Digital responsibility

Corporate digital responsibility
Corporate digital responsibility

Digitization is both an opportunity and a challenge. It is changing our daily life and work routines. It is up to all of us to determine how this permanent transformation will unfold. That is why the Otto Group is developing solutions for value-oriented digitization. And why we promote discourse throughout society by supporting initiatives and projects to jointly create a responsible framework with other companies, politicians, and civil society — for digitization designed for people.



Digital Responsibility in detail

Our aim is to shape digitization within our sphere of influence in a value-oriented manner and to take action together with partners from politics, business, science and civil society. In doing so, we rely on exchange and cooperation with other players.

Data and security

Data protection as laid out in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is much more than just a legal requirement for the Otto Group. Naturally, we comply with these regulations, which are the minimum standards for us. But in some respects we also go beyond them - which is bindingly formulated in a number of guidelines. We view data protection as an ethical obligation. The secure and trust-based handling of our customers’ data is part of what we view as our digital responsibility. The confidence of our customers is the basis for our growth.

Projects and initiatives:

  • Responsible AI guidelines: In order to put people at the center of the development of algorithms, the Otto Group company OSP has developed guidelines on the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI). This way, responsible data processing is promoted and unintended consequences of algorithmic decisions can be avoided. Top premise: We develop AI applications for people - not against them.
  • Ethical AI community: The Group-wide Ethical AI Community was founded in 2021 and strengthens internal networking and exchange between data and AI experts. By sharing experiences and discussing ethical challenges related to AI, the community promotes a more responsible approach to AI. The community also deals with the risks and measures to avoid bias. In addition, the first AI governance approaches are currently being developed in this group.

Digital education and participation

Digitization requires flexibility. Knowledge and skills often require quick updates so you do not get completely lost in the speed of digital change. Our employees therefore need tools that help them to further their education. It is our responsibility to provide these tools. We are addressing this need with the learning initiative TechUcation. At the same time, it is important in terms of digital participation that our offerings, for example in online commerce to be barrier-free. They must be intuitively applicable. So that people without special expertise can also make use of them. We work on this every day.

Projects and initiatives:

  • TechUcation: To ensure that learning and digital education is a natural part of the daily working routine, the digital learning platform Masterplan was rolled out as part of the Group-wide “TechUcation” training initiative. The aim is to ensure that learning and digital education can take place independently, individually, and integrated into everyday work - regardless of task, age, or hierarchy.
  • Digital education program TechUcation@school: This initiative is a further development of the TechUcation learning program and was launched in Hamburg in 2021. The back story: Teachers are important multipliers in our society and exert considerable influence on how digitization is taught in schools today. This is why we cooperate with the Hamburg Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and the Hamburg State Institute for Teacher Training and School Development to produce teaching materials on this topic that are tailored precisely to the needs of schools. The over 20,000 teachers in Hamburg can therefore visit the learning management system operated by the city to obtain online training on digitization topics and receive support in designing teaching units – for instance on artificial intelligence, 3D printing, democracy and other socio-political issues related to digitization. The program is scalable and can be adopted by other education authorities and federal states as well.
  • Develop<HER>: This initiative of the Group-wide Female Business Network Plan F, founded in 2016, aims to offer women access to the tech world, break down barriers and leverage potential. It is not only Otto Group employees who are addressed - the events are basically open to any interested woman, regardless of her professional background.

Digital technologies for climate and environmental protection

Data and digital technologies can also make an important contribution to climate and environmental protection – for instance if they are used to optimize processes and improve their resource efficiency, as is the case in the Otto Group.

Projects and initiatives:

  • "App BHive: The BHive app, used by some companies within the Otto Group, serves to digitize chemicals management at facility level and thus enable more conscious, environmentally friendly and resource-saving handling. The overarching goal: to gain an overview of the chemicals used and to replace hazardous substances. After piloting with around 35 facilities in 2021, the application is now scheduled for increased roll-out at other sites in 2022.
  • Digital footprint: The Otto Group is working on a carbon footprint app that employees can use to evaluate personal CO2 emissions - caused by e-mails, for example. The usage time of personal technical work devices will also be included.
  • "Digital Spring Cleaning": The aim of this Group-wide campaign is to make employees aware of the environmental impact of storing unused data. Specifically, all employees are called upon to clean up digitally and free up storage space.
  • "Sustainable Programming Initiative": Within this initiative, our Group company Otto Group Solution Provider (OSP) has developed a platform for analyzing the environmental impact of IT systems. The platform will allow employees to measure and optimize the ecological impact of their systems in the long term. Another element involves the establishment of a knowledge database in cooperation with partners like the Hasso Plattner Institute. The initiative dates back to a “Sustainable Programming Challenge”, in which OSP employees were called upon to present concrete fields of action for more sustainable digitization.

Value-based digital economy

We are committed to an independent, competitive and value-based digital economy in Europe.  We are committed to a model that sets itself apart from the U.S. and Chinese path by following the rules of the social market economy and being defined by respect for society and a sustainable economy, and which places people at the center of the digital transformation. This model is based on the responsible handling of resources without losing sight of entrepreneurial success. Together with politics, science and business, we want to secure the future viability of Germany and Europe as a business location. For healthy growth that does not come at the expense of people, social peace and the environment.

Projects and initiatives:

  • ZukunftsWerte initiative: Together with other entrepreneurs, managers, politicians, academics and representatives from civil society, we would like to use the discourse and exchange of experiences to outline a path for what value-oriented digitalization can look like and how we can seize the opportunities of digitalization courageously and responsibly. With this initiative, the Otto Group would like to contribute to jointly strengthening the future viability and values of Germany and Europe as a business location and to move from talk to action.
  • Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) initiative: As a founding member of the initiative launched in 2018 by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, we want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization and shape them in a responsible and value-oriented manner. A jointly developed CDR Code contains principles and objectives that guide our actions and are aimed at stakeholders from business, politics and civil society as well as consumers.
  • Business Council for Democray: The Otto Group participates in this network, an initiative of the non-profit Hertie Foundation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. The goal is to contribute to strengthening democracy and its resilience by means of a networking program and employee training.