In this issue, we focus on Women in Leadership. At a time when companies are facing the simultaneous challenges of post-pandemic recovery and climate change transition, female leadership is even more important than ever for the different perspectives and skills women can bring to the table. We interviewed several female executives in and outside of Prysmian Group for their views on managing transformation, the benefits of diversity, and their plans for the future.
Setting science-based climate change targets is the natural evolution of a focus on long-term goals, says new Chief Sustainability Officer Maria Cristina Bifulco in an interview
In order to further sharpen its focus on sustainability, Prysmian Group has appointed Maria Cristina Bifulco as Chief Sustainability Officer, who will play a key role in driving the Group’s ESG strategic planning and priorities.
“We can see our business is headed in this direction, and every function the company had already started working on sustainability – the machine was already on. The goal is to indicate priorities, and introduce methods and technology,” says Bifulco.
Forty percent of Prysmian’s investors are ESG, and they continue to ask for active engagement of management and board, she says. Bifulco’s appointment coincides with Prysmian Group’s decision to intensify its climate change commitments by setting science-based targets, as called for by the Paris Agreement COP 21, to achieve “net zero” emissions between 2035 and 2040 for its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) and by 2050 for emissions generated by the value chain (Scope 3).
CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
Prysmian has signed the Business Ambition letter committing itself to work towards containing the world’s temperature increase to 1.5 C compared to preindustrial levels. The Group has pledged to invest approximately €10 million per year over the next ten years to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions at its 106 plants by 46% from the 2019 level.
“We are leaders in the sector of renewables and energy transition,” she says. “And as an enabler we have to be an example.”
Bifulco is leading the Sustainability Steering Committee, which is responsible for developing, designing and implementing ESG policies and targets; effectively managing resources; and monitoring sustainability activities across regions, business units and corporate functions. This Committee has just been reappointed with members from Human Resources, R&D, Digital Innovation, Purchasing and all other functions within the company.
It will work closely with the board-level ESG Committee (where Bifulco is Secretary), which is in charge of setting guidelines and procedures tointegrate sustainability into the business model to submit for board approval. Bifulco says her goal is to further increase the sensibility of the board and management on sustainability topics, indicating strategic priorities and to facilitate their implementation into action plans in the business sphere.
Setting a science-based target entails working the non-profit organization the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) in a five-step process, receiving detailed feedback and support from the SBTi’s technical experts.
The first step is to submit a detailed plain of how to achieve the emissions reduction. Bifulco is currently drawing up Prysmian Group’s action plan for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emission at its sites, namely the Milan HQ, its 104 plants and 25 R&D centers, to be approved during the second or third quarter of 2021.
“We did a benchmark to see what our sector looked like, and we are among the best practices,” she says. “There are not a lot of cable makers or companies in this sector that have made such a rigorous choice.”
Prysmian is accustomed to setting long term targets for its management, be they for emissions reduction, waste recycling or diversity and inclusion, Bifulco pointed out.
“Just like we want to have an active role in the energy transition, we want to have and must have an active role in the social transition. We must do our part. And do it with concrete actions. Because I really hope that in 2030, Diversity & Inclusion is no longer a topic.”
Prysmian aims to have up to 18% of its management comprised of women in 2022, up from 13% in 2020.
PRYSMIAN GROUP'S BUSINESS AMBITION LETTER
Prysmian Group has set concrete targets for 2022 monitored by a “Scorecard” based on the United Nations Sustainability Goals, and progress towards reaching them has been recognized by a demonstrable improvement in ESG ratings. Its 2022 targets call for recycling of 64%-66% of waste, as well as targets for social and community involvement and for employees’ health and safety.
To achieve these targets, in 2020 the Group has already announced investment totalling €450 million by 2022 in order to improve further the sustainability of its organization and supply chain, and accelerate the development of advanced cable technologies, assets and services. These targets will now be updated to reflect the Group’s new commitment.
“The decision to set stricter CO2 emission reduction targets, based on scientific evidence, is aimed at making Prysmian Group’s commitment to pursuing sustainable growth even more credible and transparent.”
