"Sustainability is no flash in the pan"

Karen Tebar, Deputy Chair of the STIHL Advisory Board

Karen Tebar

Ms. Tebar, do you see sustainability as a trend, or are we seeing a long-term shift in the way we think and act?

Karen Tebar: I think it’s high time we change the way we think and act. Just look at the headlines: climate change, famine, refugees, plastic waste, species extinction. Many people are recognizing the risks more and more. Sustainability is no flash in the pan, it’s a necessity for all of us. The world needs our help. Politics, too, is striving to set clear frameworks for sustainable development, with initiatives such as the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the European Union’s Green Deal. We need to take action in many areas of our lives if we are to create and maintain a world worth living in for everyone. From protecting the environment and making social commitments to fair, legally compliant and sustainable business — everything must interconnect if we are to actually live sustainably. 

Why is the topic so close to your heart? 

Karen Tebar: As some may know, I am a keen horseback rider and spend most of my free time in the great outdoors. I can see first-hand how things are changing, in the direction that concerns me. My family and our company consider ourselves to be part of the fabric of society with a responsibility to the environment and our local communities. The simple reason for this is our family history: My grandfather established a company based on working in and with nature, which is why sustainability is part of our tradition as a family. It has been a firm fixture with us for decades and forms part of our roots — just as much as it is part of the STIHL corporate culture.  I intend to continue this tradition. As business-owners, our focus is on the lives, work and business of tomorrow, as well as the here and now. Everything that my family has built up over the past 100 years should continue to exist for the next 100 years, too. We can only achieve this aim if we and the generations to come take care not only of our environment, but also resources, the economy and one another.

Why is sustainability important to STIHL as a business? 

Karen Tebar: As a business, we need to act and invest sustainably if we are to remain successful over the long term. The countless recommendations for improvements that we receive year after year from our employees drive and inspire us. They show us that our employees understand what level of commitment is required from all of us, and that they want to actively help shape the future. Last but not least, demand among our customers for sustainable and innovative products is increasing; they often ask us about the origin of materials and how products can be recycled. We can and want to provide our customers with credible answers to these questions and continue to offer them innovative products. Only by doing so can we remain competitive, including on the employment market, too.

Where do you think STIHL is well-positioned when it comes to sustainability? In what areas is there a need for improvement?

Karen Tebar: STIHL is moving in the right direction. In many areas, our commitment stretches back decades. We help to protect forests in Germany through the Bergwald project and support efforts to plant trees in the rainforests of Borneo and Uganda through our partnership with Fairventures. We are imposing environmental and social standards on our supply chain and are placing a greater focus on biodiversity moving forward. We also plan to become carbon-neutral, something that our locations in Germany have been since January 2021. Apprenticeships, further training concepts and social safeguards are valued highly at STIHL. By supporting countless social and cultural projects, we also contribute to positive social change. Now our task is to embed all of these activities into an overarching strategy and move forward step by step. In the future, we will be publicly disclosing all of our measures and activities in the form of a sustainability report, so that everyone can measure us by our target achievement.

How can each and every STIHL employee make a contribution? 

Karen Tebar: We are delighted to receive so many recommendations for improvements and changes from our employees. Sustainability is not a niche or a trend that will go away soon, which is why it is up to all of us to look into where and how we can contribute to greater sustainability. Sustainability must become part of our daily routine, from saving energy in production or logistics, selecting new suppliers or in optimizing products with a view to reducing resource consumption, materials and packaging or enhancing recyclability. I call on all STIHL employees to demonstrate their creativity. Be open to new ideas and redefine boundaries!