What ESG (Environment + Social + Governance) means for the OHB Group

Interview with OHB Board Member Daniela Schmidt

Five questions for Daniela Schmidt, Board Member ESG, Security & Legal on the topic of sustainability.

As we all know, sustainability is a broad and wide field. Where does our focus on sustainability lie at OHB?

Daniela Schmidt: In truth, sustainability is an incredibly wide-reaching topic. With sustainability, we consider all three areas grouped under ESG: E = Environment, S = Social und G = Governance. For OHB we have made commitments to save resources and reduce emissions, to actively promote and implement innovative solutions to combat climate change, and to use outer space responsibly. Furthermore, we also commit ourselves to being socially responsible.
We place special focus on environmental aspects and thus, primarily on our energy consumption and our direct CO2 footprint. In this regard, it is important to us to also include our products in our sustainability strategy, as we are convinced that many of our products contribute to dealing with climate change on Earth. In addition, we are also committed to the responsible use of space; keywords Space Debris, in-Orbit Recycling, in-Orbit Services, etc.

What feedback do you get from the workforce?

We get many emails and we are also often approached personally. This is especially encouraging, since accomplishments can only be made with joint effort. We see what significance these issues have for many of us. The exchange is very important for us in order to bring together the many initial steps we have already taken on this topic and to be able to drive the issues forward in unison. There are already many good ideas, and we would like to integrate the topic even more into OHB’s daily routine so that sustainability is taken into consideration in as many places as possible. This is a process that will need time to mature but thrives from the combined support of many and the contribution of their ideas. I can only encourage everyone to make their own contribution to change.   

Ensuring more sustainability at OHB is an important and right thing to do. Nevertheless, some aspects will probably not be well received at first - for example, travelling by bus and train on business trips more often. Or, if certain suppliers cannot meet our sustainability requirements, and adequate replacements must be found and qualified. How engaged will you have to be to gain acceptance?

The interests of stakeholders are not always the same. For this reason, it is not easy to meet everyone's expectations. There are also many emotional issues. Business travel is one of them, but it is also a good example: with this topic, we have the environmental aspects in mind and at various points are working towards optimizing our travel behavior from the perspective of environmental protection. At the same time, regarding the social aspect, we are also particularly concerned about employer attractiveness. We are aware that a ban on air travel is not consistent with our tasks and that we do not want to and cannot work without travel.
The supplier issue is also indeed very complex. There are many new regulatory requirements affecting us in this area, which make our work more complicated. These require additional documentation in particular as a first step. However, we are trying to use this to our advantage and hope that we will gain new insights into optimization opportunities in the process. We are taking this step by step and in the end it may mean that we have to do things differently to how we have done in the past.

Please give a few different examples, i.e., large and small wheels that have already been set in motion at our sites or soon will be. And are there any that are the result of suggestions coming directly from the workforce?

The first thing we did was to purchase green electricity for our Bremen and Munich sites. The idea often came from the workforce. Our clean rooms are the reason for high electricity consumption at both sites. We use green electricity to promote the development of renewable energies. And we adapted the drinking water supply in Bremen to that in Oberpfaffenhofen to reduce the use of plastic bottles.
Last year, we acquired the Klima BahnCard for all interested employees to create an incentive for more travel by train. This suggestion came from our travel management.

A final personal question: What is your number one sustainability tip for everyday life?

I believe that sustainability begins in the mind, and I have found that we can all contribute to sustainability even with small things. This can be a business trip spared or a business trip by train, buying regionally produced fruit or selling/giving away things that are no longer needed on the relevant platforms.
My number one sustainability suggestion is to cycle to work. That way you can do something good for the environment and your health. As we all know, sustainability is a broad and wide field. Where does our focus on sustainability lie at OHB?