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2016 Sustainability Report
published 2017/08/01

The 10 guiding principles of the Economy for the Common Good and where we at VAUDE stand


1. The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) strives towards an ethical market economy designed to increase the quality of life for all rather than to increase the wealth of just a few.

VAUDE is a family-owned company that takes its responsibility for people and the environment seriously. The power of our brand and the quality of our products is our greatest asset. Therefore, at VAUDE we focus on our defined values across all departments - rather than on short-term profit maximization.

2. The ECG helps promote the values of human dignity, human rights and ecological responsibility in our day-to-day business practices.

We take responsibility in everything we do: for our fellow human beings, our environment and for future generations. As a company that acts sustainably, we focus on long-term/future-oriented, ecological, social and economic objectives.

Social justice is very important to us at VAUDE. Therefore, we take great care that our producers respect human rights and provide fair working conditions for their employees. To ensure independent monitoring of working conditions in production facilities, VAUDE has been a member of the independent organization “Fair Wear Foundation" (FWF) since 2010. Our goal is to achieve an improvement of working conditions in our production facilities in cooperation with the experts of the "Fair Wear Foundation" and other member companies.

We want to manufacture our products with minimal environmental impact. Our partnership with the bluesign® system gives us a high level of security. Green Shape is your VAUDE guarantee for environmentally friendly products – made from sustainable materials, with resource-efficient manufacturing and in fair production conditions.

Our headquarters in Obereisenbach, Germany is EMAS / ISO14001 certified. Since 2011, we have created a complete Climate Balance, which serves as a basis for action on reducing emissions and calculating our climate compensation.

3. The Common Good Matrix indicates to what extent these values are put into practice in a company. The Matrix is being continually improved upon in an open, democratic process.

The ECO matrix represents all the common welfare-relevant environmental, social and economic aspects of a company. These aspects are taken into consideration in the VAUDE sustainability strategy.

4. The Matrix provides the basis for companies to create a Common Good Balance Sheet. The Common Good Report then describes how a company has implemented these universal values and looks at areas in need of improvement. The report and the balance sheet are externally audited and then published. As a result, a company’s contribution to the Common Good is made available to the public and all stakeholders.

VAUDE agrees with the contents of the ECG. We became a member of the ECO in 2013, which expresses our full support. In 2011, VAUDE created its first ECG Balance Sheet and ECO Report, and had them audited by an ECG auditor. At the end of 2014 we updated both the GRI Report and the Balance Sheet, had them audited in accordance with the latest ECO version, and published them in 2015.

Thus in addition to the VAUDE sustainability report, we are offering another honest insight into our company and presenting VAUDE’s contribution to the community in a transparent manner.

5. Common Good companies benefit in the marketplace through consumer choice, cooperation partners and common-good-oriented lending institutions.

Awareness of environmental and social issues by consumers and specialist retailers has risen sharply in recent years. This is both welcome and necessary. VAUDE is generally seen as an authentic and sustainable brand, using “best practices” on these issues, and whose products are often bought explicitly for this reason.

Despite this - or perhaps because of it - we are confronted daily with several areas of tension, such as the rift between sustainability and products’ technical performance or between sustainability and the product price. Sometimes we can create a win-win situation for all sides with more sustainability. Sometimes diverging objectives can also simply be non-compatible. Where this is the case, we have to make compromises. VAUDE is a business enterprise and is dependent on the profits we generate through product sales. We consider it important that we always take the common good into consideration, talking about it honestly and self-critically, even when compromises are necessary.

Our partnerships with the WWF Germany and the DAV show that our commitment to sustainability is truly authentic.

6. To offset higher costs resulting from ethical, social and ecological activities, Common Good companies should benefit from advantages in taxation, bank loans, and public grants and contracts.

It is in the interest of a company to engage in sustainable business. We therefore consider it worthwhile that sustainable action be supported with legal advantages, for one to balance the effort and costs invested, and secondly, to encourage more companies to meet their social responsibilities in practice. The economy for the common good is well suited to measuring and evaluating the CSR commitment of companies.

Banks are key stakeholders for VAUDE. VAUDE’s financing options are determined by their ratings. We also feel that sustainability issues are gaining in importance here; yet at the same time, traditional financial indicators remain. This is also an area of conflict with, at times, conflicting objectives; we would like to have clearer orientation from policy, and legal norms in the direction of sustainability.

7. Business profits serve to strengthen and stabilize a company, and to ensure the income of owners and employees over the long term. Profits should not, however, serve the interests of external investors. This allows entrepreneurs more flexibility to work for the Common Good and frees them from the pressure of maximizing the return on investment.

Companies belonging external investors are often under high financial pressure because their investors / shareholders expect the highest dividends possible. This is understandable for individual investors, but it’s often not in the best interest of the common good. Business decisions that support environmental protection or more social responsibility often don’t “pay off” in the short term. The pressure to be able to pay out the highest profits possible can have a negative effect on how well the company functions for the public interest.

VAUDE is 100 percent family-owned and there are no external capital investors involved in the company. Therefore, corporate profits can be re-invested in the company to a large extent, and the company’s goals, including those for environmental protection and social responsibility, can be pursued.

The board of partners consists of the founding family von Dewitz. There is no profit distribution to external owners.

8. Another result is that companies are no longer forced to expand and grow. This opens up a myriad of new opportunities to design business that improves the quality of life and helps safeguard the natural world. Mutual appreciation, fairness, creativity, and cooperation can better thrive in such a working environment.

VAUDE is a highly value-oriented company and we live out these values in our daily interactions. One of our core values is trust: we trust our employees and support, encourage and challenge them so that they are both motivated and able to perform at their own personal best.
We are involved in sustainability well beyond pure profit motives with a variety of stakeholders, such as WWF Germany, DAV and EOCA (European Outdoor Conservation Association). Nevertheless, we are operating as a business enterprise in a very competitive international outdoor industry market. To ensure that we remain autonomous and independent, we first need to continue to grow and increase our equity ratio. But we agree with the ECG that growth is not an end in itself.

9. Reducing income inequality is mandatory in order to assure everyone equal economic and political opportunities.

VAUDE is fundamentally for a social market economy, in which income differences truly depend on a rational basis and equal treatment applies. Therefore, VAUDE has introduced a new salary system in order to make the subject more transparent and clear. Employees performing similar activities should be paid a comparable salary.

Equal opportunity is a concern for us in our production facilities outside of Germany; we are working closely together with the Fair Wear Foundation on this issue.

10. The Economy for the Common Good movement invites you to take part in recreating an economy based on these values. All our ideas about creating an ethical and sustainable economic order are developed in an open, democratic process, will be voted upon by the people, and will be enshrined in our constitutions.

Democratic processes are also an important issue for VAUDE. Therefore, a participatory model was established based on consensus and a culture of trust. This model was formulated and is supervised by the management.

On an international level, we are cooperating with our competitors on many issues and our expertise and experience is widely available (e.g. with the Fair Wear Foundation or the Higg index). VAUDE understands the establishment of a future-oriented (including socially and environmentally sustainable) economic order into the constitution as a comprehensive political and social task. To this end, we are involved both in political discussions and events as well as industry associations for sustainable development.