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Mirrors and Bridges...

Corporate Social Responsibility at Philips


With the EcoVision5 program, Philips has formulated highly ambitious objectives for its global group of companies. Raising sustainability higher and higher on the agenda requires a constant effort. Robert Metzke, responsible for this program, explains.

What does Corporate Social Responsibility look like at Philips?
“We are eager to take on global challenges and focus on the areas of health, energy and materials. We are applying our technology to improve the quality of health care and to lower costs. As well as medical inventions, we are also involved in prevention, at-home treatment and monitoring. We have also taken into account the energy efficiency of our products and our processes for many years. In the Philips group’s EcoVision5 program we have set ourselves three goals for 2015: to provide care solutions to over 500 million people, to improve the average energy efficiency of all of our products by 50%, and to close material cycles by doubling recycling and using recycled materials in products. In addition, 50% of our total income must be generated from green products, and we are investing two billion Euros in green innovations. This provides inspiration to our staff members as well as our customers. In order to gain ownership of a vision, the trick is to translate the vision into bite-size chunks, so that it becomes known and is seen as being relevant: ‘Where and how can you contribute?’ ”

Do employees get the opportunity to be enterprising in this respect?
“Innovation is very important to us and affects every department within Philips. Since 1993, we have had an EcoDesign program for our product development, and our Research Department evaluates all research products on their contribution to sustainable development. Innovation is not just the development of technology, but also requires a change in behavior from customers and demands new earning models. This creates scope for Philips employees to be entrepreneurs themselves. Good examples are offering Light as a service instead of selling lamps, or funding energy-saving light bulbs with CO2 certificates in developing countries. On the production work floor as well, everyone who contributes ideas to improve processes or quality in production is also noticed. If it is a good proposal, it is implemented at plant level first, then nationally and then internationally. For example, employees in Roosendaal worked out a whole program to save energy by using compressed air efficiently. We are also eager to contribute to social sustainability. One of our international employee programs is ‘Simply Healthy at Schools,’ in which Philips employees visit schools to provide information on healthy living: getting enough exercise, good food and hygiene. And when school is out, the Philips employees provide energy-efficient lighting at Philips’ expense. These projects can be found everywhere, from Amsterdam to Indonesia.”

What do you want to achieve?
“Since becoming a parent myself, I have become even more conscious of the need for sustainability. One day there will be nine billion of us living on this planet, and the natural resources won’t be enough to support us all if we don’t do something about it now. My job is to make sure that Philips continues to innovate sustainably worldwide and to sharpen the company’s focus on the horizon. To point out what is relevant and what is not. I make sure that concrete steps are taken. I spend a lot of time communicating with all the different levels within Philips, facilitating self-reflection and building bridges. We want to keep developing new insights in order to be able to apply them. It is great to work on sustainable innovations together with other companies. Sustainable Road Forward, in which Philips participates with other companies, provides this opportunity, and is a unique development environment for the people who take part in the process. Philips is number one in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and is one of the most sustainable brands in the world. I’m really proud of that!”

Jolanda van der Veen, Program Director (


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