With its Vision 2020+, Siemens has recently once again clearly answered these questions: a company faces up to its responsibilities, furnishes lasting benefit and generates added value from a position of strength – for its shareholders, employees, customers, business partners and societies all over the world. Joe Kaeser puts it like this: “Only the strong can help the weak, take responsibility and then fulfill it. Serving society and generating value for all stakeholders are the key aspects of our purpose, and they determine how we allocate resources.” Siemens calls this attitude “Business to Society.“ A look back at Siemens history shows what that means.
A company must contribute to prosperity and progress in society – not just for the short term, but sustainably, for the benefit of future generations. We call that Business to Society.Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG
I will not sell the future for instant profit!Werner von Siemens, 1884
Generating social value added is one of the pillars of corporate operations at Siemens – as it has been for more than 170 years now. Ever since the company was founded in 1847, it has been working through its products, solutions and services to improve quality of life for people worldwide, generate value, and thus earn trust in its performance. After all, only those who know their own past can master the present and help define the future.
What it takes to shape the future successfullyIn the beginning, there is always an idea and the courage to make it a success – from the invention of the Siemens pointer telegraph in 1847 and the discovery of the dynamo-electric principle in 1866 to MindSphere, the operating system for the Internet of Things. Pioneering technologies and business models are part of Siemens’ DNA – innovations that shape the world because they concentrate on economically and socially relevant key technologies.
Shaping social development as a local partnerAt Siemens, innovative strength goes hand in hand with economic strength and an international presence. That gives the company a position of economic strength that provides the foundation for taking action responsibly. Only those who accept, anticipate and help shape change can have such strength. Siemens has its roots all over the world today, and is viewed as a local partner and an integral part of society everywhere it operates. What counts is to understand and acknowledge local attitudes and customs, and to contribute actively toward social development there – that’s what pursuing Business to Society means for Siemens.
Earning trust from a position of strengthBusiness success is founded on responsibility. And that includes responsible leadership that leaves room for creativity and relies on employees’ performance as well as sense of responsibility. That’s the kind of ownership culture that Siemens has focused on ever since it was founded. It’s reflected in numerous social policy measures that continue to prove their worth today.
Balancing ecological, economic and social goalsBusiness to Society also involves a balancing of ecological, economic and social goals. Achieving that balance is one of the guiding principles of the Siemens sustainability strategy. Here Siemens takes its cues from the 17 goals of the United Nations’ “Agenda 2030” for sustainable development, and it has been applying its business portfolio in electrification, automation and digitalization towards that end. Here the company itself is leading the way by offering a prime example: it is the world’s first major industrial corporation to have declared its aim to become climate-neutral by 2030, and it aims to cut its net CO2 emissions from business operations in half by 2020.
Charter of Trust
Trust calls for time and persistence. It has to be earned. Siemens has always made a great effort to be a responsible partner for its customers and employees, and thus to win their trust. This basic principle “Economy is built on trust” was already emphasized by Carl Friedrich von Siemens and the company founder’s son, and today it’s even the foundation of the “Charter of Trust” for a secure digital world that Siemens initiated only recently. The initiative brings together 15 global corporations and the Munich Security Conference to face the challenges of cyber attacks together: as strong partners and thought leaders of digitalization.
Standing up for democracy and humane valuesFor Siemens, earning trust and generating added value for society also means taking responsibility, and standing up when the basic principles of social life are threatened. Wherever discrimination arises, whoever perpetrates it – it’s in gross conflict with our company’s values. For Joe Kaeser, taking responsibility and standing up for it is more than just a catchphrase. At the awarding of the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance at the Jewish Museum Berlin on November 11, 2017, he made it clear that it is unacceptable to stand idly by when democracy and the rule of law are in danger.
Every business leader, just like every citizen, has the responsibility to stand up for basic principles. When Alice Weidel, a representative from the rightwing AfD party, spoke out against foreigners during a session of the German Parliament in May of 2018, he chimed in on Twitter. And with a joint communique from the Managing Board, the Central Works Council, and top managers of Siemens AG and IG Metall trade union, initiated by Kaeser, the company stated unequivocally: “Siemens stands for understanding and openness and opposes every form of discrimination, social exclusion, hate, and nationalism. Siemens’ Managing Board, Senior Management, Central Works Council, and entire workforce as well as the IG Metall metalworkers’ union stand together against every form of populism and racism. Regardless of where in the world it originates or who is behind it – discrimination stands in stark contrast to our company’s values. We have operations in more than 200 countries around the world, and employees from about 170 different nations work at our company. Respect, tolerance, and diversity are a matter of course for us, and they form the foundation for our company values. […]. For this reason, we should and must take an effective stand against discrimination and for our values – day in and day out.” That, too, is a part of Business to Society.
Strength is a tradition at Siemens, and we’re doing everything in our power to remain a strong, successful company for the future. Our strength is the foundation that enables us to take responsibility toward our stakeholders and society, and to apply our abilities in ways that have a sustainable effect and serve for the good of all. Business to Society is the guiding spirit behind our business activities – building on a long history, and with our gaze set on a successful future.
Dr. Johannes von Karczewski