Sustainability Report

Our aim is to deliver high-quality services, enabling customers to focus on their core business, offering innovative, sustainable, and tailor-made solutions beyond logistics, and constantly fostering innovation, whilst promoting sustainable technologies and behaviors.

As an innovative and entrepreneurial logistics company, we are increasingly adopting sustainability practices to set an example of sustainability. Everything we do at Ahlers is inspired by a sustainable customer-centric mindset, guided by skilled leadership, guaranteed by full transparency, and using the highest standards in helping customers gain actionable insights and reducing CO2.

With this increased transparency comes greater accountability for action around our commitment, and taking advantage of the opportunities that have come to light.

We care for the environment
Good Health and Well Being
Education
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Climate Action

We are committed to the UN sustainability goals
 

Our sustainability strategy is based on the fields of action defined by the United Nations, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, we continue to work on finetuning our strategic goals, creating a plan that makes our commitment even more transparent and our contribution measurable.

In this 2022 report, you will find information on Ahlers as a company, examples of our services and actions, and opportunity highlights. You can learn more about what we have executed to support the Sustainable Development Goals and the actions on which we decided to focus on.

Our Company. Our Mission.

Ahlers provides state-of-the-art logistics support in sustainable supply chain management – international forwarding, secured transportation of theft-sensitive goods, warehousing, on-site logistics, projects and machinery, trade facilitation, and after-sales services.

As leaders in the logistics industry, we contribute to the development, and well-being of society and the environment. We help customers increase efficiency, and decrease emissions, offering several options for minimizing and/or avoiding logistics-related emissions.

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We all play a part - 2022 Highlights

Helping customers to calculate their carbon footprint

Do you transport by truck, rail, or vessel? What are the routes? How much cargo do you ship? By examining this data and applying our in-house developed carbon footprint calculator, we determine the total CO² emission after which we can start working on scenarios for reduction.  Our in-house developed CO2 calculation tool adopts the GLEC framework for emission calculation.

Environmental Activities

With our sustainability team, we drive team-building activities that offer our employees a chance to work together to improve the environment, aiming to work for a better world. Many of our offices all over the world supported local and worldwide environmental initiatives in 2022, such as World Clean Up Week, Plastics Free month, Bike2Work, recycling activities.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We take action to provide a safe, inclusive, and engaging working environment for all our employees. Ahlers supports various initiatives of local non-profit organizations, to drive initiatives that support people in need, or with disabilities. We encourage our employees to engage and participate in volunteering activities. Check out examples here

“Climate change is the world’s most urgent environmental challenge, and we must transform towards a climate-neutral and sustainable economy. The time for action is now. We have to act together as the only way forward.”

Stefan Van Doorslaer, CEO, Ahlers

We care about the environment so that we, as individuals and as a company, can have a bright future. “Environmental support is an integral part of our company philosophy”.

Carl Peeters, CFO, Ahlers

SDG 3 Good Health and Well Being

Enabling a healthy physical and mental life is the responsibility of both employer and employee. Putting the health and safety of our employees and customers first sits at the core of our values.

The Challenge
Health is a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development. Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages for all of our employees is essential to sustainable development. The COVID-19 pandemic continues and growing mental health issues continue to impact our lives.

Our 2022 Contribution
Here are some of the steps we have taken to improve employee well-being and better productivity in the future. Environmental, health, and safety are crucial to the way we do business as a core organizational value.

Stay Healthy initiatives

  • Regular get-fit and sports events initiatives such as table tennis, badminton contests and continuously strive to keep our staff motivated in the sports season with initiatives around football, running, etc. Each year we organize our Bike2Work breakfast which is not only good for our health but contributes to a better environment and fewer traffic jams, saving CO2 emissions.
  • Fit@Ahlers – An external fit coach supported the employees that joined the program with actions such as determining their current health and fitness level, and advising them on training and their diet to improve overall health. The coach also looked into the ergonomic setup of desks and workstations. 
  • With our daily office fruit delivery, we create opportunities for employees to make more healthy lifestyle choices. 

Increasing support for mental health

  • Through the employee well-being program, Ahlers offers psychological support (hotline) through our health insurance program to support any mental health issues our employees might be experiencing.
  • Our HR supporting staff has an open-door policy and advocates for reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues or concerns.

