Heading Into a Better World?
In the past, when assessing the economic success of companies, we contented ourselves with the succinct remark that both customers and suppliers make regular use of services and that everything is therefore “right”. In short: more attention was paid to the product or the service itself, but less to the accompanying processes. – There’s more to come.
Tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade are more or less difficult for all companies. Tariff barriers such as the observance of necessary formalities, such as content requirements for commercial documents, such as delivery notes, invoices and more, are based on laws and are generally binding for all trading partners. Compliance with them is mandatory and can be easily integrated into business processes and monitored systematically. However, such processes are generally criticized as “bureaucracy”.
The situation is different with social or economic trends and developments that are not based on norms such as laws and regulations, but are propagated by interest groups. Occasionally they are taken up by government agencies – such as the “Supply Chain Law” currently being discussed in the EU.
For a number of years, “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) has been in demand by companies in a similar way to “Quality Management” in the 1990s. It seems that companies can hardly evade this voluntary obligation due to public “expectation pressure” if they do not want to jeopardize their market reputation and thus their sustainable business success.
While it has so far been sufficient for the company to have a fully formulated “code of conduct”, globally active companies are increasingly demanding CSR-compliant registration confirmations from their business partners in order to be able to continue the business relationship. As a result, private-sector platforms such as the EcoVadis Rating have already been established, which, for a fee, check other companies globally to test their impact on the environment, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement. This is promoted by the planned EU supply chain law, which is intended to encourage companies to act sustainably.
WTH already formulated a code of conduct for its employees and business partners in 2019. Because its own company statements are increasingly being criticized, WTH is now also planning to have its business activities certified by a suitable body in accordance with the CSR concept defined by the European Commission as “a company taking responsibility for our influence on society”.
At the beginning of the 20th century, business processes came into focus, and US industry set about standardizing business activities and internal business processes. Initially, only larger companies were affected, which in turn developed internal company regulations. With the introduction of the QM standard 9001 in 1987, the triumph of uniform, rule-based quality management in companies began.
It soon became apparent that successful QM certificates were becoming more and more mandatory in day-to-day business. Regardless of their qualitative actions, companies without certification quickly fell through the cracks and could no longer be considered. The QM certificate has increasingly become the indispensable “entry ticket” for business relationships.
The WTH quality management was successfully certified for the first time in 1998. This was a noticeable relief: there was no need to answer extensive questionnaires from business partners about internal company processes. WTH has always successfully mastered the obligatory controls and re-certifications, including all changes and tightening of the standard requirements.
A similar development followed later with the environmental protection standard ISO 14001, according to which WTH was successfully certified twenty years later. In between there were no less relevant certifications and diverse registrations of the WTH, both product-specific (e.g. dual-use goods), the movement of goods (e.g. AEO) and finance (e.g. transparency register) since the company was founded in 1992. Since then, bureaucracy and the density of regulation have increased dramatically. There was considerable additional effort, and additional costs arose in addition to the original company purpose.
At the same time, the requirements and challenges regarding evident documentation in the production, handling and use of chemical raw materials and their control are becoming increasingly important in order to be able to reliably supply our customers with the corresponding raw materials. This is the second essential structural aspect of WTH’s business purpose. Mastering them is therefore also of crucial importance for the future viability of WTH GmbH.