When selecting a provider, more and more customers are assessing not only the value add of its products or services, but also the social contribution that the company makes. Employees and job applicants also increasingly measure the attractiveness of an employer according to how it fulfils its responsibilities to society. Underpinning these considerations is often the positive feeling of deciding on the right company and strengthening it economically, whether it be through new contracts or through professional engagement. However, sober considerations also play a role: Companies that pursue their business activities in a responsible manner minimize their commercial risks as a result and are therefore more reliable, both as a provider as well as an employer. For this reason, more and more investors who are pondering investment decisions are also taking into consideration the societal value add that the investment object delivers.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations approved in 2015 are increasingly becoming the benchmark for this value contribution. These goals are intended for the international community of nations, but the goals of sustainable development are also relevant for the business community. A world without poverty and hunger, in which there is stability and peace and where sustainable development takes place, is not just easier to live in, but also offers a much better environment to be commercially successful in the long term.

The 17 development goals of the United Nations depict a better world – as well as an ideal market environment for companies that act responsibly.

The value contribution of Deutsche Post DHL Group, as Europe’s largest postal operator and the world’s biggest logistics company, is appraised and measured by customers, investors, employees and other stakeholders. In the process, these people increasingly refer back to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. As a longstanding partner of the UN, Deutsche Post DHL Group also strongly supports all SDGs, and we have set the course for sustainable development across our family of divisions with “Living Responsibility,” as part of our Corporate Strategy.

We connect people and improve lives - in line with our purpose, we are committed to the needs of our stakeholders and our planet, embrace sustainable solutions and aim to become the benchmark for responsible business. For this journey, we have selected focus SDGs, reflecting our company’s responsibility and best possible impact on solving sustainable development challenges: Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Action, Partnerships for the Goals.

However, with our core business activities we do not only support the five focus SDGs, but deliver a distinct benefit to society in different areas.

The so-called Impact Wheel shows the fields in which the economic core of the business impacts clearly defined societal benefit.

Healthcare: Access for all people

Perhaps most visible is the societal benefit of our logistics activities in the field of healthcare. Access to medical care is vitally important for the development of societies. Through our pharmaceutical logistics network, medicines reach the recipient safely and quickly. However, pharmaceutical logistics mean more than just the transport of medicine across the world, mostly through refrigerated logistics chains with permanent temperature monitoring by sensors. In order to fight pandemics, it is necessary to have an adequate supply of medicines in pharmaceutical storage facilities – this service is also provided by Deutsche Post DHL Group in logistics centers across the globe. In addition to that DPDHL group recently entered into a partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to help improve vaccine supply chains in Gavi-supported countries. Over the next three years, the new partnership will be vital to provide countries with efficient supply chain solutions to improve health care delivery. The security aspect should never be forgotten in the field of pharmaceutical logistics either. One countermeasure to prevent criminal attempts of all forms is therefore the full traceability of medicines through innovative identification technology.

Sensor technology in temperature monitoring and identification technology are just two examples of innovations that emerge in pharmaceutical logistics. Another innovation of Deutsche Post DHL Group is, for example, the development of a logistics network for clinical trial material. As part of a pilot project, we are continuing to test the delivery of medicines to inaccessible regions with the use of the DHL Parcelcopter, a drone specially constructed for this purpose.

Environmental protection: More than the reduction of emissions

Shaping logistics in a more sustainable way is a high priority for Deutsche Post DHL Group and is even part of its corporate strategy. Deutsche Post DHL Group is also considered a pioneer in the movement toward transforming the logistics sector into a low-carbon, and ultimately even carbon-free, industry.

As the world’s largest logistics service provider, we have a special obligation to minimize the negative impact of our business on the environment. By 2050 we want to reduce our transport-related emissions to zero as our contribution to the two-degree goal established at the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris (COP 21).

Given the necessity of slowing global warming to a minimum, the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions is a very important environmental goal. However, environmental protection isn’t just about CO2 alone. Through our electric-vehicle deliveries in cities, we reduce not only the emission of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, but also the noise levels in neighborhoods. With the StreetScooter, one of the e-vehicles we developed for more eco-friendly parcel deliveries, we even took our place among the automakers. After a successful pilot project for CO2-free delivery in our home city of Bonn, we have already switched over parcel deliveries to the purely electric-run StreetScooter in six major German cities.  In the coming year, we will build 10,000 of these vehicles and put them on the roads.

Envirosolutions, meaning solutions that promote the recycling economy, are another example of our environmental-protection activities. These solutions include the reverse logistics of old devices, as well as their reprocessing and recycling. These concepts protect natural resources and change the economy. The reparability of devices already plays a significant role in product development. For this reason, Envirosolutions can also have a positive effect on society. If we manage to reduce the cost of reprocessing, less affluent people can also afford to acquire valuable used devices.

Logistical infrastructures as drivers of societal development

People’s access to medical care and the transformation of logistics into a sustainable industry are issues of paramount importance that are related to the global development goals of the United Nations in various ways. However, this connection is strongest in normal day-to-day business. Deutsche Post DHL Group provides services that are indispensable for a modern society.

Through its cross-divisional function, the logistics sector enables an economy based on division of labor. Thanks to the global logistical infrastructures of Deutsche Post DHL Group, companies find customers all over the world, while consumers can source goods from all regions of the world. The logistics sector ensures that overcapacities in one region can balance out shortages in another. World trade leads to growth and prosperity – and a higher living standard. Logistics also promote the specialization of companies and entire economic regions, while also facilitating the emergence of innovative products.

However, this view of logistics also has a downside. Because the more important the logistics chains become for the functioning of societies and markets, the more serious the impact is when supply chains are disrupted by natural disasters and man-made interventions, or when they collapse entirely. In order to respond to these disruptions as quickly as possible, Deutsche Post DHL Group has developed a continuous risk-management platform for supply chains with its Resilience360 solution, which keeps customers informed, in near real time, about worldwide disruptions and dangers for their global supply chains. Resilience360 is used by customers in Asia, Europe and on the American continent. The platform is deployed most intensively by the automobile industry, followed by the chemical industry, life sciences and the technology sector. Interestingly, SOS Children’s Villages also uses the system. The aid organisation, which maintains 500 locations in 140 countries, can therefore respond faster and better to threatening situations and, for example, evacuate fosterlings and employees more quickly from crisis areas.

Societal benefit as an income source

The Impact Wheel of Deutsche Post DHL Group, which illustrates the connection between the economic core of the business and the special societal benefit, has many spokes. However, the focus is always on one thing: logistics. As a result, business and sustainability strategies overlap – and corporate responsibility isn’t a cost factor, but rather part of a business model from which everyone gains. The customers of Deutsche Post DHL Group benefit from a better service and receive support in achieving their own environmental and sustainability goals. Society benefits from efficient logistics services, from low environmental costs associated with logistics, and from supply chains that behave in a robust and stable way even in an emergency situation. Finally, Deutsche Post DHL Group also benefits from taking on corporate responsibility. Because a better world provides a better market environment from a business perspective as well.

Published: March 2017

Images: DHL