The Otto Group takes responsibility beyond its business activity for its social environment. In Germany, the Group supports young talent and first-time professionals with social projects. Internationally, it is active against child labour in India, for example. The foundations created by Dr Michael Otto promote fair trade and the responsible handling of natural resources.
The Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection is strategically engaged in supporting future-oriented nature conservation and sustainable development. Its goal is to preserve a liveable environment for future generations. To achieve this, it invests in education and research for environmentally friendly action and supports projects for the preservation of rivers, lakes, meadows and wetlands. In addition, the Foundation engages in dialogue and exchange with non-profit organisations, government, science and industry. In 2013, the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The Aid by Trade Foundation was founded in 2005 by Dr Michael Otto and has since then acted independently of the Otto Group. With its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative it aims to help people to help themselves. The objective is to aid African smallholder farmers in improving their own lives through more efficient cultivation methods and to protect the environment in the cultivation regions. Today, CmiA is working in ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa with more than 650,000 cotton farmers and has a positive impact on the lives of over 5.5 million people.
Established in 2007, the Stiftung 2° (2° Foundation) is an initiative of CEOs, Managing Directors and family entrepreneurs. It stands for the long-term commitment of business leaders to climate protection. Together with representatives from science, society and government, the members of 2° are working on specific long-term solutions for ambitious and effective climate protection. The focus is on the Foundation’s overriding goal, which also gave the initiative its name: limiting average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
Together with the Salut Salon ensemble, the Otto Group has created an unusual music project for children and young people in Hamburg. It teaches them about classical music in a playful way and motivates them to make music in choirs and orchestras. Young musicians can join a district choir for free, for example, or learn instruments. In addition, The Young ClassX offers numerous music workshops and transports children to concerts in the ‘MusikMobil’. The project is supported by the Elbphilharmonie and the Federal State of Hamburg Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, amongst others.
Since March 2008, the Otto Group has campaigned against child labour in India, together with the human-rights organisation terre des hommes. Its goal is to enable children in three impoverished districts of New Delhi and one district in the state of Bihar to gain access to education and vocational training. In this process, the situation of the children’s families is also taken into account. The parents are supported in building up their own small business, so that they are able to afford their children's education. In turn, the children can deepen their knowledge in learning centres, evening schools and children’s clubs, thus developing their joy of learning.
Following the slogan „The Power of Responsibility“ the Otto Group wants to motivate its more than 54,000 employees worldwide to engage themselves at work and in their private lives. The goal is to promote profitability, innovation, diversity and sustainability, and to help shape the future of the Otto Group. Employees can enter their existing or future engagement on an internal website. These more than 4,500 engagements range from financial contributions to children's organisations, funded school projects and cross-generation activities, to voluntary commitment in the environmental and social area to energy saving and sharing actions in the company.