There are many areas where we as a company are directly faced with socio-political issues, such as global climate and biodiversity protection, the transition to renewable energy sources, safeguarding human rights in global supply chains, or issues of integration and equal rights. Based on fundamental values such as humanity, tolerance or trust and our own experiences, we want to take a non-partisan stance on these issues, provide encouragement and boost constructive dialog. Furthermore, we actively take a stance on ongoing legislative processes, such as the European Green Deal, in order to accelerate the transition towards sustainable business practices.
We at VAUDE not only want to engage in business that is as sustainably as possible, we also want to show that it is possible to take on responsibility and be economically successful. We want to contribute to the development of our economy in a direction of public service and strong values. We willingly draw public attention to these issues, campaign for sustainable solutions in industry associations and other initiatives and take a stand in politics. We also use our social media communication channels and press relations to inform people about our positions on different issues.
»Corporate responsibility is something that I feel really passionately about. Together with my colleagues, I am also active on a political level to fulfill this commitment.«
The management and the CSR team work together to discuss and address obstacles and opportunities as well as issues brought to our attention by third parties. We consider which avenues to use and how we can/must make the issues public if we want to achieve change. We do this because we firmly believe that we can only achieve truly sustainable solutions by working together and that it is important to be an influencer when and where appropriate.
We are active on various levels to advocate for sustainability in the political sphere. This includes, firstly, establishing contacts with politicians. For example, Antje von Dewitz has been a member of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Advisory Board of Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, since August 2022. Hilke Patzwall has been a member of the Environmental and Sports Advisory Board at the Federal Ministry for the Environment since 2018.
Secondly, we actively participate in industry associations and initiatives, such as the Federal Association for Sustainable Economy (BNW) or the Federal Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry (BSI).
Representatives from VAUDE also frequently attend parliamentary evenings and information events for federal or EU parliamentarians. During these engagements, we provide information about challenges in business practices, present best practices on how we drive solutions, and convey our perspective on what should be politically regulated to better implement sustainable issues.
Since the introduction of reporting according to the GRI standard in 2013, and also in the current reporting year of 2022, we have not made any financial donations or in-kind contributions to political parties, politicians, or for political purposes.
In 2022, the global economy continued to be shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and the Ukraine crisis. It is important for us to actively advocate for these societal and political issues, ensuring that the climate crisis and the demand for responsible business practices, as outlined in initiatives like the European Green Deal, are not overshadowed. We believe that both political and economic frameworks and solutions should be developed. We were particularly motivated by the realization that our sustainable business practices help us navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis with resilience and success. Proactively addressing sustainability challenges through responsible business practices strengthens our ability to overcome crises and ensures our future viability. We are committed to encouraging companies to use the crisis as an opportunity to align themselves with sustainable practices and orient themselves towards a future-oriented approach.
We are publicly positioning ourselves in favor of supply chain laws and in support for the assumption of responsibility in global supply chains. A lack of legal foundation of minimum social and ecological standards not only supports the exploitation of people and nature, it also creates competitive disadvantages for companies like VAUDE, which have already been working for fair and environmentally friendly production conditions worldwide for years.
As of the beginning of 2023, the German Supply Chain Act has come into effect, and at the EU level, a draft law for human rights and environmental due diligence in global supply chains, known as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), was presented in early 2022. We publicly support supply chain laws and advocate for taking responsibility in global supply chains. The absence of legal provisions for social and environmental minimum standards not only supports the exploitation of people and nature but also creates competitive disadvantages for companies like VAUDE, which have been advocating for fair and environmentally friendly production conditions worldwide for years.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, we in Europe experienced a turning point in history that poses enormous challenges to the defense of our democratic values and the right of sovereign states to peace, freedom and democracy. The war, its dependencies and its consequences also pose a threat to peace and economic stability in our country. During the energy crisis in winter 2022, it became apparent, for example, that a sustainable energy policy and a resource-dependent economy are also issues of independence and peacekeeping. Just as in times of the pandemic, we are finding that sustainable economic activity makes holistic sense and is important.
