Strategic integration of Corporate Responsibility
Strategic integration of CR
Strategic integration of Corporate Responsibility
Our sustainable action in economic and social contexts derives not only from our own objectives, innovations and traditions but also from overarching aspirations and societal transformation.
In coming years, climate change will fundamentally transform markets: people and companies are already affected today by its impacts, the reorientation of social objectives and/or the associated adaptations of the market economy. We acknowledge our responsibility in the transformation of the energy systems and want to help our customers make significant progress toward achieving the goal of climate neutrality.
As a family business, we think and act with the long term in mind, fulfill our social responsibility to our employees and society, and measure ourselves on our sustainable success.
Sustainability commitments of the management
We are committed to sustainability in our core areas: those areas are sustainable business with our customers and in the markets in which we operate, environmental and climate protection, safety, employees and society.
“Messer is represented in major markets of the world: We respect the cultural differences and laws of the regions where we do business, contributing to communities and education systems there through a wide range of support activities. Mutual trust and respect for the diversity of people, open communication in collaboration, and the development of our employees are steadfast values that form the unalterable basis of our interaction with one another.
We pledge to follow sustainable business practices and safeguard our autonomy and independence through, among other things, far-sighted investment. In so doing, we provide long-term security to our employees and our business and financial partners in our collaboration with them.
We contribute to environmental and climate protection through the continuous improvement of our processes. Moreover, we also focus on developing technologies that make our customers’ production methods more efficient and eco-friendly.
With that in mind, our activities are focused on the safety of our customers, employees and partner companies as well as the safety of the equipment we install and that of our distribution channels.
Our continuous efforts to achieve sustainable improvements in the efficiency of our equipment and logistics processes and the resulting conservation of resources are no less part of our core brand identity than reliable product supply at fair prices and our collaborative relationship with our clientele.
With all our stakeholders, we act with the utmost transparency. We view corporate responsibility as a business obligation with strategic utility, whereby we establish well-defined key indicators for control purposes, have implemented them in our management organization, and follow GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards in our sustainability reporting. We follow a documented Code of Cooperation and Conduct governing interactions with all of our stakeholders. Compliance with all applicable laws and regulations is a matter, of course, for us worldwide, as is protection of the personal data of our employees and business partners.
The success of our company is based, to a large extent, on the loyalty of our employees. We are committed to open-mindedness, diversity, tolerance and respect for cultural differences – without limitation or exception. Intolerance, racism and sexism are completely at odds with our company’s values. Our culture offers space for everyone – regardless of nationality, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation – to develop on a free and equal basis. Diversity enriches us.”
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The basic topics of our strategic sustainability process are defined by Messer’s daily and long-term activities and they are aligned with the 17 Sustainability Goals of the United Nations. When evaluating these topics, we consider it important to include representatives of all stakeholder groups. For that reason, we compiled a transparent list of 16 core topics, which have been voluntarily ranked by 45 senior managers and 771 employees via an anonymous online survey. Selected journalists, our customers, and followers of our social media channels also participated anonymously in the online survey. As in previous years, the safety of our customers and employees is of utmost importance to our company. Our decisions can affect all major topics and also potentially impact both stakeholders outside the organization and the 17 UN Sustainability Goals. Accordingly, all major projects – both in-house and external to the organization – are relevant. The color coding clearly indicates the correspondence between our core topics and the UN Sustainability Goals.
Internal and external stakeholders remain in agreement that we can make our greatest social contribution in four thematic areas:
- Safety and health: we undertake to protect our employees, business partners and customers, and to ensure the greatest possible safety in the manufacture, transportation, utilization and handling of our products.
- Energy efficiency and the environment: we are mindful of environmental protection and the responsible treatment of resources in our own processes and in those of our customers.
- Diversity and equal opportunity: we build our corporate culture and our business strengths on mutual trust and respect.
- Customer satisfaction: we help our customers strengthen their performance, both economically and socially.
In so doing, we focus our work resources 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 Messer’s mission statement.
In order to make those values – along with developments relative to sustainable action – measurable and comparable, Messer first introduced sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in 2014.
We set measurable goals for ourselves in the different business units to document our improvements and development. We are publishing those goals in the present Sustainability Report for the financial year 2020. This year marks the first time that we are publishing harmonized key performance sustainability-related indicators reflecting both corporate entities: Messer Group and Messer Industries. Although this reinforces our shared objective, comparisons between the present Sustainability Report and the previous year cannot always be drawn as a result.
This report is based on the UN Sustainability Goals and follows the G4 guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). At our customers’ request, we also report on third-party agents, such as EcoVadis and the Carbon Disclosure Project, as well as on the worldwide “Responsible Care” initiative of the chemical industry.