Last year, in an investor note, a Citi analyst quipped that Prysmian’ssustainability strategy might make climate activist Greta Thunberg and CEO Valerio Battista “into very good friends.” That might be a stretch, but the group is demonstrating through its actions that it takes sustainability seriously.
THINKING AHEAD TO ACHIEVE TARGETS
So, it is logical to start a chat with her asking how much of the everyday woman is there in the female manager and vice versa. Cinzia has no doubts: just one. And more precisely. “There’s just one woman: the one who dreams with ambition, proceeds with confidence and, above all, leads with passion. The passion that has accompanied me throughout my professional and personal life. And it continues to accompany me today, whilst I’m facing a marvellous challenge in a different latitude of the world from where I was born and grew up and in such an extraordinarily fascinating country such as Turkey.”
Turkey indeed. How come? “Deciding to accept — with huge enthusiasm — to run a company in Turkey, getting beyond my comfort zone, is both a personal and professional challenge at the same time. And, even before that, deciding to leave everything and work — and live — in one of the most incredible and complex countries of the planet, India, goes far beyond accepting a new professional challenge: it means being ready to change one’s personal life. And to give up my beloved high heels! When you love what you do, the Everyday Woman and the Woman-Manager live together harmoniously. After all, personal life is built day after day, like a business; and just like a business, it is strewn with glitches, which have to be managed, just like a good manager does every day. Life requires creativity and generosity. Equally, anyone running a business lives by transformation and innovation with a sole objective: to create value for the company, but also for those who work there and for the entire community. By day, by night, always.” In conclusion, as she says: “This means there is the passion.”
But did Cinzia dream of living in Turkey as a child? Obviously not, it’s the path you take that plots your way. And, as Cinzia says today: “Probably, as I gradually took the various developmental steps from childhood into adolescence, I too entertained all sorts of dreams, as happens with every young boy or girl throughout the world. But every dream, from when I was little, definitely had and continues to have one constant: to do anything, provided it is done well. And happily.”
The Female Manager
A personal account better explains how she came to this conclusion. “I remember one summer when I was still young, and my father found me engrossed watching the master builder who was building the boundary wall for our new house. I was fascinated by the care with which he showed his bricklayers, doing it himself, how to lay every stone, the harmony and finesse with which he applied the mortar to bind every element, his perseverance in achieving the set goal every day, the satisfaction with which at the end of each working day, and once the goal had been achieved, he himself tidied up and put away the tools. How he stood out from all the others! I’ve never dreamed of being either a bricklayer or a master builder (later on, yes, I admit, a civil engineer). Yet, that summer I understood that one day I too would like to do good things, I’d want to see concrete results and, above all, I’d want to do everything well.”
Then — I remember it clearly — my father said to me: ‘He didn’t get to be the boss by chance. You see, there are two ways of doing things: well and carefully, or badly and unwillingly. It takes the same time. So you may as well do them well.’ That was his way — that blunt way of ‘mountain people’ — of saying that it would give me more satisfaction in life to do things well. Even if that inevitably leads us to be more demanding of ourselves and of others ...”
Hence the turning point. “Well, I believe that we have to identify with the ‘culture of the best’, because this is what has driven and will continue to drive the global success of every business and its stakeholders, of a local area, of a country. From the fundamental aspects to the details, we must tackle every challenge and every day with the spirit of someone who is constantly seeking the best. Whatever the dream may be.”
Cinzia still considers herself to be a fortunate woman since, even though encountering difficulties along her own path, she has worked hard to overcome a limited vision. “I have been lucky to work in regional and multinational companies, in the public and private sectors, in product and service companies, in listed and unlisted companies, in Italy and abroad, where actually I reside today. Everywhere, I have found that thanks to our skills, our experience and our dedication nothing is impossible. We have demonstrated this. We have the right and the duty to be ambitious and, together with the other part of the universe, starting with everyday life, to write one of the most extraordinary stories of transformation of the way of doing business: the story that talks about diversity — not only gender-based — and inclusion, multiculturalism.
