Sustainability Factbook 2022

05 People are precious to us

People are at the heart of everything. We are convinced that the human element is what creates impact, drives innovation, and fosters strong partnerships. These are essential for growth and sustainable transformation.

 

We prioritize the well-being and interests of the people in our company, in nearby communities, and along our value chain. This especially includes ensuring respect for human rights, fair working conditions, a safe and healthy work environment, living wages, and diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Targets and KPIs

Women

40%

IN Global Management Team
by 2025

Diversity begins at the top.
By 2025, the Global Management Team of Heraeus Precious Metals, including Argor-Heraeus, will consist of at least 40% women.

reduce work-related
incidents to

ZERO

Our ultimate objective is zero work-related incidents.
To achieve this target, we have numerous measures in place.

100%

of our mining partners with
targets, measures, and progress

We are expanding our activities from the workers in our value chain to include surrounding communities and environment. Our aim is to ensure that all our mining partners define concrete targets and measures and make progress.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I)

DE&I is essential to our identity and culture. We actively encourage different perspectives, put together diverse teams, provide equal opportunity, and insist on real cultural change toward a truly inclusive work environment. We believe that diversity makes us better—better at understanding our markets and customers, at generating business opportunities, and at being innovative. Consequently, we have made DE&I a top strategic issue.

Where we stand

Our workforce is spread across multiple locations. Our Mendrisio Headquarters, where the majority of production takes place, employs a total of 486 people including 63 temporary workers who support us during peak production periods. Our other locations employ 115 people in Hong Kong, China, 15 in Pforzheim, Germany, and 15 in Cavenago di Brianza, Italy, bringing our total workforce to 631 people worldwide.

We recognize the importance of diversity and gender equality in our industry and place particular emphasis on achieving a better gender balance. Globally, 29% of our employees are women. Although our sector is traditionally male-dominated, we actively promote female careers and ensure equal pay for all our employees.

 

This approach is in line with Heraeus Precious Metals’ target of 40% women in the Global Management Team by the end of 2025. The initial target for women in leadership positions was 35%. After exceeding this target in 2021, it was increased to 40% by the end of 2025. At the of end 2022, women accounted for 37% of Heraeus Precious Metals’ Global Management Team.

Employees

No Data Found

Diversity also has a qualitative aspect that cannot be measured by KPIs—atmosphere and culture. We therefore address the topic from several angles.

 

We promote individual initiative, communication, respect, and diversity – because we are convinced that they represent added value for the success of our company.

Employees by gender

No Data Found

Share of women within Global Management Team

No Data Found

Working conditions

Our employees worldwide are our most important asset. Their skills, knowledge, and dedication—as well as their diverse experience and personalities—shape our company and its success. We strive to offer attractive salaries as well as opportunities for development and are committed to providing a modern work environment in which all employees feel appreciated and can realize their full potential.

Where we stand

Establishing a shared culture and values within our company is strongly reflected and influenced by the tenure of our employees. We closely monitor two key indicators: tenure and turnover rate—the proportion of employees leaving our organization compared to the total workforce.

Overall, we have a reasonable turnover rate of 10%. However, we are aware that this rate varies widely from site to site. We are thoroughly investigating the reasons for high turnover rates to identify possible measures to reduce them.

 

We are committed to offering professional development opportunities to all employees throughout their careers. We invest in our future workforce by offering apprenticeship programs and work-study schemes, by accommodating individual needs and by jointly identifying development measures throughout each employee’s journey.

 

These initiatives are complemented by our longstanding talent programs, designed to enable talented employees to take on more responsibility and to fill key positions internally.

 

Environmentally friendly transportation is also a priority for us. We actively encourage our employees to choose greener modes of transport such as public transportation, slow mobility, and carpooling. We remained committed to supporting these alternatives, despite challenges posed by the pandemic. In 2022, we registered 43 carpooling groups and subsidized 62 public transport passes in Mendrisio, contributing not only to the well-being of our employees but also that of the wider local community. In Hong Kong, we subsidize public transport usage and offer corporate shuttle buses, resulting in less than 5% of employees relying on individual transport solutions with CO2 emissions.

