he made a major contribution to ensuring our company’s sustainable and profitable growth as well as strengthening and enhancing Messer’s strategic position in Europe and Asia. We thank Dr. Uwe Bechtolf for his extraordinary commitment in the service of our company.
Helmut Kaschenz has served as Chief Financial Officer of Messer SE & Co. KGaA since January 1, 2022.
On February 1, 2022, Bernd Eulitz assumed his position as Deputy CEO of Messer SE & Co. KGaA.
Accordingly, the Management Board now comprises Stefan Messer as CEO (2. from l.), Bernd Eulitz as Deputy CEO (2. from r.), Ernst Bode as COO (l.) and Helmut Kaschenz as CFO.
To pave new ways of working, Messer in America implemented the Messer Americas Management System (MMS). It forms the framework for fundamental guidelines, processes and procedures that enable our business to run smoothly. MMS replaces the previous Integrated Management System (IMS) and makes it easier for employees to understand the principal components of our business. MMS is consistent with our principles and with our vision of becoming a preferred supplier.
Messer was awarded the Croatian Sustainability Index HRIO in the “Medium-Sized Company” category. The evaluation focused on the company’s attitude vis-à-vis its employees, society, its customers, its suppliers, the government and the environment. The Croatian Sustainability Index HRIO is based on a ranking system that objectively evaluates and compares the social responsibility of companies and also audits compliance with the latest regulations of the European Union. The award is presented in three categories: Large Company, Medium-Sized Company, and Small Company.
With the Messer Compliance Management System (Messer CMS), we emphasize our shared understanding of our fundamental values. The Messer CMS is the binding framework of action for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory requirements and the policy guidelines within all business units of the Messer Group. Its purpose is to foster a relationship with our stakeholders based on fairness, solidarity and trust. It helps those in charge establish and implement our value system. Moreover, the Messer CMS is designed to prevent potential infractions in advance if possible. The managing directors and senior management are fully committed to the Messer CMS.
Messer Americas has adopted the Code of Conduct and also applies its own Code Supplement as well as a Supplier Code of Conduct. Other guidelines include a guideline on compliance with antitrust law, a guideline on anti-corruption, a compliance guide for business partners and a data protection guideline for North America.
Compliance violations and cases of justifiable suspicion
Employees can use appropriate hotlines to report about infringements of applicable law or the Messer Code (“compliance infringements”), as well as justifiable cases of suspicion, to managing directors and senior management at any time. The latter ensure prompt remedial action. Messer received 16 such reports in 2021, as compared with 6 in the previous year.
The Group IT Security Officer of Messer SE & Co. KGaA coordinates responsible security measures for the individual companies. He establishes the associated standards and develops the relevant expertise.
Through our IT security measures, we support the sustainability of our digitalization process and the physical security of our information, as well as the availability of the systems that our business processes require. An international team develops the relevant IT Security services.
In the year under review, various measures were undertaken to reorient completely the IT infrastructure of Messer SE & Co. KGaA. The new IT infrastructure reflects current, globally established standards, which makes it more effective, more stable and more secure – essential preconditions for working even more efficiently.
Raising employees’ awareness of IT risks
At the end of March 2021, to sharpen employees’ awareness of the scope and risks of cyber attacks, we launched the first assessment initiated throughout Europe via an IT security platform. Among other things, content covered e-mail fraud, safe use of the internet, the creation of secure passwords, and the protection of mobile devices. Based on the individual results of that first assessment, employees were referred for relevant training in a second step.
Phishing simulations as training measure
In the context of the “European Messer Phishing Campaign,” several phishing e-mails were sent out to the employees in Europe in 2021. The phishing campaign enables us to use an awareness platform to provide employees with specific training relative to the dangers of cyber crime. In this way, we minimize potential risks and strengthen the expertise of our employees.
At Messer Americas, the assessment of IT risks is part of the risk management program. Regular audits and reviews by third parties assess the security level, and the Executive Committee of Messer Americas receives regular updates on the current state of cyber security. Regular monitoring protects end devices, servers, applications, data and cloud platforms from cybersecurity attacks and threats. Monitoring by the infrastructure and security organization enables rapid reactions to attacks, vulnerabilities or emerging threats.
To raise the employees’ awareness of IT risks, Messer Americas relies on a combination of training, communication and online tools. This improves our ability to detect potential threats such as phishing e-mails or compromised business e-mails and to prevent the problems that would otherwise result from them.
Messer undertakes to comply with applicable data privacy regulations. Appropriate structures are designed to guarantee a consistently high level of data privacy.
The Group Privacy Officer of Messer SE & Co. KGaA is responsible for coordinating corporate Data Privacy and provides managerial support for its implementation by the national subsidiaries. Pursuant to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the German Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), we handle the data of our employees, customers and business contacts in conformance with the law. Messer also implements legally required data protection measures relative to organization and documentation. Messer’s European national subsidiaries and Messer SE & Co. KGaA publish their data privacy statements on their websites in their respective national language to facilitate understanding.
