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IWC Schaffhausen: Gisele Bündchen appointed Environmental and Community Projects Advisor

In its latest sustainability report released on July 26, 2022, Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen presents its future goals and announces the appointment of Brazilian supermodel and environmentalist Gisele Bündchen as an advisor on environmental and community projects for the brand. Franziska Gsell, CMO and Chair of the Sustainability Committee, talks about the challenges ahead.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino26 juillet 2022

Supermodel and environmentalist Gisele Bündchen has been appointed environmental and community projects advisor to IWC Schaffhausen (DR)
Franziska Gsell, CMO and Chair of the Sustainability Committee at IWC Schaffhausen (DR)

Doubling the proportion of women in management positions, phasing out the purchase of non-FSC-certified wood products, and doubling the annual hours of corporate volunteering are some of the many goals of IWC’s last reporting period, that the brand wants to achieve by the end of 2022. IWC Schaffhausen's ethical, sustainable, and social commitment was already praised by an independent report from the non-governmental organization WWF in 2018. Chris Grainger-Herr, the brand's CEO for the past five years, wants to go further. From now on planned on an annual basis, the IWC sustainability report will better track the brand's sustainability progress. Franziska Gsell, the chairwoman of the sustainability committee, has been working for seven years to implement environmental actions. To her credit, several measures have already been taken, including the implementation of a 100% renewable energy strategy, the development of a blueprint for sustainable events and the Great Place to Work® certification. In an exclusive interview, she discusses the priorities the brand continues to work on.

What are the main improvements in terms of sustainability that the latest report released today details and which you feel are crucial?

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I would have to say that working toward sustainability goals is a process that never ends. We are constantly adding new ones, as the improvement of the state of the planet requires it. The same goes for our watches, which are of course inherently sustainable, and for which we can constantly innovate. For the past three years, we have had several successes. We can now confirm that the brand not only guarantees the supply of renewable energy at its sites around the world but has also been awarded Great Place to Work® certification for the second time, thanks to the Trust Index™, which measured that 86% of our employees rated the quality of their workplace as excellent. We have also developed a tool that measures our impact in terms of events, and based on this, we are developing a recycling strategy for our facilities.

What is your overall carbon footprint?

As the Richemont Group is linked to Science Based Targets, we now understand where we still need to improve. We measure and calculate all 3 scopes for our footprint. Of course, we offset everything that can be offset, but that is not enough. It's better to reduce your emissions than to pay to offset them. We are in the process of recognizing the areas that present issues across the entire value chain with the overall target to further reduce our footprint and to also work on our suppliers’ footprint.

To what extent is your sustainable policy in line with the criteria of the Watch & Jewellery 2030 initiative co-created by Cartier and Kering Group?

Yes, we are in line. It's a very important initiative and I'm delighted that it has come to life. For ten years, we have been at the forefront in tracing our watches’ components at IWC. But it is true that the current environmental challenges are too great to be met alone, we must join forces to accelerate. To answer in detail, one of the three goals of the initiative is climate resilience, and on this point our total supply of renewable energy meets it, as does the implementation of our Green IT strategy. The initiative's goal of resource conservation is also on our radar, including our circular water recovery system. We use almost 100% recycled gold, the rest is grandfathered, and 85% recycled steel. As for the third objective dedicated to inclusiveness, we have a charter that ensures equal pay for men and women. So, yes, we are in line with the initiative.

Today you are announcing the appointment of supermodel and environmentalist Gisele Bündchen as a special advisor on sustainability. How did this idea come about, and do you think glamour needs to be included into communications to be heard?

I'll answer in a very personal way. I was on a family vacation in Costa Rica four years ago. And we happened to be in the same restaurant. She heard us speaking German and the conversation began that way. Of course, I knew who she was. I introduced myself and the relationship started. She is truly a great person and very inspiring because she is authentic in her actions towards sustainability. I always thought that she would be a perfect representative of IWC. It took some time until she joined but now it's reality. I love the way she has used her image to talk about sustainability for the last twenty years. She's done a lot of things, including that wonderful documentary "Kiss the Ground". She is a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations for environmental programs and was in the board of directors of the Rainforest Alliance for several years. And much more. Having her on board to expand our community and biodiversity efforts is a major benefit and she has many ideas. You don't need glamour, but you do need goodwill. The committee meets four times a year, and she will be part of the discussion.

Chris Grainger-Herr believes that sustainability forces smarter thinking. Give us some examples.

IWC's new MiraTex ™ watch strap is made of Mirum, a plant-based, plastic-free and fully recyclable material (DR)

We have completely redesigned our packaging over the past three years. By talking closely with our customers, we realized that we could transform the bulky boxes into a practical, lightweight leather travel pouch. We reduced their volume and weight by 30%, the plastic by 90%. And we continue to improve it. And we're going to launch a new MiraTex™ watch strap made of Mirum, a very interesting and innovative material, because it's made of plants, minerals, FSC-certified natural rubber, it’s plastic-free and 100% recyclable.

Your efforts are many when it comes to sustainability. What about your involvement in the automotive world and Formula 1? Are you thinking about redirecting your sponsorship efforts towards more sustainable activities?

I have to say that our ambassador Lewis Hamilton is a great change-maker in terms of inclusion in the automotive world. Ignite Foundation that he has created with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team - which we support with annual donations - aims to increase diversity in motorsport. At Mercedes, considerable efforts are being made to be carbon neutral by 2030. IWC is a brand known for its engineering capacity, just like Mercedes. So our efforts are in technological progress, including in this area. Of course, I understand the question, it is a legitimate one. We must not ignore it, and it is also an issue that we discuss with Mercedes AMG Petronas in our meetings. And I can tell you that progress is being made.

En partenariat avec IWC Schaffhausen

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