Search Report
2016 Sustainability Report
published 2017/08/01

Socio-political issues: our points of contact and our position

Here at VAUDE, we too are affected by current social issues such as climate change, the increasingly verbal populist sentiments in Europe, and the many global conflicts and wars that are driving millions of people to flee. We have many direct points of contact with these issues as a company. Based on our values and our own experience, we, the management of VAUDE, want to take a stance on these issues, motivate others and stimulate constructive dialogue.

Immigration, asylum policies and integration

The success of today’s standard global economic systems too often relies on social exploitation and environmental destruction. As a part of this economy, we are also co-responsible for the causes of immigration such as social inequality and the fact that climate change is contributing to more people than ever being forced to flee their homes.

Throughout Germany, refugees are finding a new homeland – and also here in the Tettnang region where we live and work. We are actively promoting refugee integration in the labor market in order to effectively address our responsibilities as an employer. We are concerned by the increasing populism that answers complex problems with oversimplified answers and whose negative voice on refugee issues is becoming louder. We want to demonstrate that the integration of refugees can be successful for everyone in our society, and contribute toward maintaining social peace in our community. Read more here

We have learned that access to the labor market is an essential component for successful integration. A job not only secures the income of displaced people, but also creates a regular routine, gives people the feeling that they’re needed and provides opportunities to socialize.

We are therefore advocating for well-structured, fair asylum procedures that provide rapid integration into the labor market, education and access to health care for all who have fled to Germany because their lives or health are endangered in their home countries. Asylum seekers must not be expelled back to countries where they can expect discrimination or social misery. We also urgently advocate for the right to stay and legal certainty for refugees who have already been successfully integrated into the labor market. As an employer of refugees, we need transparent and non-bureaucratic legal certainty in the recruitment of refugees. The deportation of employees not only creates great anxiety and uncertainty among the affected people and their colleagues, it also entails economic risks for us as an employer when these employees are deported.

Germany has been affected by a shortage of skilled workers for years. We also feel this as a company – especially in the commercial sector, for example, for sewing machine operators and welders in our Manufaktur production plant. We are therefore in favor of improving immigration conditions in order to contribute to solving the challenges of demographic change and skills shortages. In our view, we need formal immigration legislation that allows for straightforward, well-structured immigration in addition to the asylum procedures currently in existence.

More at - "Our commitment to refugees"

Recommended reading:

Refugees in the supply chain

In 2015 during an audit, we uncovered child labor at one of our producers in Turkey. A manufacturer had hired Syrian refugee children who were younger than 15. Together with the other relevant FWF members and the FWF, a plan was worked out regarding how we could support the children and their families in the future. This plan is being implemented until the children reach the age of 15. More at - "Saying no to child labor".

Environmental and climate protection, Germany’s “Energiewende” and the phase out of nuclear energy

Economic activity – the manufacturing of products and services – always goes hand in hand with the consumption of resources. The resulting negative environmental impacts such as emissions often are not counted in our current economic system for the company responsible for the pollution and thus have no effect on market price. Instead, the general public has to pay. In our opinion, this isn’t right.

This is why we invest both human resources and financial resources into environmentally friendly products, for example, with sustainable materials or environmental management training in the supply chain as well as in environmentally friendly policies, such as a creating a carbon footprint or green energy. We go far beyond the legal requirements. But this also means that because of our level of commitment, we have higher costs compared to the competition. This is why we are in favor of more stringent statutory requirements and more government incentives for operational climate and environmental protection. Examples include binding targets in the regulation of chemicals and sustainability reporting as well as tax breaks and easier access to financial resources for sustainable businesses.

In addition, we are also in favor of a rapid transition to clean, environmentally friendly and safe energy, so that we can limit the impact of climate change on people, the environment and the economy, and therefore on our business, to a manageable level. This includes the development of renewable energy, investment in energy efficiency, energy conservation and energy storage, as well as in the modernization of current networks. In our opinion, this is a prerequisite for the future viability of Germany as a business location.

We support the goals of the international Framework Convention on Climate Change and would like to see the German Federal Government play a leading role in their implementation in Germany.
Also, nature conservation and environmentally friendly outdoor recreation in our region, here in southern Germany, is a heartfelt concern for us.

