Introduction by the
Chief Executive Officer
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We design the infrastructure of the future. Wienerberger is a modern company that looks back to a history of almost 200 years. Over the past five years, the company has evolved from a pure brick producer into a leading building materials supplier with worldwide operations. Our activities in the infrastructure sector have grown in scope and now include pipe systems supplied by Pipelife and Steinzeug-Keramo as well as pavers by Semmelrock. We have also expanded significantly in the roofing segment – most recently through the takeover of Tondach Gleinstätten. Thus, we are now in a position to offer modern and innovative building material and infrastructure solutions for the construction of healthy and energy-efficient buildings for residential and commercial purposes, as well as the design of modern infrastructure.
Wienerberger operates worldwide
The transformation of the Group from a supplier of building materials into a diversified infrastructure provider is also reflected in the internal development of the company. Today, we have a worldwide presence, with almost 14,000 employees working at 203 (2015) production sites in 30 countries. We have become more diverse, more international and more flexible. However, our fundamental values have remained the same – they include respect, integrity as well as transparency and sustainability.
Wienerberger plan of action: Sustainability Roadmap 2020
In recent years, we have reported regularly with respect to our sustainability targets and our performance. We have achieved most of our targets, some of them even ahead of schedule. Other targets were revised or dropped within the framework of the materiality analysis performed with input from our stakeholders. Our new targets and the measures envisaged have been laid down in our Sustainability Roadmap 2020, which is being presented to the public for the first time in this report. The priority targets set in the Roadmap include the health and safety of our employees, energy efficiency and climate action, innovative products and business ethics.
Focus on our employees
The safety and satisfaction of our 14,000 employees are top priorities for us. For years, we have been making every effort to increase the standard of safety in our plants. However, despite our full commitment and the numerous initiatives taken to avoid accidents, two fatal accidents occurred in 2014. We deeply regret these accidents. We have further intensified our safety training measures. Moreover, we are continuing our efforts in the areas of health care. For example, monitoring of employees potentially exposed to respirable crystalline silica now covers a satisfactory 95.6% of our workforce. Our employees benefit from a broad range of training programs. In 2014, the number of hours of training per employee increased by 12.5% compared with the previous year.
Innovation in response to the challenges of the future
The requirements to be met by building materials and infrastructure solutions have changed profoundly in recent decades. There is high demand for innovative products in order to meet the challenges of the future: adjustment to climate change, efficient use of resources in an expanding urban space and, in particular, the provision of social housing. We saw these trends coming and focused on research and development at an early point in time. In 2014, innovative products accounted for almost 25% of Wienerberger’s total revenues. This is not only to Wienerberger’s own benefit, but also to the benefit of our customers and the environment. Our innovative infill bricks with thermal insulation material integrated into the clay block, for example, not only make the building envelope highly energy-efficient, but also help to reduce heating costs.
Improving performance with protection of the environment
We want to take the lead in other areas as well. It is our goal to improve our performance organically through operational excellence. Apart from the aspect of cost savings, we strive for continuous improvements in all corporate processes and in our employees’ working conditions. In doing so, we never lose sight of environmental protection. Tailor-made internal programs are designed to introduce uniform production management standards, streamline organizational structures, optimize all technical processes, improve working conditions and raise safety standards. By the end of 2014, 45 brick production sites were participating in the Plant Improvement Program; by 2016, the program is to be rolled out to a total of 110 sites. Increasing energy efficiency in production is a particularly important topic in this context. Wienerberger concentrates, above all, on innovative process technologies, the use of waste heat, and product optimization. By 2020, we intend to reduce specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions from primary energy sources in brick production in Europe and at Pipelife by 20%, compared with 2010. So far, our track record is good. Pipelife has implemented the Group-wide “Energy Treasure Hunt” project in order to reduce energy and electricity consumption at individual production sites. The success achieved confirms the value of the project: Pipelife Poland alone was able to reduce its energy consumption by about 7% in 2014.
Diversity on the Supervisory Board
As shown by numerous studies, a higher percentage of women in executive positions usually has a positive impact on the performance of a company. Having role models is particularly important in this context. Therefore, I am happy to report that at the 146th annual general meeting on 22 May 2015 the shareholders of Wienerberger AG not only reelected Regina Prehofer as chairwoman of the Supervisory Board, but also elected another two women, Caroline Grégoire Sainte-Marie and Myriam Meyer, to serve on the top-level supervisory body of our company. As a result, three out of eight members of the Supervisory Board are women, corresponding to a ratio of 37.5%. We explicitly commit ourselves to the goal of further increasing the percentage of women at senior management level and in executive positions. To reach this target, we not only provide appropriate career development paths for our female employees, but also create an environment that facilitates the reconciliation of work and family obligations. We have therefore set ourselves the goal of increasing diversity and becoming an even more family-friendly company for all our employees, regardless of gender, by the end of 2015.
Endorsement of the ten principles of the UN Global Compact
When we signed the UN Global Compact in 2003, we officially acknowledged our responsibility as a corporate citizen. We actively promote business ethics and see to it that the ten principles of the UN Global Compact are consistently implemented throughout the Wienerberger Group. For further information on this topic, please refer to the UN Global Compact Communication on Progress and the GRI Content Table in this report as well as on our website.
We will continue working intensively on the implementation of our goals in the future and I invite you to join us on this course.