When we received the news, my colleague and friend Naline M, Global SCM Material and Legal Compliance Manager, reminded me of this quote from Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable:
Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.
I simply could not agree more as it really resonates with our journey to this recognition - as a team and as a company. Let me take you through it.
Navigating our two-year journey
Our journey to the EcoVadis Gold Medal began two years ago, when we participated in the EcoVadis assessment for the first time as a standalone company. The assessment involves completing a detailed questionnaire (over 50 pages with 400 questions) that covers all aspects of sustainability performance including company policies, practices, and performance in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, labor and human rights, anti-corruption and sustainable procurement. Companies are evaluated based on the evidence that is provided in the form of documentation, with a maximum of 55 documents that can be uploaded as evidence. There you have our first challenge – 400 questions and 55 documents - so your evidence needs to be concise.
During that time, our company was emerging from acquisition and navigating its organizational structure; as Hitachi ABB Power Grids we were between two worlds, ABB and Hitachi, which undoubtedly made the evaluation process challenging. Why? For example, at that time we had many documents with the ABB logo which would not represent the scope that we wanted to assess: Hitachi ABB Power Grids. Also, even if we had policies and action plans with the right logo, we didn’t have “results” to demonstrate our performance for the scope assessed, since our company was “too young” to have results for a complete year, so we had to refer to ABB performance in many cases. Also, it was the first year participating, so it was quite overwhelming to find documentation for all the areas. Nevertheless, we worked as a team, “played our cards” the best way we could, and we achieved a Silver Medal recognition, which at that time, was a good starting point.
Sustainability 2030, our strategic plan for sustainability, shows our key commitments to act and drive business in a sustainable way.
Reaching EcoVadis gold status
But, of course, we wanted more. Despite being a young company, we are anchored on more than a century-old heritage, and we have the right people, the right technology, and the passion to work toward our goals. And we knew what we had to do, while still adapting to the very dynamic topic of sustainability and our new identity as Hitachi Energy.
EcoVadis assesses how well you manage sustainability – according to the PDCA (plan–do–check–act) cycle. We had to demonstrate that we had strategic plans on which we set actions, those actions led to results and we acted again on those results. And what is the best way to demonstrate that? By collecting all that information in a consolidated report. But once again – we had never done it before! This did not stop us though. We worked with internal business units, HSE, Legal & Integrity, Supply Chain, Human Resources, Sustainability and Communications functions to consolidate all information in our very first internal sustainability report for Hitachi Energy. It was a challenging new exercise that we completed on top of our day-to-day tasks, but it was worthwhile.
While the Gold Medal was our aspiration, we exceeded our own expectations by scoring 15 points higher than last year, putting us a mere 5 points away from Platinum - which is the highest possible recognition! Overall, we improved in all the assessed areas (Labor and Human Rights, Environment, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement), with 20 points for labor and human rights and sustainable procurement. This was proof that we have matured as a company and within the whole scope of sustainability with clear examples to demonstrate that progress.
Achieving 100 percent fossil-free electricity in our operations was a great milestone. Learn more about it in this video:
We also formally committed to the Science Based Targes initiative (SBTi) and submitted our own ambitious targets for validation. Sustainable procurement has done a fantastic job releasing a new cobalt policy. We also identified our Human Rights Salient Issues along our value chain to prioritize how we address human rights impact and define action plans. We set up an ISO 37001 Anti Bribery management system and released our new Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct. We provided employees capacity building to address mental well-being with the “Mind Matters” initiative.
Diversity 360 is our vision which ensures diversity and inclusion are at the core of our long-term business success. We believe in the power of diversity of thought and that it’s everyone’s job to build a workplace that fosters it. We launched our Leadership Pillars through a co-creation process that engaged colleagues worldwide with clear expectations for leaders and employees.
We continued to strengthen our supply chain by introducing a pilot project with EcoVadis for direct, raw material high-risk categories for more than 150 suppliers. And these are just a few examples, there are many more!
Looking ahead to Platinum
EcoVadis looks at how well we manage sustainability, linking our business and operations to sustainability. In Hitachi Energy, we have a clear and crucial purpose which is to advance a sustainable energy future for all. As society shifts towards sustainable energy and as industries rapidly convert to electrification, one thing is clear: electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system. Our most important role is to ensure that we have a modern energy system fit for this future. Hitachi Energy 2030 business plan is our commitment to our purpose while delivering social, environmental, and economic value. This demonstrates how our business plan and strategic sustainability plan are aligning and evolving together, going hand in hand, and becoming one.
The EcoVadis Gold Medal is a sign that we are in the right direction. Still, we have a lot to do, but we are learning, improving and maturing as Hitachi Energy. A Platinum Medal is the ultimate goal, but as sustainability becomes more of a focus for companies worldwide, the standards and assessments will no doubt become harder over time. Nevertheless, we will continue to work hard to achieve Platinum, because every improvement will translate to strengthening our environmental, social, and ethical practices across our value chain, which ultimately contributes to our purpose. Lastly, I believe it is important to celebrate this achievement and I personally would like to say a huge THANKS to all involved that made it happen, as it was a true team effort. Let’s keep the focus, passion, energy, and the good work as one team, because we truly are stronger together!