COVID and Flue protection

  • We accelerated the COVID vaccination process for our employees in Russia. Ahlers agreed with a local hospital providing opportunity windows to schedule covid vaccinations for our employees.  People were very happy to get in earlier than expected, after a survey, we divided people into groups, providing transport to the hospital.
  • We promote free-onsite flu vaccinations at several of our locations as well as on-site COVID testing possibilities.
  • Working from home. The flexibility for employees to work from home or remotely allows our people to remain agile, and productive whilst keeping a healthy work-life balance environment.

Creating clear workplace guidelines for health and safety

  • Our environmental health and safety policy outlines the commitments we take as a company. We are committed to complying with all applicable EHS laws, regulations, and permits as well as developing and implementing high standards. 
  • On a regular basis, we perform a risk analysis of environmental aspects in all of our operations and implement actions to eliminate or mitigate these risks for the preservation of our employee’s health, prevention of injuries, and environmental protection.

"Having good health is directly related to leading a productive life. Not only do we launch several “stay healthy” initiatives for our employees, but by ensuring safe operations, secured transport, and creating healthy environments for our employees, using clear policies and innovative systems, we support our customers in their journey to good health." 

Roger Chantillon, CCO, Director Int. Forwarding, Secured Transportation, Ahlers

“Our human resources department focuses on discovering and promoting the potential of every one of our employees by offering jobs that provide market conform salaries, ensuring safe working conditions, and safeguarding workers’ rights. This way, we foster innovation and create tailor-made sustainable solutions for the supply chain of the future."

Hilde Nuyts, Corporate HR Director, Ahlers

SDG 4 Education

We invest in quality education and sharing the skills we have developed across the globe will help us grow as individuals, and as a professional organization, allowing us to provide cross-discipline solutions unique to Ahlers. Our educational services provide opportunities for employees to learn and improve.

The Challenge

The industry is setting high demands on the education process, as logistics needs highly skilled resources. Not only specialists but also operational workers will be faced to work with new technologies.

Our 2022 Contribution

Here are some of the steps we have taken to improve education and the continuous development of our workforce for the future. Creating loyal teams and retaining talent by offering first-class education are both essential when it comes to offering our customers first-class service. 

Grow existing talent

  • At Ahlers, when possible, we give people a chance by promoting them to positions they need to grow into. By creating internal opportunities and continuous education, we develop in-house talent instead of finding new external talent. We help to retain talent by offering them a challenging environment that enables them to grow and advance their career.

Lifelong learning opportunities

  • Business-specific learning programs, such as the IT Security awareness campaign, are offered to our employees. Self-paced microlearning is offered and tracked in our HR e-learning platform. Collaborating with the industry sector, allows people to benefit from the latest industry-related trends and training. 
  • In 2022, we continued to deliver professional skills and managerial competencies training. Several webinars were organized such as insights on our project management office. We also launched a pilot project to enhance linguistic skills with the Go Fluent online language program.

​​​​​​​Logistics Academy

  • We kickstarted a brand-new logistics academy program including 4 modules in which our warehouse managers guide first-line leaders on key business priorities, providing them with best practices. Ten managers and shift team leaders from different warehouse locations took part in a tailored training program covering topics from individual goal setting and operational safety skills to team management and leadership.

 

    Induction program – Insights training

    • Several times a year, we offer new hires quality education across our business support functions and commercial business units sharing best practices, to ensure the successful onboarding of our employees.
    • In 2022 we conducted induction program sessions for newcomers in all locations, in which the different business units, operations, and support business functions presented a holistic picture of business processes, projects, strategies, and goals. We also ran several insights training sessions for newcomers and teams offering a broad portfolio of training solutions.

    Manager Talks

    • We launched a new format where any director, manager, team lead, and expert meet with our internal audience to share some good practices, explain complex rules or new regulations, and touch on specific professional areas. In 2022 we delivered the first sessions and plan more sessions in 2023.

    IT training for the non-tech audience

    • In 2022, our data analytics team organized training sessions for employees using Power BI analytics in their everyday lives. The participants learned how to use Power BI in a more simple and effective way.

      Customer Intimacy

      • As part of our CODE strategy, our employees followed a series of 11 short videos focusing on customer intimacy. Close customer relationships are key to success and help our internal audience how Ahlers addresses its customer’s needs.