Culture of the Best
And these are actually the fundamental pillars on which the corporate culture of the Group to which I am proud to belong rests, wheresoever in the world. Five years ago, Prysmian Group launched a special programme for promoting diversity and inclusion, named ‘Side by Side’. From the outset, this initiative was intended to express the Group’s total commitment and was therefore promoted globally also through the support of an ad-hoc steering committee, the Group Diversity Workstream, of which I am a member. With this focus and again at global level, country by country, Prysmian is working on gender, age and culture diversity recognising the value of people, different backgrounds and different leadership styles, in the conviction that everyone, with their own uniqueness, is able to generate value for the business and for the company.
Various policies have been adopted by the Group, such as the Group Diversity Recruitment Policy and the Global Maternity Policy, combined with numerous workshops and training sessions to foster cultural changeand inclusion and diverse initiatives to support caregivers. Prysmian has set itself very precise gender balance objectives, aimed at attracting increasing numbers of female talent, especially in the core functions, such as Manufacturing, Research & Development and Sales. And also to increase the number of women in leadership positions, which rose from 6% in 2016 to 13.4% at the end of 2020. That’s how fortunate I am!”
“Whether we like it or not, the three W’s are changing the world: ‘web’, ‘weather’, “women”.
Prysmian Group has named Prysmian Turkey Human Resources Director Aysun Kalmik to lead the company’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, which is responsible for promoting the Group’s policies and actions internally and supporting HR in designing specific training and development initiatives to support diversity.
Kalmik takes over from VP Group Talent Acquisition, Talent Management & People Development chief Angela Amodio, who remains on the Committee. Prysmian Group aims to have up to 18% of its management comprised of women in 2022, up from 13% in 2020.
“Through the managers on the Committee and by creating regionalambassadors for Diversity & Inclusion we can cascade the messagesthroughout the organization and reach everyone,” she explained. “Myapproach will be to engage with these ambassadors, the HR teams, COO’s and CEO of the regions, to spread the message.”
The only way to achieve a worldwide result on D&I targets is to cascade the goals across the group region by region, she says. Building a good follow- up and tracking system beside the high level of commitment, awareness and ambition is key, “and if you follow up the execution side with the same ambition as well, then you reach all those targets.”
Kalmik’s deputy on the Committee will be Prasha Sarwate, Product Manager at Prysmian’s plant in Lincoln, Rhode Island, in a newly-created role. Together, and with the support of Angela Amodio in Europe, Committee leadership has deep knowledge of cultural and workplace norms in diverse geographical areas.
The 20-member Committee brings together the group's regional chiefs, leaders of business units; Chief Sustainability Officer Cristina Bifulco; Senior VP, Chief R&D Officer Srini Siripurapu; and the group's Chief HR Officer Fabrizio Rutschmann. The Committee will collaborate closely with the 12 "Local Sustainability Ambassadors" which are located in each region around the globe where the Group does business.
Kalmik, working under Prysmian Turkey CEO Cinzia Farisè, has been instrumental in making Prysmian Turkey a Diversity & Inclusion center of excellence for the company since 2019.
Half of its Board of Directors is female, and so are 35% of white-collar employees and 25% of its senior managers. Prysmian Turkey’s achievement was recognized by the “Women Empowered Board of Directors” award by Sabanc? University Corporate Governance Forum in 2020 during the “Turkey Women Directors Conference.”
Turkey’s geographic position as “not fully from Europe and not from the Middle East” but also the diverse culture in the country has shaped her professional experience, says Aysun, along with the fact that families in the eastern and central parts of Turkey define women’s roles in a more traditional way. In these places, the belief is that “a woman’s place is at home, or working in the field, or raising children.”
PRYSMIAN TURKEY'S WOMEN:
Board of Directors
“I feel lucky to have been raised in Istanbul by a highly-educated and modern family. But seeing the experience of friends, or colleagues, ordifferent types of families, made me believe I wanted to do something about women in terms of their rights and opportunities by focusing on gender equality from different backgrounds, different cultures, different nationalities, different generations,” she said. “So, after my Bachelor Degree in Economics, I have choosen People Management and being in HR gave me the chance to create policies to support that equal opportunity, to build performance systems, to build talent management systems.”
Aysun believes that gender bias can be overcome by resilience,by raising the awareness and through support from structures and programs like the ones at Prysmian. With the right policies and practices, and strong commitment, companies can attract, grow and retain diverse talent.
