Taking responsibility

As an industrial corporation with international operations, GF is at the center of society. This means having to balance economic, environmental, and social considerations. In line with this responsibility, our industrial and social activities are set up to be long-term and sustainable.

Bearing responsibility

GF places a major emphasis on sustainable business management and responsible operations. Global compliance with standards and codes is as much a part of the company as the establishing of cross-divisional management systems. All production facilities are certified in accordance with ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series). New locations must become certified within three years. Energy-intensive production sites must also be certified in accordance with ISO 50001 (energy management). Currently, these are eight locations.

As a pioneer in the area of sustainability, GF has been systematically recording and analyzing its key environmental figures since 1997. The worldwide reporting system was expanded in 2005 to include social key figures and the Sustainability Information System (SIS) was enlarged. In 2015, the SIS was integrated into the financial reporting of the company.

To underscore the importance of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in the company, in 2015 GF became a member of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability network for companies and organizations.  

Sustainability targets

 As an international corporation  with operations in more than 30 countries, GF strives to embed the issue of sustainability in all its companies. The Executive Committee sets objectives every five years, and these are the central guidelines for implementing the economical, ecological, and social targets in the divisions.

The results of the 2011–2015 cycle and the objectives for the upcoming period to 2020 will be addressed in the next in-depth sustainability report that will be published in mid-2016. The reporting takes place annually and is based on the principles of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative).

Sustainability targets

The sustainability targets were defined by the Executive Committee and cover a period of five years (2011–2015). A Corporation-wide reporting system monitors compliance with these targets.

Economic Targets

  • Target: 8% EBIT margin
    Results 2015: From 7.2% to 8.1% in 2015. The abolishment of the peg of CHF 1.20 Swiss francs per euro had a negative impact on sales and EBIT. The 8–9% EBIT margin target defined in the Strategy 2011–2015 was achieved in the year under review.
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target achieved
  • Target: 16-20% Return on invested capital (ROIC)
    Results 2015:
    The return on invested capital of 18.9% in 2015 is one percentage point above the previous year’s level (17.9%). All three divisions contributed significantly to value generation and achieved returns twice as high as the cost of capital (WACC).
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target achieved
  • Target: Investment in growth markets
    Results 2015:
    GF has successfully increased its presence in Asia and America. GF Automotive has started a joint venture with  machining specialist Linamar to enter the US market; GF Machining Solutions  has entered the 3D printing business with EOS.
    Status as at 31 December 2015:
    Target achieved

Social Targets

  • Target: 15% Reduce accident rate
    Results 2015: The accident rate could continue to be reduced in 2015. This could be achieved by establishing global safety standards and by organizing targeted campaigns and trainings.
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target achieved
  • Target: 10% Reduce absence rate
    Results 2015:
    The absence rate in 2015 remained at around the same level as in the previous years.
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target not achieved yet
  • Target: 100% Introduce management system for occupational and health safety
    Results 2015:
    As per 31 December 2015 all production sites were certified. Newly established or acquired production sitesmust have obtained OHSAS 18001 certification after three years at the latest.
    Status as at 31 December 2015:
    Target achieved

Ecological Targets

  • Target: 10% Reduce the volume of waste in production
    Results 2015: The waste volume and hazardous waste are at a comparable level to the previous year.
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target not achieved yet
  • Target: 20% Reduce CO2 emissions from production
    Results 2015:
    Through the procurement of water electricity certificates the CO2 emissions could be reduced significantly. The substitution of oil with natural gas and electricity contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
    Status as at 31 December 2015: Target achieved
  • Target: 10% Increase energy-efficiency in production
    Results 2015:
    Energy efficiency in production could be further increased in 2015. Energy efficient machines as well as demand- based controls systems contributed to the rise in efficiency.
    Status as at 31 December 2015:
    Target achieved

Social aspects

Safety at work and health protection

In all our production facilities, occupational health and safety protection have the highest priority. The goal was to lower the accident rate throughout the Corporation by 15% by 2015. To achieve this goal, GF has established global standards, implemented campaigns to raise awareness, and organized specific trainings. Against this backdrop, new safety standards were defined and published for all locations worldwide.

Training and development of young talents 

Apprenticeships have a long-standing tradition at GF. There is a broad range of training opportunities spanning a variety of technical and commercial professions. In 2015, GF offered a total of 509 training positions, of which 203 were in Switzerland. GF also offers proven career entry routes through thesis projects and internships. In addition, GF collaborates on joint research and development projects with the key universities located in the main markets.

Management development and further education 

In 2015, approximately 70% of all open positions in senior man­agement at GF were filled with internal candidates. This is the result of the Group’s management development process, which has been very well established for some years now.

Training and education are a key focus of management development at GF. Training courses are designed and conducted by the GF Academy, which makes a significant contribution through its courses to the future of the company. In 2015, approximately 200 managers from throughout the world attended training courses at the Klostergut Paradies training center.

On the basis of a program by Franklin Covey, GF also implements initiatives throughout the Corporation on management issues and collaboration. The training units are for all employees of GF. In addition, the three divisions have their own training programs that are geared specifically to the operations of their businesses.

Pay and social benefits

In 2015 GF generated net added value of CHF 1.21 billion. About 77% of this amount was paid out as salaries to employees.

GF operates a modern and transparent remuneration system for employees, which is fair and non-discriminatory. Where appropriate, GF offers a performance-related variable component and allows employees to share in the success of the Corporation.  