Employee turnover

No Data Found

*Erbas figures not included

Health & Safety (H&S)

The health and safety of our employees are our top priority. We strive to ensure that everyone starts their workday in good health and finishes it without any harm or negative impact. Our certified health and safety (H&S) management systems and comprehensive policies give our organization a strong safety culture. Nevertheless, we continually work to make our operating facilities and offices even safer.

Where we stand

Our target leaves no room for interpretation: zero work-related incidents. Clear targets and rules, training and collaboration provide the foundation on which we continue to build with targeted actions.

 

All H&S incidents, including injuries, illnesses, process safety incidents, unsafe situations, and near misses are reported, analyzed, and addressed with corrective measures to prevent similar occurrences. We recognize that even one accident is one too many, and we strive to create a culture where safety is embedded in every aspect of our operations.

We continuously monitor key health and safety indicators. Our dedicated health and safety managers and working groups are responsible for implementing strategies to create a safe and healthy work environment. We make sure that our EHS team is always up-to-date by providing them with the latest training and qualifications. As a member of various associations, we regularly engage with our industry peers and share best practices.

 

We are certified according to ISO 45001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. These certifications reflect our commitment to effective management of safety, health, environment and quality in the workplace. We conduct regular audits to ensure that our business operations align with these standards. Among the safety-related key performance indicators that we monitor, we pay particular attention to the LTIR (lost time incident rate), which measures the
number of injuries per 1,000,000 hours worked.

 

While we acknowledge a negative trend in LTIR performance in recent years, this can be attributed to the influx of new employees and the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic. In 2022 we resumed our training activities after the pandemic-related interruption, focusing on essential aspects such as first aid, firefighting, emergency management and workplace responsibility. To ensure that we stay up to date with the most relevant topics, we also actively collaborate with external bodies and institutions such as the fire department, ambulance services and the police.

 

In Mendrisio we initiated a campaign which aimed to improve our mindset around safety culture. The focus topic in 2022 was hand protection. To emphasize its importance, we organized workshops and training sessions for all employees. We established this training format in collaboration with relevant authorities to ensure that safety measures are implemented effectively. We intend to continue this format with alternating topics in future years.

Lost time incident rate (LTIR) 2022*

*Including temporary workers

People in our value chain

Respect for human rights, protection of the environment, ethical practices, and transparency have been and will always be non negotiable core values of our company. We are aware of the significant impact our business has on people along our value chain and recognize our responsibility for their welfare. We systematically assess our precious metal suppliers’ social and environmental performance, particularly with regard to the protection of human rights.

Due Diligence

Human rights due diligence is an integral part of our general due diligence process. By fostering meaningful collaborations and taking concrete action, we strive to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of individuals within our value chain.

Our commitment to safeguarding human rights encompasses a range of measures:

Our efforts to protect human rights along our value chain are underpinned by internationally recognized
industry standards such as the Responsible Gold Guidance of the LBMA. We supplement these with our own stringent guidelines.

Collaborating with our mining partners

At Argor-Heraeus, we recognize that meaningful engagement with our stakeholders holds the key to improving the well-being of workers in our value chain and minimizing our impact on the environment and local communities. We firmly believe that collaboration is essential to creating a positive and lasting impact. With this in mind, we have developed a roadmap that sets clear milestones for transparency, improvement, and the evaluation of progress for our mining partnerships.

We aim to achieve full transparency on sustainability targets for all of our mining partners by 2024. By 2026 we strive to ensure that 80% of our mining partners have their own sustainability targets in place. Ultimately, we aim to have 100% of our mining partners establish sustainability targets, implement measures and track progress.

Initiatives in favor of artisanal and small-scale mines

We actively engage with the most vulnerable part of the precious metals supply chain—artisanal small and medium-sized mines (ASM).

ASM in the gold sector remains largely informal, making its workers particularly vulnerable. They often do not have access to guidance or resources for proper chemicals management, safety procedures, environmental management, labor rights and social protection.