“We need to prove that women have a place in industry in both desk and non-desk jobs,” she said. “One of my dreams for Turkey and for all the other countries in Prysmian perimeter, is to start a project for hiring women for non-desk jobs, such as women forklift operators or production operators in shifts. I am working on that.”
a view from different backgrounds
A FIRST IN THE CABLE INDUSTRY
ECO CABLE uses the same measurable and recognized assessment criteria as established certification labels, namely the EU Ecolabel, and is a complement to net-zero Scope 3 target, paving the way for a specific extension to the cable industry.
ON THE SAME PAGE AS OUR CUSTOMERS
We aim to share the same green language as our customers, bringing to their supply chains products that meet measurable and recognized criteria, in a perfect fit with a circular economy.
SIX MEASURABLE AND INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED CRITERIA
To be ECO CABLE-labelled, each cable family has to pass a rating process based on the following criteria.
1. CARBON FOOTPRINT:
calculated according to “cradle-to-gate” approach and combined with other parameters to achieve full “cradle-to-grave” carbon footprint;
2. SUBSTANCES OF VERY HIGH CONCERN:
products shall be free of substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic for reproduction, or hazardous for the environment;
indicates that materials used in cables are potentially recyclable or the products themselves are potentially fully recyclable;
4. RECYCLING INPUT RATE:
indicates the presence of recycled material in a cable, both purchased from external suppliers and reused by Prysmian Group itself;
5. ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS:
applies to low-carbon enabling products, CPR compliant cables, and cables used for green energy sources;
6. CABLE TRANSMISSION EFFICIENCY:
the more efficient the cable, the more sustainable its performance.
ECO CABLE is our pledge to provide transparent and clear indications and information, using recognized criteria, on the greenness of our cables based on our three key drivers: SUSTAINABILITY, RELIABILITY and QUALITY.
of total products using Eco Cable by 2022
(FROM 0% IN 2019)
Prysmian Finland CEO
The new renewable biomass solution cuts the annual CO2 emissions at Pikkala from thermal energy by 100% and reduces energy costs by nearly 20% by €190,000 each year, by using recycled wood from cable transport drums after they become unsuitable for industrial use. Construction should break ground in May, and the new plant should be ready during the first quarter of next year.
Borjan Sehovac has also doubled the number of charging stations for electric cars, reflecting the company’s new fleet policy.
Starting from January 2021, all Prysmian Group’s new company cars in Italy will be exclusively plug-in hybrid models or full electric. The “green” corporate car policy is one of the actions Prysmian Group is taking to meet its 2022 sustainability goals.
The biomass plant at Pikkala and more electric cars in company fleet are two of the concrete steps Prysmian Group is taking to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral. Almost 50% of the Pikkala plant’s biomass needs will be supplied by Prysmian’s own wooden drums on-site, and the remainder will come from third-party carbon-neutral recycled wood sources. The new heating system will replace natural gas and will be supplied by leadingBaltic energy group Adven, reducing yearly CO2 emissions from thermal energy by 100% from current level from Spring 2022 onwards over a multi-year contract.
SCIENCE-BASED carbon reduction targets
The plant at Pikkala manufactures medium- and low-voltage land and submarine cables for the energy transition. It is one of Prysmian Group's four submarine cables plants in Europe, along with Arco Felice (Naples), Drammen (Norway) and Nordenham (Germany).
Achieving carbon-free heating at Pikkala will help Prysmian meet several goals on its Sustainability Scorecard for 2022: to cut CO2 emissions by 2-3%; to recycle as much as two thirds of its own waste; and to reuse 27% of its own drums. In the next three years starting from 2020, Prysmian will invest around €450 million to further improve the sustainability of its organization and supply chain, and to accelerate the development of advanced cable technologies as well as assets and services. Energy consumption reduction, circularity and waste recyclability are key in Prysmian's efforts.
For Prysmian Group, reducing climate change is a long-term ambition, translated into a concrete action plan and totally rooted in our business model (both as an enabler of the energy transition and as a competitive advantage to better support our customers in efforts to reach their targets)..