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CHAMBER COLUMN

Are firms pursuing eco–friendly ways?

EMBRACING green or environmentally sound practices has led many companies to pursue environmentally sustainable goals and to raise awareness among their employees, as well as to cut costs. Diana Karaffová, spokesperson of Deloitte in Slovakia, and Lucia Muthová, spokesperson of Allianz – Slovenská Poisťovňa shared their views on environmental friendly policies.

EMBRACING green or environmentally sound practices has led many companies to pursue environmentally sustainable goals and to raise awareness among their employees, as well as to cut costs. Diana Karaffová, spokesperson of Deloitte in Slovakia, and Lucia Muthová, spokesperson of Allianz – Slovenská Poisťovňa shared their views on environmental friendly policies.

What green-policy measures has your company already introduced, or is planning to introduce? From where have you drawn inspiration for these measures?

Diana Karaffová (DK): Our strategy for environmental issues is to focus on and improve three main areas: (1) passion for environmental matters, (2) ensuring our employees are informed and educated on environmental issues and (3) to be known as an environmentally friendly organisation.

The first area involves behaving in an environmentally friendly manner, not only on Deloitte’s premises, but also on the premises of our clients; to adhere to measures which impede environmental pollution and promote environmental protection on an ongoing basis; to separate waste thoroughly and consistently; to recycle paper reflecting the confidential nature of certain materials; to economise on resources (water and electricity); to check emissions of company cars and/or cars used for business on a regular basis; and to seek opportunities to improve environmental protection.

With regards to the second area, which seeks to inform and educate our employees on environmental issues, we will inform via internal campaigns, memorandums, informational e-mails, etc.; educate via internal training; and support activities in the area of environmental protection among employees. Deloitte aims to strengthen its perception in the media as a company that cares about protecting the environment, to propagate the ideas of environmental protection via Deloitte staff and publicly present compliance with requirements under the European standard ISO 14001:2004, which will demonstrate our interest in environmental issues.

Lucia Muthová (LM): Allianz – SP is constantly improving products and services in an effort to protect the environment, and labels such products and services with the ECO logo. This logo also occurs in the signature of e-mail communications as a warning so as to avoid wasting paper when printing electronic documents.

Allianz also provides a service of electronic correspondence. The client receives the documents in his or her electronic mail and the service secures a fast and ecological way of virtual communication between the insurer and its clients. This service is free for the client. The use of the intranet is also ecological in that it prevents sales representatives from printing out all of the needed documents, but they can conduct their entire communication with the clients in a simple and convenient way – electronically and ecologically.

Apart from this the insurer actively separates waste and collects waste paper and batteries. It also encourages employees to save electricity by placing warnings next to light switches. Employees are also ordered to switch off computers when leaving the office. The motivation to introduce such measures stems from several sources but primarily it is a feeling of responsibility for the environment. Allianz – SP draws ideas not only from its parent company – its own employees also come up with proposals.

What expenses have been linked with the introduction of these measures?
DK: It is a global initiative based on a long-term period; therefore it is hard to talk about the exact costs.
LM: Costs of measures that meet ecological parameters are, in our company, either very low or non-existent. Some of the measures, for example the use of electronic correspondence, cut cost and thus are also economically beneficial for our company. This is valid also for efforts to save paper or electricity.

What benefits, financial or otherwise, have these measures already brought or do you expect will bring in the long run?
DK:
Deloitte seeks to create a culture and environment which encourages staff to actively seek opportunities for performance improvement in processes and activities. They are encouraged to report to the local office manager any suggestions or problems that they feel may have an impact on the environment. Deloitte strategic planning and environmental policy provide a framework for the setting of environmental objectives leading to the improvement of Deloitte’s performance. The environmental objectives are consistent with environmental policy and are measured in order to facilitate an effective and efficient systematic review and are established particularly for each relevant location.

LM: The primary objective is to behave responsibly. From this objective then stem several financial and non-financial benefits. The financial ones definitively include saving total operating costs. Non-financial [benefits] involve the general speeding up of the processes or improvement of services for clients. One should not forget the improvement of the image of the company in the eyes of clients, as well as employees themselves or the feelings of responsibility for the environment which are instilled in the employees over the long term.


This column is prepared in cooperation with AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia. www.amcham.sk The questions were prepared by The Slovak Spectator.

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