A current example: the Balderschwang and Obermaiselstein municipalities plan to connect the ski resorts Balderschwang and Grasgehren with a connecting ski lift at Riedbergerhorn. This project primarily involves the Alpine Zone C “quiet zone” of the Alpenplan for sustainable development of the Bavarian Alps. The Alpine Zone C protects particularly sensitive habitats that may not be developed for tourism – neither transportation wise or for intense tourism. We therefore favor the maintaining the Alpenplan and are against the ski lift at Riedbergerhorn.

Our contribution to climate protection: "Climate-neutral Commerce" and "Energy Management"

Recommended reading:

  • WWF: Worldwide for more climate protection
  • BUND: Stop Climate Change!
  • BUND: Ski lift Riedbergerhorn

Diversity, gender equality, women's quota

We are convinced that mixed teams make better decisions and that the power of innovation is strongest there as well. In the years when Antje von Dewitz took over leadership of the company, we specifically addressed women and encouraged them to apply for management positions. Many rejected the idea at first because they had the feeling that they wouldn’t be able to balance their professional and private lives in a management position or they were wary of the harsh tone of a male-dominated management culture. Therefore, we gradually implemented a variety of changes in our operational conditions and modified our corporate culture to attract women to management positions. With success: in 2016, 40 percent of our managers were women. Moreover, the intensive and continuous establishment and maintenance of our family-friendly and equal opportunity culture is also now one of our company's strongest success factors. This is why we support initiatives and political demands for equal opportunities for women in business.

»A legal quota for women in my view is an important tool for launching a cultural change in the industry because there are still companies that do not do justice to the scope of the necessary changes: a gender balance in all levels of the company not only ensures sustainability for the individual company, but in my opinion, is also a success factor for Germany as a location of business.«

Dewitz, CEO and owner, VAUDE

Economic system and entrepreneurship aligned with the common good

We see entrepreneurship as an obligation to contributing to the common good. Entrepreneurial success should be measured not only in terms of financial gain, but also in terms of its contribution to the environment and society.

Our current economic system, however, rates companies primarily by their financial success. The result is that, in general, entrepreneurs are oriented toward short-term profit maximization. In many cases, this is at the expense of society and the environment.

We therefore advocate for holistic corporate activity which is measured in terms of economic, ecologic and social aspects. Such an approach contributes to a long-term, stable and fair economic system in which human rights and the environment are protected.

We at VAUDE are closely examining the issue of business activity geared toward the public good. The Economy for the Common Good is an exciting and meaningful approach. We are a pioneer company in the Economy for the Common Good with an audited Common Good Balance Sheet. 

You’ll find the VAUDE Economy for the Common Good Balance Sheet here

Recommended Reading:

Economy for the Common Good

Shared European values and economy

We are fans of the European Union and convinced that we need Europe’s shared values and economy. The events of recent years, such as the euro crisis, Brexit and the influx of refugees, have severely tested the EU. We believe that we can overcome these challenges only by working together and that they provide an opportunity for the EU to become stronger together. 

The following applies to many German companies and also to VAUDE: the EU is our most important export sales market – read more at "Our Markets". We therefore advocate for a strong and stable European market. The free movement of workers – the right of EU citizens to freely choose their place of employment within the EU – is something that we view positively, as we hold immigration to be a chance to counter the skills shortages and demographic changes in Germany. We in the commercial sector are especially feeling this challenge and are very pleased to have employees from other EU countries now working at VAUDE. VAUDE has a total of 61 foreign employees from 28 different countries.

We appreciate this internal diversity and believe that it provides us with great creative and innovative strength. As a company with a global supply chain and global customers, it is important to our business success to become deeply familiar with a wide variety of perspectives. Diversity is always accompanied by the need to understand the strange and unusual, which requires time and energy. But from our perspective, the benefits are always worth it.

Carried over to the EU: Yes, the EU is facing major challenges and yes, the individual member states often disagree with each other. That doesn’t mean that isolation and separation are the best solutions. We call on politicians to engage in a constructive and joint struggle to find the best solutions and believe that only by working together can the EU overcome these challenges.

Recommended Reading:

  • #pulseofeurope initiative aimed at making the idea of Europe visible again
GRI:   G4-DMA Politics
Disclosure on Management Approach Politics
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Sustainable Development Goals
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