Stéphanie Portmann, granddaughter of the founder and since 2013 Managing Director of the Fred Tschanz group, speaks about the background and family relationship to the company’s efforts in this arena, acceptance by the guests, and further plans.
Hello, Ms Portmann. The social work of Fred Tschanz Management AG dates back many years and was initiated by its founders. What first motivated him back then?
You’re speaking of the beginnings of the Fred Tschanz Foundation in 1997. As I understand, my grandfather had a good friend whose child had a disability. The parents lacked the money to give their child certain treatments or even unique, special experiences. So Fred Tschanz stepped into the breach and helped out here and there. He too grew up in very modest conditions. This ultimately resulted in the foundation.
Since when and why has climate protection become a focus, in addition to the needs of children and young people?
I think that it’s really key that personal beliefs are behind this. Climate change affects us all and we are probably faced by one of the greatest challenges of humankind. With our facilities in central Zurich, we have the ability to put out certain signals in the hope of being able to help shape a rethink in our immediate environment, as well amongst the general public. Since I started in my role 2013, I have been trying to integrate these ideas step by step into the operations.
How does your system work in practical terms?
The most important thing is probably working on the mindset of our employees. Every step, every purchase, every decision should be questioned as automatically as possible: is this activity based on a sustainable core approach? Of course, we must not forget the profitability of daily business. However, we are convinced that in the majority of cases, it is also economically worthwhile to embrace our ecological and social responsibilities in everyday life and with respect to the company strategy itself – at least in the long term.
On the operational side, 1% of the company's turnover is deducted at the end of the year and used for myclimate, the Fred Tschanz Foundation, and our sustainability fund. You don’t give your guests a choice – one percent of each invoice is reserved for climate change and social programmes.
Have there been any acceptance problems from your guests?
Not yet, because – and this is important – this one percent is not paid by the guest, but by the companies themselves. With a clear conscience, we can say that our prices have not risen for any product, which makes us rather proud. Positive feedback on the other hand gets back to us frequently, which makes us really happy, of course.
Can you say something about the additional programmes that you finance from your fund?
From the internal sustainability fund, we finance programmes which involve things like food waste analyses or educating our personnel about sustainable nutrition and cooking. We also like to keep our eyes and ears open and let our partners – myclimate, for example – inspire us about other exciting measures.