      “Together with our customers, we implement modal shift changes, creating sustainable, resilient supply chains. We help them with a customized solution from the initial planning and budgetary phase to the final delivery and facility start-up.”

      Jeroen De Ryck, Director Projects and Machinery, Ahlers

      “We stimulate a nice and flexible working environment allowing our people to feel good, and this during every single day of the year. This motivates us throughout the day.

      Didier Duponselle, Director Warehousing and Onsite Logistics, Ahlers

      SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

      We want to enable our employees to have decent work where they can grow, contribute, and play an important part in determining the future of Ahlers. Our employees are best described through these three simple statements: passionate about the customer and the business, hands-on and professional.

      The Challenge Several significant supply chain disruptions have marked the past year, the pandemic continued to cause major disruptions. This showed how important a job in logistics can be. However, for young potential, we still need to create more awareness, to showcase how appealing a career in logistics can be. At the same time, transferring skills, employee retention, creating opportunities for growth, and driving diversity are key.

      Our 2022 Contribution - Here are some of the steps we have taken to create an environment of decent work and economic growth. We stimulate a nice work environment with the right tools. We want our employees to feel good about coming to work, and this motivates us to create a stimulating and comfortable environment.

      Our culture and values – The Ahlers Way

      • The Ahlers way brochure describes the cornerstone of our values and promotes entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation throughout the organization. The company we are building is fueled by a growth mindset in an organization that respects the Ahlers’ traditional values.

        Work-Life Balance and Productivity

        • Providing flexible work hours and working-from-home options allows our employees to combine work, family, and personal life more easily.
        • We work in an organization with self-regulating principles and teams where people can take decisions independently.

        Creating potential for growth

        • Promoting within Ahlers helps keep productivity high. We have a high rate of internal promotions and several employees that started after school and advanced their careers. A great example today is our Business Unit Director Trade Facilitation who started at Ahlers coming from the university. Each year we have annual performance reviews for all employees.

        Diversity and inclusion

        • At Ahlers, we promote employee inclusion from different backgrounds in our organizational structure. We are proud to have a good balance of women in leadership positions.

          Compensation and Benefits

          • The salaries offered are benchmarked against market and industry standards. To support this, we run our employee survey and perform benchmark studies, initiating extra benefits applicable to the countries we operate in. We care about our employees’ career and professional development and support this with our performance, reward, and development process in place.

            Safety comes first

            • Our safety experts provide training in handling dangerous goods. They are trained in a dedicated training center, receive special certificates for loading and unloading operations, and require recurrent mandatory training every 3 years.
            • With our EHS management system, we identify opportunities for continuous improvement. In 2022 we published our environmental health and safety policy outlining the commitments we take as a company.

            Office Environment

            • Our new office opened in late 2021 in Saint Petersburg is designed for future growth and offers a contemporary workspace, several break-out rooms, and a state-of-the-art auditorium, as well as green screen possibilities for video conferencing.  We also have now a kid’s corner for when employees come to the office and have no babysit for that day. 
            • The new workspace comes with plenty of excitement and flexibility. Open spaces will allow our employees to get together and play with new ideas, whereas more intimate spaces will allow them to be uninterrupted, concentrate and drive innovation, which is at the core of the Ahlers' strategy.

            Warehousing

            • In December 2022 we opened a new warehouse in Saint Petersburg on our territory. In all of our warehouses, we provide protective clothing, which is adjusted to the season, including hard hats, vests, and masks for our warehouse workers.
            • We did the renovation of toilets and showers in our facilities and we provide a canteen where warehouse staff can have free lunches. Additional accident insurance is also provided for all warehouse and warehouse operations-related employees.

            Ahlers onsite logistics: an alternative for outsourcing specialized staff

            • Outsourcing means many workers are sourced from specialized contractors rather than being employed directly. With Ahlers Onsite Logistics, we take care of our customer’s warehousing needs, either onsite in their factory, our facilities, or in carefully chosen strategic locations.
            • Ahlers has a flexible pool of people, which it can leverage across our different logistics operations. This helps to drive a perfect balance between own and agency staff.

            “We aim to achieve our business objectives through efficient and intelligent utilization of our workforce. We provide our employees with the best work conditions where they can grow, contribute, and play an important part in determining the future of Ahlers.”