The Messer Compliance Management System (Messer CMS) emphasizes our shared understanding of our fundamental values. It constitutes a mandatory framework for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory provisions and the inter-company and company-internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group. The managing directors and senior management are fully committed to the Messer CMS. As a value system, it serves to foster a relationship with our internal and external stakeholders that is based on fairness, solidarity and confidence. It supports those in charge of its establishment and implementation and also seeks to prevent violations of the Messer Code, if possible in advance.
Messer Americas adheres to the Code of Conduct and also follows 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 (with the associated authorization form), a compliance guide for business partners (with a due diligence checklist and a sample agreement) and a data protection guideline for North America. These guidelines are available on the “Legal and Compliance” intranet site of Messer Americas.
Compliance violations and cases of justifiable suspicion
The managing directors and senior management organize their area of responsibility in a way that continuously enables employees to report violations of applicable law or the Messer Code ("compliance violations"), as well as cases of justifiable suspicion, in order to ensure prompt remedial action. In 2020, Messer received six reports through the corresponding hotlines.
New manuals for pesticides and Pharmaline gases
In 2020, the management of Messer approved new versions of the manuals for Plant Protection Products and Pharmaline gases within the Compliance Management System (CMS). The Plant Protection Products (pesticides) manual contains expanded guidelines on obligations pursuant to pesticides law for European companies concerning purchase of materials and products, production, quality control, release, storage, marketing and sale of pesticides as well as the associated controls. The manual for Pharmaline gases contains expanded guidelines for European companies on obligations pursuant to pharmaceutical law and requirements of pharmacy customers as well as Pharmaline gases.
At Messer Group GmbH, the Group IT Security Officer is responsible for coordinating security measures across all the individual companies, establishing standards, and developing the relevant expertise. By maintaining the crucially important availability of our systems, IT Security supports the sustainability of our digitalization, the physical security of our information, and the essential viability of our business processes. The IT Security services are elaborated by an international team of IT Security experts.
In the course of the year under review, we signed an agreement outsourcing most of the applications previously operated in the Messer Information Services data center in Gross-Umstadt, Germany. The purpose of this collaboration is the strategic and technical realignment of the Messer Group IT infrastructure with currently applicable, globally established standards, in order to make the IT infrastructure more effective, stable and secure, and thereby to create essential conditions for further efficiency and process improvements.
The realization of the project implements uniformly high security standards. Between December 2020 and the projected completion date of June 2021, all 110 locations of Messer Group and Messer Industries in Western Europe are to be connected to the IBM data center. Today’s very inconsistent security-related infrastructure at the locations will be standardized and uniformly administered from a central location by a team of experts of the outsourcing partner.
At Messer Americas, cybersecurity risk assessment is embedded within the company’s entire risk management program. This includes regular audits and analyses by third parties, in order to evaluate the overall cybersecurity situation and the fulfillment of the road map. The Executive Committee of Messer Americas is informed on the current cybersecurity status through regular updates provided throughout the year by the management, including the CIO and Information Services. The road map and the required financing for additional tools and resources are approved in this way.
Messer Americas regularly audits its Information Technology to protect against cybersecurity attacks and threats. Those audits cover end devices, servers, applications and data, along with cloud platforms, which are regularly monitored by members of the infrastructure and security organization, in order to ensure a rapid reaction to attacks, weaknesses or emerging threats. Messer Americas has IT security guidelines and procedures designed to ensure that the infrastructure, access and data are appropriately monitored and administered.
Employee awareness and training are an important part of Messer Americas’ cybersecurity program. This is achieved through a combination of training, communication and the use of online tools that apply social engineering concepts to assess the employees’ awareness and the potential vulnerability to threats and attacks (e.g. phishing, compromising of business e-mails, etc.).
Messer acknowledges its obligation to comply with applicable data protection regulations. Underscoring that obligation, appropriate structures have been established for the purpose of guaranteeing a continuously high level of data privacy.
Messer Americas complies with the applicable data protection laws. Data protection is handled in both Messer Group’s Code of Conduct for America and in Messer Americas’ Code Supplement. In addition, Messer Americas has adopted its own data privacy guideline for North America, which is available on the compliance web page of the Messer Americas’ North American intranet. Both the Senior Counsel & Regional Compliance Officer of Messer Americas and the Head of Human Resources for North America Business Operations are listed as contacts for questions and data protection topics. Members of Messer Americas’ legal and compliance teams are also available throughout the Americas to answer questions and address issues concerning data protection. Messer Americas also relies on external legal consultants, who provide advice on compliance questions as needed, especially in South America. Data privacy instruction is included in Messer Americas’ e-learning course on the Code of Ethics and Conduct, which includes a data privacy module. The “Code of Ethics and Conduct” e-learning course is mandatory for all Messer Americas employees.
