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Good corporate governance, society & climate change

The coronavirus is understandably dominating headlines. By contrast, other similarly important topics have often faded into the background. For Symrise, the handling of the pandemic was also the focus in many areas. Nevertheless, the company launched a number of important and sustainable projects in the previous year that are having an impact both internally and externally. Here are just a few.

Improving Occupational safety

It’s very clear in principle: Symrise acts forcefully to ensure that all employees can do their jobs without getting hurt. Occupational safety is an essential component of the sustainability and corporate strategy at Symrise, and the company takes extensive measures to ensure it. Facilities are safe; forklifts and trucks observe the highest possible safety standards; hazardous substances are stored so that no one comes into contact with them; colleagues have been briefed and are trained on an ongoing basis. Nevertheless, accidents that pose danger to life and limb happen here – like they do at every company. For the employees who suffer them, they represent considerable, sometimes permanent, health damage.

Yet nearly all accidents could be avoided, says Jessica Hildebrandt, Director Corporate Communications. “Most of them are related to behavior. With this campaign, we want to increase employee awareness of safety. The goal is for them to intuitively recognize potential sources of danger and to react safely,” explains the new occupational safety campaign’s project leader. This includes supposedly small things that everyone has done at some point, like crossing the road at the plant while talking on the phone or running too fast down the stairs without using the handrail.

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For this reason, Symrise has launched the comprehensive “Drive to 100 % Safety” campaign in Holzminden, the company’s headquarters. The campaign is a pilot project of subsidiary TESIUM and will be rolled out in other areas of the company in 2021. “First, we carried out a comprehensive analysis. To do so, we interviewed a number of managers and employees and analyzed the data so we could even begin to categorize the demand,” says Hildebrandt in describing the project, which is vital for the company.

Next, the team developed a campaign that is designed to present employees with an emotional depiction of the importance of observing safety regulations and acting thoughtfully. Clay figures take center stage, visualizing potential dangers in an amusing way without trivializing them. The imagery, which is used in all analog and digital media, email banners, newsletters, posters, brochures, and in the Symportal community, is clearly defined and understandable all over the world. “In addition, we have defined key figures for occupational safety, which we will evaluate and analyze on an ongoing basis,” says Hildebrandt. “Through the commitment of our managers and employees, we will reduce the number of accidents in the medium term.”

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Jessica Hildebrandt, Director Corporate Communications

Promoting Sustainability

“Missing: Plastic cups. Searching is futile,” is written in big letters on the poster hanging in a hallway in the Symrise headquarters in Holzminden. Below, in smaller letters, is the explanation. From July 3, 2021, the EU will prohibit many disposable plastic items. One way in which Symrise supports this effort is by replacing almost all plastic cups in quality control with compostable cups made of recycled material. This initiative can reduce waste by approximately 300,000 plastic cups every year.

The poster is part of a sustainability campaign that Symrise launched at its sites in early 2021. “We’re doing this to direct the attention of our employees to this complex topic in a light manner,” says Sabine Rieke, Quality Control Sensory Flavor, who designed the campaign. “We want to inspire them to conserve resources more effectively and act more responsibly.” There are currently six versions in addition to the plastic motif; in humorous ways, they announce that Symrise is banning disposable packaging in its cafeteria, and that the Oral Care department replaced plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones starting in 2020, for example. By contrast, other posters promote behavioral changes. For instance, they point out that there are alternatives to liquid shampoo, and that reducing one’s consumption of meat by half can save large amounts of water and reduce CO2 emissions.

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According to Friedrich-Wilhelm Micus, who is responsible for sustainability communication within the company, the medium-term goal is to get the employees across the entire Group to participate. “Our sustainability approach pursues clear strategic goals, which we want to communicate not only externally but also internally.” To achieve this, not just the posters but all internal media will be utilized, including the Team Spirit employee magazine and digital channels. The focus will always be on motivating the employees to participate, says Micus. “We will only be able to tackle the great tasks presented by climate change by acting together.”

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Developing Responsibility

The girls and boys plant seedlings in flowerpots, clear weeds from raised flower beds, and try to come up with a name together for the plant that is blossoming so beautifully. It is loud here in the day care center of the Centro de Atendimento a Meninos e Meninas (CAMM for short) in the Brazilian city of Recife: The children are happy and eager to see the fruits of their labor. Bananas, acerola, pineapples, mint, parsley, rosemary, and countless more types of fruit, vegetables and herbs will grow here and be harvested when the time comes.

The gardening project in the city’s low-income district is one of many that the NGO provides for approximately 100 street children. Approximately half of them visit CAMM’s day care center, the only one in the community. Since 2020, the Symrise Cosmetic Ingredients business unit has supported the project, which hopes to help the children find an alternative to living on the street. For example, an environmental educator will teach them about recycling and cultivation in a workshop.

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"The earlier we begin working with the youngest ones, the more likely they are to develop in a healthy and positive way,” says Symrise brand ambassador Domitila Barros, who herself grew up in a favela in Recife. As a global brand ambassador for CAMM, she advocates in many places for Brazil’s street children. For example, her sustainable beach fashion and eco-friendly jewelry label collaborates with local craftswomen from Brazil, many of whom are single mothers who have lost their husbands to violence and crime. “Our project helps kids be kids again,” says Domitila. “We’re delighted that we are able to expand the CAMM garden together with Symrise. The kids learn so much about our environment and are developing a sense of responsibility – also for our planet.”

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