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Social engagement

Social projects with focus on water

As defined in its vision, Geberit wants to make a sustainable contribution to improving the quality of life for people. To this end, social aid projects in developing regions are supported with products, expertise and financial contributions. Care is taken to ensure that the topic of water plays a central role and that the projects exhibit a substantial relationship to Geberit’s core competencies and corporate culture. Geberit not only makes money and materials available, but also plans, manages and coordinates the projects with employees and – vitally important – also with apprentices from various locations. These projects are an important platform within our training philosophy and provide the young people with the opportunity to develop abilities and social skills that aid their personal development. At the same time, these social projects also contribute to the implementation of the Millennium Goal of the United Nations for global access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

Social engagement on-site around the world

In 2012, eight apprentices together with a supervisor and a technical advisor spent two weeks  renovating sanitary facilities at a school in a township in Port Elizabeth in South Africa. In playful workshops, they also equipped the some 850 schoolchildren with basic knowledge on the topic of hygiene and the economical use of water. During this project, the apprentices worked together for the first time with the so-called “Young Explorers” from the partner project “Pangaea” headed up by Mike Horn. This partnership between Horn and Geberit was launched in 2008 with the goal of using Horn’s four-year expedition around the globe to help raise awareness of environmental concerns worldwide. In 2012, Mike Horn and his sailing boat also stopped off in Abu Dhabi, where Geberit customers were given the opportunity to pay the expedition leader and his boat a visit and learn more about the project and its background.

In the reporting year, Geberit and Swiss WaterKiosk supported a pilot project in Bangladesh aimed at supplying the population with safe drinking water by means of a solar water pasteurization system. In Ordahat in the south of Bangladesh, people had been falling ill for years with unknown symptoms due to the ground water being contaminated with arsenic. The purification technology and the initiative for the project came from the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil-Jona in Switzerland. The goal is to construct ten solar water treatment systems, with the locals taking over responsibility for the operation of these installations so that they also benefit economically from the project.

Geberit has been working together with the Swiss development organization Helvetas for a number of years. The two partners are guided in their core business of water and sanitation by a joint vision – namely clean water and sanitary facilities for a better quality of life. Basic waste water systems and latrine construction – these are central needs in developing countries and regions for which Geberit cannot provide solutions with its own products. As a result, Geberit has been supporting a Helvetas campaign since 2010 with the goal of providing one million people in the world’s poorest regions with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation by the end of 2013. This goal had already been reached by the end of 2012, one year earlier than expected. Helvetas was able to raise CHF 23.7 million in donations during the reporting year, up 8% on the previous year. Spurred on by this success, Geberit and Helvetas want to provide a further 300,000 people with access to drinking water and sanitary facilities during the fourth year of the campaign. In addition, as part of a Christmas campaign, employee donations to Helvetas were doubled by the Company and Geberit’s Swiss sales company also contributed the sum it saved on complementary gifts to Helvetas on the customers’ behalf.

Furthermore, the Company became a member of the non-profit organization “Swiss Water Partnership” in 2012. The goal of this platform is to bring together all those involved in the topic of water supply (from academic, economic as well as public and private spheres) to collectively address future water challenges. This partnership also aims to promote the international dialogue on water.

Donations and financial contributions – including product donations – totaling CHF 2.7 million were made during the reporting year (previous year CHF 2.7 million). In addition, employees contributed 2,335 hours of charitable work as part of social projects (previous year 2,390 hours). All donations and related commitments are neutral from a party political point of view. Geberit also supported facilities for disabled persons and long-term unemployed, where simple installation and packaging work in the amount of around CHF 4.8 million was carried out in 2012 (previous year CHF 3.5 million). As a rule, no donations are made to parties or politicians, no political statements are made and no political lobbying is carried out. This is ensured globally as part of the annual audit of the Code of Conduct.