Stakeholder dialog

GF maintains an intensive dialog with its external and internal stakeholders. Whether employees, clients, suppliers, representatives of universities and research centers, analysts, journalists, or representatives of NGOs – GF is in regular contact with various stakeholder groups.

The Corporation promotes an active, open, and prompt communication. And this communication is done appropriately in terms of the needs of the internal and external stakeholders. In addition to the Annual Report, Mid-Year Report, and Sustainability Report, Corporate news and events such as trade fairs, specialist symposia, and conferences are the main GF communication channels. In addition, the company has a major presence online and is active in Social Media. In 2015, GF boosted its internal communication by introducing a new intranet globally for all employees.

Environmental aspects

Reducing emissions 

The challenges of the future include climate change, the finite nature of fossil fuels, and a steep increase in the demand for energy. As a globally active industrial company with production sites in emerging markets, GF can make an important contribution in these areas. For this reason, GF set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from production by 20% by 2015. In 2013, GF generated about 713 000 tons of CO2 emissions, while in 2014 it was only 594 000 tons. This reduction was achieved in part through the use of new, environmentally friendly technologies, as well as by promoting sustainable energy projects and the use of CO2-neutral hydropower.

Energy efficiency

The consumption of energy represents, along with emissions, the greatest environmental burden. A few years ago, GF set itself the goal of increasing energy efficiency at all production sites globally by 10%. Specifically, all divisions are to make a contribution to systematically lowering energy consumption with their products, processes, and solutions. Detailed information can be found in the Sustainability Report 2015.  

Resource efficiency 

In addition to energy, other important resources are also becoming scarcer. Against this backdrop, GF places a high priority on processes for resource-efficient innovation (bionic design, eco-design, life cycle assessment, etc.). These processes help ensure that product-related sustainability and resource efficiency issues are taken into account as early as the development stage of new products. Developers take the product’s entire life cycle into consideration, from the selection of raw materials and suppliers to the production and customer’s use of the products to their reuse once their life cycle has expired.

In addition, GF is also emphasizing the reduction of waste in production in order to cut back on the use of resources. The wise consumption of resources plays as big a role as the recycling of industrial waste. GF Automotive, for example, uses around 500 000 tons of recycled material in its foundries annually. Detailed information on the environmental goals, activities, and key figures of GF are published in the Sustainability Report 2015.


Contributing to the common good

True to its fundamental values, GF promotes and supports cultural and social programs at its various corporate locations, as well as activities that contribute to the common good. In 2015, around CHF 2 million was spent at Corporation level on social involvement activities. In addition to this, some
30 GF companies support local activities, making substantial contributions.


The most significant contributions in 2015 went to GF’s three foundations: Klostergut Paradies, Iron Library, and Clean Water.

The Klostergut Paradies Foundation, with the former Clarissan convent as a heritage site, houses not only important collections, but it also serves as a training center for the Corporation. The Iron Library Foundation has the largest private collection of books on the subject of iron. Together with the Corporate archive, it is the center of competence for caring for the historical and cultural heritage of GF.

Through its Clean Water Foundation, GF has been supporting clean drinking water projects worldwide since 2002. To date, the Corporation has invested nearly CHF 9 million and has improved the lives of more than 250 000 people with a sustainably improved access to clean drinking water.

At the end of 2015, GF renewed its existing partnership with Caritas Switzerland, which has been in place since 2012, for another four years. In addition, GF again donated CHF 1 million to Caritas to help implement the aid organization’s clean water projects. Within the scope of the partnership, GF also provides know-how and technical expertise.

Clean Water

Awards and rankings

 In 2015, GF again received numerous awards and was given a positive rating by leading agencies. For example, the renowned company Oekom Research AG increased GF’s rating by one notch to C+. GF is now rated as a prime investment.

GF’s good position in the annual climate protection ranking of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is another indication that the Corporation is on the right path with respect to sustainability. In 2015, GF received an award as sector leader “industry,” placing it as one of the ten best industrial firms in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In addition, the independent Belgian agency Ethibel once again placed GF on its Ethibel Sustainability Index (ESI) Excellence Europe.

A professionally conducted stakeholder dialog is very important for GF. A testament to this is the high quality of the internal magazine “Globe,” which was named the best employee magazine in Switzerland in 2015 for the second year in a row. Another testament is the excellent rating that GF received in the best recruiter study. GF captured the top spot in Switzerland in the category of industry, and it was 10th out of the 500 largest companies in Switzerland.

Selection of further awards: GF Automotive won the first prize at the Newcast Award 2015 in the category “Best Substitution of another Production Process” with a console for a truck cabin suspension. In addition, for the third year in
a row, GF Automotive was awarded the Design Award of the International Magnesium Association in the category “Casting Component Design”. The winner was the seat back made of a magnesium die-cast for the Mercedes SLK. Not only are the products of GF Automotive winning awards, but the processes are, too. In 2015, for example, GF Automotive received for the first time the ABB Sustainability Award for Suppliers.

GF Machining Solutions received two awards in 2015 at CMIT, Asia’s largest trade fair for machine tools. The company was named one of the top 30 machine manufacturing companies, and the high-speed milling machine Mikron HEM 700U received a prize as one of the top 20 most innovative products.  

Distribution of net value added 2015 (in %)

(100% = CHF 1,21 billion)

Employees 2015 by region (in %)

(100% = 14 424)

Sustainability targets