A sustainable supply chain is one of the foundations of Messer’s economic success.
The relationships between Messer and its key suppliers play a crucial role here. Those relationships are maintained by Messer Group GmbH’s Logistics / Sourcing and Engineering / Production departments in their respective areas of expertise. These central departments take charge of or provide assistance with the Europe-wide purchasing of logistics services and special commodities, merchandise, facilities, machinery, and transport equipment, as well as vessels and containers. They are both ISO 9001-certified and have put in place robust and effective quality management systems as part of the certification process. Periodic audits of key suppliers are an essential part of supplier assessment.
The Production department helps the Messer national subsidiaries operate and maintain existing production facilities (troubleshooting, maintenance planning, know-how transfer / training, standardization) with the goal of production process optimization. The centralized computer-aided monitoring and control of equipment are used to reduce energy consumption and thereby continuously improve the profitability and CO2 footprint of our plants. Optimization opportunities developed in regular process and energy audits are consistently implemented.
The Engineering department is responsible for all technical and procurement-related aspects concerning the implementation of projects for the production of all types of gases, primarily within Europe. This includes the development and construction or conversion of plants that produce technical and medical gases. In addition to plant design, project management and construction management, this work also encompasses everything ranging from the procurement / purchasing of all required components to plant start-up. Important factors in the design and construction of new plants include the incorporation of findings and values obtained through plant and equipment operation to improve the efficiency of production facilities along with the use of technically high-quality, durable and energy-efficient components. A small group of specialists focuses on the advanced development of our processes. In that continuous further development work, we use the latest process design programs and software tools.
In collaboration with Messer GasPack, Logistics / Sourcing ensures the availability of products (all kinds of gases) and their transportation, for both Messer and its customers. This also includes the development of new logistics concepts and the rollout and operation of optimization and monitoring tools. In addition, the department handles and/or coordinates the procurement of tankers, stationary customer tanks and vaporizers throughout Europe; the procurement, lease and periodic inspection of pressurized tanks and fittings; the procurement of electricity for the production facilities; and the procurement of gases from external sources. Logistics / Sourcing 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 it also serves to maintain consistently high-quality standards throughout the company.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic sharply restricted the ability to conduct supplier audits. All outstanding audits will be completed as soon as the situation allows again.
The audits focus primarily on the production process, the quality of the products manufactured, and sustainability. Since 2018, the key suppliers are also required to adhere to the principles of the UN Global Compact, placing additional focus not only on sustainability but also on human rights, environmental awareness and working conditions, among other things. In the event of an unsatisfactory assessment, we work together with the supplier to develop measures to improve performance. Critical non-compliance leads to rejection of the supplier.
Messer Americas used the internal assessment system to audit more suppliers in 2020. About 28.8 percent of suppliers were rated “excellent,” 57.5 percent were rated “satisfactory,” and 13.7 percent were rated “substandard.”
Messer Americas’ Procurement group handles product category management, strategic procurement and expenditure management within the procurement organization, in order to achieve savings while complying with health and safety standards at the same time. Messer Americas’ sourcing team is strategically aligned to the business and has expertise in the categories Indirect, Plants and Production, Merchant Packaged Gas, Customer Engineering Services, Logistics and Fixed Assets. In that context, Messer Americas’ sourcing team focuses on Category Management, Contract Lifecycle Management, Supplier Relationship Management and Compliance. Procurement is an integral part of our organization and works together 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 maintains a supplier management system to guarantee quality and compliance with our standards of operating performance, safety, the environment and social responsibility. Messer’s suppliers must submit a binding acknowledgment of our Supplier 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 has a highly dedicated team of energy experts who manage electrical power, Messer’s largest variable cost. The energy team works closely with the operations team to maximize utility and efficiency by reducing power consumption during periods of high electricity prices or electrical grid emergencies.
In deregulated energy markets, the energy team has developed and implemented a strategy for direct wholesale electrical power procurement, which enables Messer to purchase electrical power directly from wholesale energy markets. The energy team uses an energy risk management program, which has provided Messer with lower and less volatile electrical power costs. In regulated energy markets, the energy team works closely together with utilities, authorities and other interest groups to ensure that Messer obtains fair and reasonable electrical power rates in line with operating costs. Messer Americas’ energy team works closely together with local, state and federal authorities to obtain allowances that reflect the operating flexibility and energy efficiency of Messer’s plants. Moreover, Messer’s participation in various industrial groups also helps shape national and state energy policy concerning current issues such as green energy, sustainability, reaction to energy demand, and the resilience of the electricity grid.