Our economic activities, including the production of goods and the provision of services, always involve the consumption of resources and energy. The resulting negative environmental impacts, such as CO2 emissions or inadequate handling of chemicals, need to be minimized. This requires responsible actions as well as clear and binding legal frameworks.
We are 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. In addition to climate protection, this also involves minimizing dependence on fossil energy supplies and ensuring energy security. This includes the rapid 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 an active, pioneering role in its implementation in Germany. We support global climate protection movements such as Fridays for Future and Scientists for Future and are a supporter of the corresponding Entrepreneurs for Future initiative. We have also joined the Science-Based Targets (SBT) initiative and set science-based climate targets for systematically reducing CO2 emissions that are in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 °C or well below 2 °C and we are actively campaigning for climate protection to be included as a duty of care in the planned CSDDD.
Our stance is that companies have complete responsibility for the impact of their business activities. We therefore invest both human and financial resources in the development and manufacture of environmentally friendly and ethically made products, for example, through the use of resource-efficient materials, environmental management training in the supply chain, climate balancing and environmentally friendly energy sources and by taking our due diligence obligations in the supply chain seriously. In doing so, we voluntarily go far beyond legal requirements.
However, this also means that because of our level of commitment, we have higher costs that our competition. This is why we advocate for stricter legal requirements for climate protection, environmental conservation, and the safeguarding of human rights in global supply chains. Examples of this include an appropriate carbon tax, the German Supply Chain Act, and the proposed European Supply Chain Act, binding regulations in chemical legislation such as the planned PFAS ban, clear standards like the CSRD for sustainability reporting, as well as tax incentives and easier access to financial resources for sustainable companies. You can learn more about our environmental management in the supply chain here, and you can read about how we fulfill our social responsibility here.
Nature and species conservation are close to our hearts, and we value environmentally friendly practices in the mountains and for biking activities. As a partner of the German Alpine Club (DAV), we support their goals for the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region, as well as environmentally conscious mountaineering.
In light of the loss of biodiversity, we recognize the urgent need to rethink and take action. We welcome calls for measures such as legal regulations to reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides, and initiatives aimed at preserving protected areas and increasing biodiversity in our flora and fauna. You can learn more about our commitment here.
We believe that business activity involves responsibility for actively assuming responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of one's own actions and contributing to the public good. Entrepreneurial success should be measured not only in terms of financial profits, 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, generally speaking, companies are oriented toward short-term profit maximization. In many cases, this is at the expense of society and the environment. In view of the extent of global environmental destruction and exploitation, we recognize an acute market failure that requires political action. We therefore advocate for minimum social and ecological standards the supply chains. We also advocate that corporate action should be measured holistically, such as on the basis of economic, ecologic and social aspects. Such an approach will contribute 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.
Here you can find the VAUDE Economy for the Common Good Balance Sheet.
Our global economic system is too often based on social exploitation, injustice and environmental destruction. As a result, we as an economy are also contributing to the causes of immigration, such as social inequality and the effects of the climate crisis, which contribute to more people being forced to leave their homes than ever before. A new addition in 2022 is the great wave of refugees in Europe as a direct result of the Ukraine war and Russia's violations of international law.
We are actively promoting refugee integration in the labor market in order to effectively address our responsibilities as an employer. Populist, nationalist and extreme right-wing currents that are serving to prevent this and that respond to complex problems with oversimplified answers are worrying to us. 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 are convinced that diverse teams make better decisions and that innovation is most strongly unleashed where gender differences no longer play a role. We therefore focus on diversity regardless of gender, age or nationality.
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 environment and modified our corporate culture to attract women to management positions. With success: since 2016, over 40 percent of our managers have been women.
The intensive and continuous establishment and maintenance of our family-friendly, inclusive and equal opportunity corporate culture is also now one of our company's strongest success factors. This is why we support initiatives and advocate for equality and diversity.
Diversity and Equal Treatment at VAUDE