Message from the shareholders
2011 was a successful year that brought many changes for the Schaeffler Group. The most [--break--] visible change was the conversion of Schaeffler GmbH to Schaeffler AG on October 13, 2011. [--break--] This move provides us with more entrepreneurial flexibility and opens up additional [--break--] strategic options.
The consistent development of the Schaeffler Group is characterized by the sense of responsibility and passion driving us as shareholders in our continuing commitment to our company. Maintaining the advantages and the spirit of our family-owned company now that it is a stock corporation is important to us. To us, values such as tradition, continuity, thinking and acting [--break--] long-term, commitment to each other and loyalty are the foundation for the lasting sustainable success of the company. We firmly believe that the values we live by give us a significant competitive advantage in today’s increasingly fast moving world. Continuity in management personnel, which characterizes our company and benefits the well-being of our more than 70,000 employees worldwide, demonstrates this fundamental belief.
Under a long-term strategy, the Schaeffler Group has been put in the hands of a responsible executive board that is committed to a comprehensive worldwide code of conduct aimed at a culture of sustainability. The executive board is responsible for enforcing the code of conduct. As a result, our company, its employees and all of its suppliers are committed to complying [--break--] with high social, ecological and employment standards. Our code of conduct is based on the principles of the “ Global Compact”, “Corporate Social Responsibility” according to Sullivan, and the standards of “Social Accountability International”. All production locations around the globe maintain an exemplary environmental management system that also involves our suppliers and all other business partners, and is being improved on an ongoing basis. It ensures that local environmental legislation is complied with and that its requirements are often exceeded.
A company is only as good as the performance of its people. That is why we consider developing our employees to be the most important investment in the Schaeffler Group’s future. We emphasize development of not only technical but also social and methodical skills. We expect [--break--] all employees to feel personally responsible for complying with the code of conduct and to also support their colleagues and our business partners in complying with it.
We are living up to this ambition by having an excellent ratio of trainees to employees, participating in practice-oriented degree programs, maintaining close relationships with universities and research institutions, and offering a wide range of opportunities for continuing professional education. Schaeffler has geared all of these opportunities worldwide to the needs of each location. Our plant in Irapuato, Mexico, for instance, provides young people with a vocational training program that meets the standards of the German Chamber of Commerce (“Industrie- und Handelskammer” – IHK). Investing in our employees’ skills ensures maximum quality which is an absolute necessity in all our processes and products.
Since we are a family-owned company, measures to increase the satisfaction, motivation and performance of our staff are important to us. In light of this, we held a large staff party in Herzogenaurach on September 11, 2011, themed “We at Schaeffler” and attended by approximately 30,000 visitors. Another staff day in Buehl on September 25, 2011 was also very well attended.
This good response is a sign of the special commitment and mutual appreciation between shareholders, management, and staff that is demonstrated at the company’s traditional events. During [--break--] the year, we again celebrated a large number of employee anniversaries at many locations. For many years, these employees have helped make our company what it is today: A global, dynamic and successful technology company that is well-positioned worldwide.
Commitment to the arts and to society is also at the core of what we do. One example is the former “Fortuna Schuhfabrik” (“Fortuna Shoe Factory”) in Hoechstadt, which we helped give a second lease on life as an arts center. Also, the FAG Foundation awards the Innovation Award for excellence to junior engineers and supports science and technical projects at schools in the region. In addition, our “Schaeffler Green Wind Energy” foundation, together with the Chinese wind power association CWEA, recognizes research on wind power. We accepted the recognition we received for our activities in this area, such as the EcoGlobe Award, on behalf of our employees.
We would like to sincerely thank our employees and the members of the executive board and the management of our subsidiaries for the extraordinary dedication and loyalty to our company during the past year. Together, we are creating a successful future for the Schaeffler Group.
Georg F. W. Schaeffler