ASM accounts for approximately 20% of the annual gold extracted worldwide and employs approximately 40 million miners. In total, it is estimated that the income and lives of around 100 million people depend on ASM*.

Gold from ASM mines will end up in the supply chain in any case. This is why ensuring responsible practices is crucial for secure and sustainable social development in the respective mining communities.
We acknowledge the complexities involved in formalizing ASM. However, we recognize that these efforts are necessary in order to enable these miners to access the official precious metals market and good market conditions. By enabling this access, we contribute to improving the living and working conditions of the many individuals who directly or indirectly depend on these mines.

Engaging with the ASM sector is an integral part in our pledge to become the most responsible precious metal refinery in the world. As a founding member of the Swiss Better Gold Association, we are committed to supporting the ASM Sector. As part of this commitment we offer Swiss Better Gold, Fairmined Gold and Fairtrade Gold to our customers, hence advocating for more sourcing from responsible ASM suppliers. In addition, we actively engage with these initiatives to help mines to phase out the use of mercury and improve working and living conditions by paying a premium.

*The International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2017

People in our communities

We are committed to cultivating relationships within our communities, fostering a positive reputation and supporting economic growth. Our contribution is a conscious choice to support local businesses and initiatives in various forms.

Our contribution to the community

We actively prioritize local suppliers, giving pre­ference to competitive businesses in the regions where we operate. Our philosophy is to prioritize local business partners, starting the search from the respective site and expanding outwards, respecting environment and sustainability considerations. This approach allows us to support local development and to build long-term relationships with partners, covering a range of services such as catering, chemicals, packaging tools, printing supplies as well as tools and equipment.

For instance, at our Mendrisio headquarters, over two-thirds of our expenditure on ancillary products and services in 2022 went to Swiss suppliers.

We support local groups and organizations through contributions, sponsorships, donations or ad hoc collaborations. This value cannot be expressed in monetary terms, as it often involves the investment of time and sharing knowledge. It is therefore not included in the figures.

Distribution of expenditures for suppliers of accessory products and services Mendrisio, Switzerland

No Data Found

Training and education
We are committed to offering professional development opportunities to all employees throughout their career. As a training company since 1978, we actively contribute to shaping the careers of young people pursuing opportunities in the industry. We collaborate with SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, to support educational pathways and provide valuable mentorship. As a testament to our com­mitment, we annually award a prize of 3,000 Swiss francs to the student who produces the best thesis in sustainable engineering.

Another noteworthy example of our well-established collaboration with SUPSI is our participation as guest lecturers to the CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) in Corporate Social Responsibility, a program designed for executives working in the field.

Distribution of economic added value
Economic success plays an important role in allowing us to invest in social responsibility initiatives, drive innovation and attract likeminded stakeholders. This is why we also report on the distribution of our economic success in the form of added value.*

Distribution of economic added value Mendrisio, Switzerland

No Data Found

*Added Value: value generated by a company’s operations, i.e., the difference between value of goods and services and the value of goods and services purchased for use in production processes.

Projects and initiatives

Erbas becomes part of Argor-Heraeus
In May 2022, Argor-Heraeus achieved a significant milestone by acquiring the renowned Swiss company Erbas. This strategic acquisition has not only propelled our company’s growth but also played a crucial role in securing numerous high-quality jobs in the Ticino region.

 

With the addition of Erbas, we gain new expertise allowing us to expand our product portfolio and to better meet the needs of our customers. Most importantly, this collaboration enhances the traceability of our final products along the value chain, ensuring transparency and delivering substantial benefits to our customers.

06 Guided by integrity

Our compliance and transparency standards are the foundation on which the trust of our employees and customers as well as other stakeholders is built. Earning and maintaining this trust is the basis for our success. It requires an unwavering commitment to integrity and good business practices.

 

We value long-term relationships over short-term profits and have always ensured that processes are transparent and auditable. Our approach to compliance has three aspects: prevent, detect, and respond. Our highest priority by far is prevention.