Search Report
2019 Sustainability Report
published 2020/08/01

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 rise of nationalism and right-wing extremism as well as the many global conflicts and wars that are driving millions of people to flee their homelands. We have many direct points of contact with these issues as a company. Based on fundamental values such as humanitarianism, tolerance and trust as well as our own experience, we, the management of VAUDE, want to take a non-partisan 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 before being forced to flee their homes.

Throughout Germany, and also here in southern Germany where our company headquarters are located, refugees are finding a new homeland. 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

In our experience, access to the labor market is an essential element for successful integration. Employment not only secures the income of refugees; it also creates a regular daily routine, provides opportunities to establish social contacts and affords validation.

Politically persecuted people, such as those from countries experiencing civil war, have a right to asylum in Germany. We are therefore advocating for well-structured, fair asylum procedures for people who have fled to Germany because their lives and health are endangered in their home countries – one that makes rapid integration into the labor market, as well as access to education and health care possible. Asylum seekers must not be expelled back to countries where they will face discrimination or social misery.

We also urgently call for refugees who have already been successfully integrated into the labor market to be given prospects to stay in the country. Together with many other companies, including as a founding member of the entrepreneurial initiative “Bleiberecht durch Arbeit” (Right to stay through work), we are committed to these demands at the state and federal policy level. As an employer of refugees, we need transparent and non-bureaucratic legal certainty when hiring these refugees. The deportation of employees not only creates great anxiety and uncertainty among those directly affected 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 in many professions for years. Especially in the commercial sector, be it in production, logistics, crafts or gastronomy, the tense situation in the labor market in Baden-Württemberg is assuming threatening proportions. We at VAUDE are also feeling the effects of this – for example, for sewing machine operators and welders in our Manufaktur production plant. Here, the refugees who have been hired are valuable workers that we rely on in order to ensure the maintenance of ongoing operations and continuing growth. We welcome the fact that the German government has introduced immigration law for skilled workers. However, this law does not affect our need for workers who are trained by the company itself.

Recommended reading:

Environmental and species protection, climate change and energy system transformation

Economic activity – the manufacturing of products and services – always goes hand in hand with the consumption of resources. The resulting negative environmental impact 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.

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 products, for example, through the use of resource-saving materials, environmental management training in the supply chain, climate balancing and environmentally friendly energy sources. In doing so, we voluntarily go far beyond the legal requirements. But this also means that because of our level of commitment, we have higher costs that our 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 a reasonable CO2 tax, due diligence or supply chain law, binding requirements in chemicals legislation or for 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 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 that are in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 °C or well below 2 °C.

The protection of nature and species is a heartfelt concern for us. In view of the loss of biodiversity, we see an urgent need to change our mindsets and act. We welcome demands such as those for legal regulations to reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides etc., as well as measures to preserve protected areas and increase biodiversity in our flora and fauna.

We attach great importance to the environmentally friendly practice of mountain and bike sports activities in nature. As a partner of the German Alpine Association (DAV), we support its objectives for the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region as well as for environmentally friendly mountain sports.

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

Economic system and entrepreneurship aligned with the common good

We believe that business activity involves responsibility for contributing to the public 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, generally speaking, 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 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.

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

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Diversity, gender equality, women quotas

We are convinced that diverse teams make better decisions and are stronger in terms of innovation power 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 environment and modified our corporate culture to attract women to management positions. With success: since 2016, 43 percent of our managers have been women. Moreover, the intensive and continuous establishment and maintenance of our family-friendly and equal opportunities 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

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.

We value this 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 for our commercial success to know and understand the most diverse 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. However, compartmentalization and isolation are not solutions. We call on politicians to engage in a constructive and joint effort to find the best solutions and believe that only by working together can the EU overcome these challenges.

GRI:   415-1
Political contributions
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