Sustainability Management at Wienerberger: A Clear Roadmap for the Entire Value Chain

September 21, 2021 Sean Donnelly

Christine Vieira Paschoalique began working in the area of sustainability at Wienerberger AG in 2006 and, as Head of Corporate Sustainability, has been responsible for group-wide sustainability management since 2014. In the following interview, first published by Beschaffung aktuell, she spoke about Wienerberger’s sustainability journey and about the measures and tools implemented in regard to supplier management.

Wienerberger, an international provider of products and system solutions for buildings and infrastructure, put sustainability on the corporate agenda early on. How did you start to implement the topic in the company?

Sustainability has always been at the core of Wienerberger's world and is strongly demanded and promoted by our Managing Board. Since I started in 2006, the topic has grown enormously and, at the same time, has changed in terms of Wienerberger’s ambitions and the requirements it places on an international company. In 2009, we implemented the first sustainability report for Wienerberger, which was an important step. Then, in 2014, with responsibility for coordinating sustainability management for the entire Wienerberger Group, we also conducted a materiality analysis with our internal and external stakeholders for the first time.  Based on the results of this analysis, which focused on the sustainability topics important to Wienerberger, we developed a Group-wide sustainability program with measurable targets, concrete measures and deadlines until 2020. 

In 2020, in the course of the reorientation of the Wienerberger strategy and the development of the Sustainability Program 2023, Wienerberger performed a new materiality, impact and risk analysis in accordance with current, state-of-the-art practices and with the support of an external partner. Based on these findings, we developed a new Wienerberger Sustainability Program 2023, which is embedded in our corporate strategy. The Sustainability Program 2023, with its targets for greenhouse gas reduction, circular economy and biodiversity, is part of our contribution to the European Green Deal and is embedded deeply in our corporate strategy. 

We are also pleased that Wienerberger is now joining its forces via our Group Sustainability & Innovation Department, newly established in 2020, and headed by Mark van Loon, Senior Vice President, Group Sustainability & Innovation.

Discover the ways in which leaders are turning to procurement to take action on the SDGs and improve the sustainability performance of their suppliers in Substance of Purpose – The Impact of Supply Chain Sustainability: Growth, Valuation, Brand and Society.

What role does the supply chain or sustainable procurement play in your broader sustainability strategy?

For a long time, sustainable procurement in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects was a blank spot on the sustainability map because implementing reforms in this area is more complex than sustainability management in our own company. But if our suppliers do not comply with certain minimum standards, it is just as bad as if such shortcomings occurred within our own four walls. 

The centralization of purchasing a few years ago created a resilient platform that enables the Group-wide implementation of tools, processes and common instruments for responsible supplier management. In particular, the strong commitment in the Corporate Procurement team, and from the Wienerberger Managing Board, to hold our suppliers accountable in the same way we do ourselves has enabled the rapid implementation of our supplier management system in regard to sustainability factors. Cooperation with EcoVadis has played a key role in this, along with other processes and tools that have been implemented.

Find out more about the accelerating growth of sustainable procurement following the COVID-19 pandemic in our Sustainable Procurement Barometer 2021.

What does your program for sustainable supplier management look like in concrete terms?

As a first step, a Supplier Code of Conduct was created as a clear communication to our suppliers and also to our other stakeholders. Other measures include a monthly sanctions list scan of all suppliers entered in SAP via an interactive data platform with regard to international sanctions lists. In addition, we have employees in the purchasing area trained by external certification institutes to conduct supplier audits. The aim is to carry out standardized supplier audits throughout the Group and to have at least one certified employee in each national subsidiary to carry out these audits.

A new executive position for digitalization and ESG in Procurement was created and an appropriate head appointed. Furthermore, Wienerberger has implemented an internal data platform containing information on the financial terms and conditions, as well as the ESG performance and risks, of all Wienerberger suppliers. This supplier relationship management tool facilitates efficient and coordinated data capture.

However, it was clear to us that in order to conduct a truly comprehensive ESG assessment, we needed an external partner equipped with the appropriate resources, platforms, tools and processes. EcoVadis is an attractive cooperation partner due to its international positioning and the size of the already existing platform. In addition, the way in which information on suppliers' sustainability performance is made available is very practical.

Read more about the 5 key attributes to look for in a holistic supplier monitoring solution to help maximize the resiliency and efficiency of your supply chain.

How is EcoVadis integrated into procurement processes?

Our Supplier Management Tool, which displays all relevant information for each supplier, is directly linked to the EcoVadis results. This means that when making supplier decisions, we can view and consider financial conditions, business conditions and sustainability performance at a glance. We started our assessment strategy with strategically relevant suppliers, with the goal of rolling it out as broadly as possible.

At EcoVadis, we know that to get the most out of sustainability ratings, you need easy access to sustainability performance data within the tools you already use. Our integration services can connect your EcoVadis data to your procurement software, such as sourcing, contract, spend and supplier relationship management systems, and more. 

Wienerberger itself has an EcoVadis rating - what role does that play for your company?

The focus on ratings is increasing and our investors, partners and customers are asking about our sustainability performance and corresponding ratings. In the course of the ratings, we have become aware that this is not just about the consistent, structured implementation of our sustainability management, the achievement of our targets or the transparent communication of processes and measures. Rather, ratings are about demonstrating our commitment to sustainable action with regard to environmental, social and governance issues through policies and thus defining our commitment within a specific communication framework. This was a valuable learning process for us.

In November 2020, Wienerberger received a silver medal from EcoVadis in recognition of its sustainability performance - what advice would you give to a company just starting out with sustainable procurement?

Supplier management is a large, complex subject area and it is difficult for companies to find a sensible starting point in this regard. As a first step, it was very helpful for us to define the potential impacts or risks along our purchasing areas and supplier groups. This made it clear where we had to start and in which sequence planned measures needed to be rolled out. Having a partner like EcoVadis at our side, who has experience in this area and supports companies in obtaining structured information about suppliers, is a great help.

Image: Christine Vieira Paschoalique; Head of Corporate Sustainability, Wienerberger AG 
Source: Uwe Strasser/Wienerberger AG. 

Interview conducted  in January 2021; published in September 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Sean Donnelly

Sean Donnelly joined EcoVadis in 2021. He holds a PhD in Modern European History from Teesside University and has worked previously in research and communications capacities at the European Commission and in the Irish Civil Service.

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