Sustainability at Schneider Electric

Business Review Asia speaks to Damien Dhellemmes, Country President for Singapore at Schneider Electric. We discuss everything from company ethics and sustainability, to its expansion and the allure of Singapore

1. What does it mean for Schneider to be recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies for the seventh consecutive year?

“The World’s Most Ethical Companies list has been published annually by the Ethisphere Institute since 2007. It honours companies that excel in three areas: promoting ethical business standards and practices internally, enabling managers and employees to make good choices, and shaping future industry standards by introducing tomorrow’s best practices today.

“Since 2011, Schneider Electric has appeared every year in the World’s Most Ethical Companies list and in 2017, Schneider Electric is one of the only two companies honoured in the “Diversified Machinery” category. It proves that Schneider Electric considers ethical challenges very thoroughly and addresses them with impact and efficiency, in line with our corporate values.”

2. How do your employees embody your ethical values?

“At Schneider Electric, we see ethics and good governance as two of the key drivers of our growth and competitiveness. They are managed through our Principles of Responsibility, a set of guidelines designed to provide the Group’s employees with a framework for responsible behaviour. This document was formulated in line with the company’s principles of governance, the 10 Principles of the Global Compact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international labour standards. Our Principles of Responsibility have been translated into 30 languages and sent to all Group employees.

“The “Responsibility & Ethics Dynamics” programme also helps Schneider Electric employees to manage any ethical issues that may arise. The programme is regularly communicated and audited internally, and serves as an indicator of ethical performance in the Planet & Society Barometer, the company’s sustainability scorecard since 2015.”

4. What are your current sustainability goals for the next year? How about the next five?

“Schneider Electric has made 10 commitments for sustainability aligned with the Planet & Society barometer, Schneider Electric's sustainability scorecard since 2005. These commitments are in line with the two-degree trajectory and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“At Schneider Electric, we build energy management and automation technologies that ensure life is ‘on’ everywhere, for everyone and at every moment. We’re facing a critical point of transition for the industry, in which the business and societal landscape are being transformed by urbanisation, digitisation and industrialisation.

“Building on Schneider Electric’s long experience in sustainability, we are leveraging the company’s technologies and solutions to achieve our COP21 commitments by 2030. We want to build an ecosystem that helps customers reduce their own energy consumption by 30 per cent through active energy efficiency and sustainability solutions. We also want to offer products and solutions that provide clean and affordable energy.

5. What Asian markets are you present in?

We are currently present in 13 markets across the East Asia region, including the “ASEAN 10”: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and The Philippines, as well as Mongolia, South Korea and Taiwan.

6. Do you have any expansion plans in Asia?

“Asia Pacific is now our second largest region and contributed 27 per cent of Schneider Electric’s global revenue for Financial Year 2016.

“In 2015, Schneider Electric announced 65 million euros (S$102 million) worth of new investments in Singapore. From a technology perspective, the investment comes at a time when Asia is going through unprecedented growth in technology adoption and connectivity, driven by smart urbanisation, industrial automation and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Schneider Electric’s investment in this region helps governments and industries leverage new technologies to achieve efficiencies – most importantly energy efficiencies. Reliable and safe energy is a cornerstone to sustainable urbanisation and it plays a key role in the quality of the lives of urban dwellers. With our investments, Schneider Electric is establishing a Software Industry Solutions Centre and a Software Regional Hub that will support organisations in Singapore and around the region with energy management, automation and software technologies.

“We are excited because this is a real opportunity for Schneider Electric to help chemicals, food and beverage, mining and metals, oil and gas, transportation, water and waste water, and utilities companies leverage technology to enhance productivity and safety while making sure that they remain sustainable in their business activities.

“Scientists and engineers at our Software Industry Solutions Centre will also work with industry players to develop and deliver customised software solutions to help solve industrial companies’ most critical issues. This is a crucial step we are taking to help organisations capitalise on the future of manufacturing in the age of Industry 4.0 and it is also symbolic of Asia as the centre of growth in industrial controls and automation.

7. What are the specific sustainability/ethics challenges that Asian markets present?

“We have seen a variety of sustainability challenges in different markets in Asia. For Singapore, one of the key challenges is to achieve productivity growth while improving energy efficiency.

“As the world of energy is transforming, with the convergence of IT and energy technologies, Schneider Electric believes that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next frontier for organisations to achieve efficiencies and meet their sustainability goals. In fact, IoT will unleash a wave of automation that makes sustainability more easily attainable than before.

“For instance, software downloaded on smart devices can switch appliances and lights on and off automatically when they sense the presence of people. These machines, appliances, devices and software form the ecosystem of the IoT – where software and hardware speak to each other through the Internet – can make urban systems more efficient; including water, transportation systems, gas, electrical networks, which is a huge part of energy consumption.

“Further, the electrical systems of buildings, as well as data centres that host the smart infrastructure, can be connected to smart grids, which can detect the power usage in a neighbourhood, district or city and redirect the power to where it is needed the most from areas where it is not used.

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