Siemens has had a long-standing focus on tackling sustainability head-on. Over the last couple of years, they have been on a journey of delivering real sustainable impact by working with their suppliers and partners towards their major ESG goals including achieving Net Zero by 2030.
‘Accelerate Together’, a multi-day virtual event that took place in May 2023, was a key tactic to inspire and drive change by Siemens Procurement, in partnership with their suppliers. The event focused their supply chain partners and the internal Siemens community on cementing the true value of collaboration while also providing a platform that aids Siemens’ partners to feel more aligned and engaged with their vision for sustainable growth.
Hosting ‘Accelerate Together’ in May 2023, the event saw a successful 86% attendee turnout, with representation from 73 unique supplier companies.
Spanning over 2 half days, day one focused on advocating and motivating suppliers to lean into issues around Decarbonisation, Social Value, and Equity; day two centred around driving action and accelerating impact around the same topics that were introduced during the first day.
Kickstarting the action on day two, attendees were joined by Carl Ennis (CEO, Siemens GB & Ireland) in a fireside chat with Caitlyn Lewis (CEO, Supplier Day), speaking from the perspective of Siemens Leadership to address key questions including:
- What Siemens leadership is doing to advance sustainability
- What Siemens leadership expects from suppliers
- And what Siemens leadership will be focusing on in the future
Here are 3 main takeaways from the session:
1) Acceleration and Collaboration
Diving straight into the vast and strong portfolio Siemens has, ranging from utilities and transport to higher education and healthcare, Carl Ennis expressed the “lucky position” that Siemens finds itself in, whereby much of their portfolio is naturally aimed at helping customers on their journey to a sustainable future.
So when it came to speaking on how to collaborate, he was quick to clarify that it is all about accelerating together, referencing the event’s name and core purpose of working with their supply partners to inspire collaboration and drive accelerated change.
“It’s Accelerate Together and for me, it’s about the ‘Together’” – Carl Ennis
In a moment of candidness, Carl spoke about how “we’ve [Siemens] not always done that brilliantly”, and that previously, they had used collaboration as a negative tactic to achieve their goal. However, over time, Carl experienced the realisation that while Siemens “are good at a lot of stuff”, in some aspects there are other people/suppliers who are simply better than them. Carl spoke about identifying those sweet spots in which Siemens can be good on their own, but by leveraging their supplier expertise, they can achieve even far more, far quicker.
“We can be good on our own, but we can be absolutely great together” – Carl Ennis
When entering new markets, “suppliers and partners can do more than bring products to the table, they can bring market insights and industry expertise”, spoke Carl as he listed the benefits of working with suppliers, allowing Siemens to gain a significant edge in the market thus differentiate themselves from their competition. This is something that Siemens has already put into practice via their ‘Xcelerator’ programme that works to build an ecosystem wherein Siemens can collaborate and work with their suppliers, big or small, to help deliver the best outcome for their customers.
Caitlyn Lewis mirrored Carl’s sentiments, stating, “You cannot collaborate everywhere”. According to Caitlyn, Siemens needs to identify which projects are essential for them to focus on in order to create the biggest impact – essentially highlighting the importance of capability building.
While Siemens are scoping their supply chain and supplier value, it is important for them to identify the areas in which they are weak and align themselves with suppliers that hold stronger capabilities in order to bring that strength in. Similarly, Siemens has a responsibility to help their supply partners in areas where they have weaker capabilities to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem.
“You can’t do it all” – Caitlyn Lewis
2) Leadership and KPIs
Siemens is a global organisation, so when it comes to placing measurable targets and setting KPIs, it makes sense for it to be done globally as well. By doing so, the business is held accountable to its targets, influencing a significant aspect of Siemens’ decision-making processes to ensure that sustainability remains at the forefront of any major changes.
Similarly, by articulating those measures to the market, Siemens not only has to set impactful targets, they are held accountable by the market and their customers.
“This is actually setting the targets and sticking it out there really loud and proud” – Carl Ennis
Speaking on how to kickstart such a process, Carl exclaimed the need to “really set an ambitious target”, which challenges large organisations on their priorities and goals, and then “make it visible” so that you cannot hide it or from it.
Secondly, Carl mentioned the need for employing good management who can effectively “determine what not to do”. Anyone can make large claims but good management is conscious of the decisions that need to be made to ensure an organisation is achieving their KPIs.
“Management is about making those tough decisions about what to stop so that you can focus on the things that make a difference” – Carl Ennis
According to Carl, Siemens has been applying this framework towards their sustainability directives to ensure they are working with suppliers and businesses that support their portfolio and are on track – or aim to be – towards a more sustainable future. Leveraging their ‘Sustainability Radar’, Siemens are able to determine which customer’s ethics and sustainability ethos are aligned with Siemens’, allowing them to either reinforce their relationship or, alternatively, walk away from business that would hinder Siemens from achieving their goals.
“For an organisation to say no to an opportunity, I think that is a good measure of how seriously we [Siemens] take this whole topic”, Carl stated, further adding that sustainability “is at the cornerstone on what we need to do”, making it “an inherent thought process” that can cascade through the organisation and is not left in the hands of a select few.
3) Businesses, Customers, and Suppliers
Businesses play a pivotal role in the transition towards a more sustainable future. Referencing Siemens’ history and its involvement in industries that have previously contributed negatively towards carbon emissions, Carl affirmed the importance for businesses across the country to take responsibility for any negative impacts they may have caused and strive to implement practical and positive sustainable solutions.
To achieve this, customers, no matter how big or small they may be, need to incite conversations around value rather than cost. Revealing the internal carbon pricing that Siemens has implemented internally, Carl acknowledged that by charging themselves for the cost of carbon, Siemens is able to raise business cases easily for other sustainable projects within the organisation.
“We do have to move to value and the value of impact” – Carl Ennis
When addressing what Siemens is asking from their suppliers, Carl was straightforward in mentioning their desire to be challenged. Comparing Siemens to a supertanker in size and speed, Carl spoke of how being a large organisation has the downfall of being slow and difficult in implementing change. Instead, he asked for suppliers to “please challenge us” as it “reminded them [Siemens] of the importance of going faster”.
“[With] decarbonisation there is no winner and a loser. We’re all winners, or all losers” – Carl Ennis
With everyone embarking on their journey to decarbonisation, Siemens is extending “an ask and an offer” to all their suppliers to encourage the exchange of resources, expertise and innovation. By doing so Siemens Procurement is reaching out an arm in friendship so that together they might accelerate towards a more sustainable future.