Messer Americas complies with the applicable data protection laws, the relevant Code of Conduct of Messer SE & Co. KGaA for America and the Code Supplement of Messer Americas. In addition, Messer Americas has adopted its own data privacy guideline for North America. The Senior Counsel & Regional Compliance Officer of Messer Americas, the Head of Human Resources for North America Business Operations and members of the Legal and Compliance Team of Messer Americas are available throughout the Americas for questions concerning data privacy. Messer Americas also consults with external specialists on compliance questions.
Training programs on data privacy are included in the Code of Ethics and Conduct of Messer Americas. The “Code of Ethics and Conduct” e-learning course is mandatory for all Messer Americas employees.
A sustainable supply chain is a prerequisite for Messer’s economic success. Relationships between Messer and its key suppliers play a crucial role here.
At Messer SE & Co. KGaA, the Logistics/Sourcing and Engineering/Production departments maintain close contact with these key suppliers. These central departments take charge of, or provide assistance with, the procurement of logistics services and commodities throughout Europe. The sustainable quality management systems of both departments are certified according to ISO 9001. Periodic audits of the key suppliers are an important part of their assessment.
The Production department helps the Messer national subsidiaries operate and maintain existing production facilities. The goal is to optimize production processes. Corporate computer-aided monitoring and control improves the cost effectiveness and energy efficiency of our systems, enabling us to reduce continuously the CO2 footprint of our plants. We consistently realize additional optimization potentials identified through regular process and energy audits.
The Engineering department is responsible, primarily in Europe, for the development, construction and modernization of units that produce technical and medical gases. In addition to plant design, project management, construction management, and start-up, this work also includes the procurement/purchasing of all required plant and equipment components. We apply the extensive experience gained during the construction and operation of existing plants to improve the efficiency of our plants continuously and to use technically high-quality, durable and energy-efficient components. Selected specialists work on advanced development for the continuous improvement of our processes – using, among other things, the latest process design programs and software tools.
In collaboration with Messer GasPack, the Logistics/Sourcing department ensures the availability and transport of all kinds of gases. This also includes the development of new logistics concepts and the rollout and operation of optimization and monitoring tools. In addition, procurement activities are conducted and coordinated throughout Europe. This applies for tank cars, stationary customer tanks, evaporators, electricity for the production plants, and gases from external sources. The leasing and periodic inspection of pressure vessels and fittings are another area of activity. The Logistics/Sourcing department also helps the national subsidiaries manage transport contracts and organize the transportation of heavy loads. Handling these specialized functions on a centralized basis not only provides economic benefits, but also serves to maintain consistently high quality standards throughout the company.
The Covid-19 pandemic sharply restricted the ability to conduct supplier audits again in 2021. Some outstanding audits have already been completed and others will be rescheduled for earliest possible completion. These audits focus primarily on the production process, the quality of the products manufactured, and sustainability. Since 2018, key suppliers have been obliged to adhere to the principles of the UN Global Compact, adding appropriate emphasis to sustainability, human rights, environmental awareness and working conditions. In the event of an unsatisfactory assessment, we work together with the supplier to develop adequate improvement measures. Critical non-compliance, however, leads to rejection of the supplier concerned.
Messer Americas also conduct regular supplier audits.
The procurement function concentrates on product category management, strategic procurement and expenditure management within the Procurement organization. This work also focuses on cost savings and occupational safety and health.
Messer Americas’ Sourcing team bundles expertise in the following categories: Indirect, Plants and Production, Merchant Packaged Gas, Customer Engineering Services, Logistics and Fixed Assets. In that context, it focuses on Category Management, Contract Lifecycle Management, Supplier Relationship Management and Compliance. The Sourcing team works closely with the operative team on all current investments. Messer Americas’ Sourcing team is subject to Messer Americas’ procurement policy and Messer Americas’ procurement guidelines.
Messer Americas’ Procurement group uses a supplier management system to guarantee quality and ensure compliance with standards that regulate operating performance, safety, the environment and social responsibility. Suppliers must submit a binding acknowledgment of Messer’s Code of Conduct Declaration. Moreover, Messer in the USA measures compliance with our standards by demanding compliance with our Conflict Minerals Declaration and our Supplier Quality Declaration.
Messer Americas’ Energy team manages the electricity demand – and with it, the Messer’s largest variable cost. In that context, the dedicated energy specialists work closely with the operations team to maximize utility and efficiency. To that end, power consumption is reduced during periods of high electricity prices or power grid emergencies.
In deregulated energy markets, the Energy team has implemented a direct power procurement strategy, which enables Messer to purchase electricity directly from wholesale energy markets. In addition, the Energy team uses an energy risk management program, which has resulted in lower and less volatile electricity costs. In regulated energy markets, the Energy team works closely with utilities, government agencies and other interest groups. This ensures that Messer obtains reasonable electricity rates that are in line with operating costs.
Messer Americas’ Energy team cooperates with local, state and federal authorities. This is the basis for obtaining allowances that reflect the operating flexibility and energy efficiency of Messer’s plants. Moreover, Messer participates in various industrial groups to help shape national and state energy policy. This primarily involves issues such as green energy, sustainability, reaction to energy demand, and the resilience of the electricity grid.