After two years at STIHL, one person in particular is inextricably linked with the topic of sustainability here: Dr. Friedemann Stock. This means that the topic of energy is also on his agenda every day. Which makes him a good person to ask about what has happened since the implementation of the official STIHL 2021 Sustainability Strategy – and perhaps we can also find out where he gets the energy to fulfill all the responsibilities associated with his role.
Dr. Friedemann Stock, how does it feel to be the first Sustainability Manager at STIHL? Is the job what you imagined?
Sustainability Officer is a newly created position for the STIHL Group, so there wasn’t a concrete specification as to what duties it would involve. This seldom happens, and it is a fun situation because there is such great freedom to design the role – it is like a green space full of possibility. Of course, I coordinate with many people: Colleagues who know their subject very well, my steering committee which “controls” me, and the Executive Board and the Stihl family. There is also cooperation with external consultants and sharing of knowledge and ideas in networks outside the company.
What is STIHL’s current position on the topic of sustainability?
We are consistently and systematically doing our homework on it. There have been individual activities taking place for a long time, for example in the supply chains – focused on the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) – or in climate neutrality. We have also developed a sustainability strategy for ourselves that embeds these activities in an overall framework and in doing so offers a coherent and future-proof overall concept. We are gradually implementing this strategy. On some topics we are still very much at the starting point, while on others we have made relatively good progress. Sustainability is a very broad field with many different aspects.
Which projects have been completed?
We have completed the first introduction project on the topic of “sustainable supply chains” under the leadership of Sarah Kruner. This means that, alongside existing topics such as quality and delivery capacity, we have incorporated a “human and labor rights” dimension into the purchasing process and created the corresponding organizational structures. We have also developed a comprehensive code of conduct for suppliers. But that is only where the work begins: The process must be put into practice, and suppliers need to be informed, evaluated and possibly also further developed. This example shows how a company’s sustainability work is unlikely to ever be completed.
What major projects is STIHL currently working on?
We have a lot in mind in all three focus areas of the sustainability strategy, i.e. ecosystems, circularity and diligence. I would like to mention the long-term aim of climate neutrality here as an example. As a first step to achieving this, by 2030 we will only source clean green electricity and reduce our own carbon emissions by 40% . This is an ambitious project that is under way across the entire STIHL Group. We are also engaging with the circular economy. To this end, we are working on a recyclable product as well as on the possibilities of using secondary raw materials, i.e. recycled raw materials. In the “diligence” field of focus we want to concentrate on the frequency of accidents in the group. This must be further reduced. In addition, we want to develop concrete goals for STIHL on the topic of diversity – and implement them accordingly. Resilience. I like to try two things at this point: I outline the long-term goal and develop a feasible path toward it together with the department. Overall, I would emphasize the following: A timeline of several years is normal for sustainability issues.
Last but not least, what energizes you personally?
I like making plans. And if the first implementation steps are successful, that brings validation, momentum and encouragement to continue. I also take pleasure in small successes. One example of this is a garden plot (a “patch” really) that was completely overgrown when I took it on. I worked with a landscape architect to develop an overall concept that I am now implementing step by step – over the next ten to 20 years.
Thank you very much for talking to us Dr. Stock.