            Johan Elzes, Director Trade Facilitation, Ahlers

            “As transportation experts, we recognize the impact our industry has on the environment. 
            Our priority is to help our customers on reducing carbon footprint and respond to the mounting environmental pressures.”

            Tia Meyvis, Corporate Director IT and Innovation, Ahlers

            “We take action to provide a safe, inclusive working environment. Ahlers supports various initiatives of local non-profit organizations, to drive initiatives that support people in need, or with disabilities. We encourage our employees to participate in volunteering activities.”

            Brenda Mortier, Director Marketing & Comms, Ahlers

            SDG13 Climate Action

            Tackling the climate emergency has never been more urgent – actions to head off the consequences in our daily lives are necessary, now. To meet our ambitious climate targets in time, we need change, and fast

            The Challenge - Climate change is set to define the era that we live in for at least decades to come. Great strides are being made in climate action, but is it enough? Companies and investors have embraced the net-zero agenda as well, while customers increasingly expect the businesses they buy from to take sustainability issues into account. How can we contribute to thinking differently in order to really achieve the lasting and transformative change we need to see?

            Our 2022 Contribution - Here are some of the steps we have taken to create a greener future. Our sustainability team organizes numerous recycling activities for batteries, clothing, and plastics so we can help to protect our planet and give opportunities to people to volunteer and learn new skills.

            Paper containers for recycling

            • Our Responsible Consumption and Production team organized the collection of paper for recycling. The Technical Service collects paper from the containers on a bi-weekly basis. Collecting waste paper is not only environmentally friendly but also beneficial. Paper and cardboard are not only removed from our warehouses, but also from offices.

            Old clothing recycling

            • Each year we collect several containers of old clothing – some of it will be sold to support charity and some recycled to become new clothes. In 2022, we installed a new container in our Saint Petersburg location, where we placed a “thank you” box for collecting clothing into our auditorium, to raise awareness for people to help the cause. 

            Reduce consumption of plastic

            • To reduce the consumption of plastics we stopped purchasing bottled water in our offices. We now provide drinking water from purifiers, located in all buildings, using ceramic mugs provided to our workforce. All purifiers have 4 filters inside, to purify the water from bacteria and viruses.

              Battery collection

              • In several of our locations, we collect batteries during the year and send them off for recycling. Every employee can put their used batteries into special containers. When batteries are processed the following fractions will have a new life and can be used again: metal scrap, copper powder, manganese dioxide, and zinc dust.
              • In 2022 we collected 32 kg of batteries in our Saint Petersburg office alone for example.

              Stretch film recycling

              • We continue to recycle stretch film in designated bins placed in our warehouses and partner with local recycling facilities, which helps to reduce our environmental impact and save money on disposal costs. 

              Cleanup week

              • Every year, we support the annual world clean-up campaign. In all of our locations present, we take time to clean our countries of any dirt which begins with individual actions for collective clean communities. The aim is not only to have cleaner cities, parks, beaches, and forests, but to also move towards better waste management, and raise awareness both locally and globally of the global waste problem.

              Plastic-free month

              • Our team participated in the May Plastic Free initiative for Flanders, Belgium; so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful grammatical cleaner beautiful is not correct communities. We also provided employees with a drinking bottle and launched a program for street volunteers who regularly pick up plastic waste from the streets.

              Modal shift implementation

              • We work with our customers to implement modal shift initiatives, changing transportation modes from one mode to another. Examples can be from truck to barge or moving all goods by rail.

              CO2 calculation tool

              • At Ahlers, we have developed our CO2 calculator which helps to estimate carbon dioxide emissions, which are a key contributor to climate change.

              We look forward - Sustainability Aspirations 2023 and Beyond

              Investments

              As leaders in the logistics industry, we contribute to the development, and well-being of society and the environment. We help customers increase efficiency, and decrease emissions, offering several options for minimizing and/or avoiding logistics-related emissions.

              We keep investing in people, and new technologies to support our sustainability goals and targets.

              Continuous Improvement

              Ahlers will continue to work on existing initiatives, adding new activities based on available resources, focusing mostly on the following aspirations:

              • Wellbeing in the workplace and beyond
              • Support employees' desire to learn and grow
              • Improve education, awareness-raising, and integrate measures on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning