Following a recent on-site visit, we were particularly drawn to ASML - the world’s largest supplier of photolithography systems for the semiconductor industry.
The Dutch group’s robust governance system is based on an internally-promoted and high quality team of directors, distinct roles for the CEO and Managing Director, a shareholder foundation that can act as a counterweight and an independent Management Board whose members have diverse backgrounds. The company also manages its accounting risks particularly well. The governance of ASML’s sustainable development is also highly satisfactory, as demonstrated by the company’s presence in the main Sustainable Development indices (FTSE4 Good, Stoxx ESG Global Leaders, etc.) but also by the quality, audited, CSR Report that includes qualitative and quantitative targets and tracks the progress made over time.
Many initiatives encourage wellness in the workplace
From an employment perspective, the group comes second in the ranking of Best Dutch Multinationals Employers. One of the reasons is the launch of a Great Places to Work programme from 2013. The company has led many initiatives designed to improve the well-being, the motivation and the engagement of the firm’s employees. One example is the quirky application that provides advice for the physical and mental well-being of its employees when they are away on business trips. The survey participation and engagement rates are stable and very encouraging. Training is a key axis for the group which operates in a highly technical sector that tends to be neglected by graduates: much effort is therefore deployed in hiring outside talent, but internal promotions are also important.
Permanent focus on energy efficiency
Looking at environmental issues, the group’s products have enabled the miniaturisation of chips, thereby offering clients considerable improvements in terms of energy efficiency. The drive to optimise energy efficiency in the factories and to reduce CO2 emissions – they have been halved between 2010 and 2015 – remains on a positive trend. Addressing the issue of raw materials is a priority for the group, as it relies on conflict minerals. The reporting obligations are extensive and ASML requires a high level of transparency from its suppliers as they are the direct buyers of these minerals. Sub-contracting is prevalent in the industry and ASML has drawn up a responsible and ethical sourcing policy. The number of quality, environmental and social impact audits, although still insufficient, is steadily rising. If any breaches are identified, the group sets up a course of action with the concerned suppliers.
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