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 Prof Dr Michael Otto promote fair trade and the responsible handling of natural resources.
For almost 25 years the Environmental Foundation Michael Otto has paved the way for future-oriented solutions in the areas of environmental protection and nature conservation. 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. The Foundation engages in dialogue and exchange with non-profit organisations, government, science and industry. Among others, it promotes the project F.R.A.N.Z. (the German acronym ‘Für Ressourcen, Agrarwirtschaft & Naturschutz mit Zukunft’ – in English, Promoting Resources, Farming and Nature Conservation with a Future) for greater biodiversity in farming. In addition, the Foundation was a key co-founder of the platform Foundations 20, an association of over 30 international foundations devoted to greater climate protection and a global energy revolution.
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, founded in 2005 by Prof Dr Michael Otto. Its goal: By building an alliance of textile companies that choose CmiA-certified cotton for their manufacturing, it supports self-help for African cotton farmers while protecting the environment. CmiA provides instruction for small farmers, training them in sustainable and efficient cotton production; it stands up for children’s rights, promotes improved working conditions for small farmers and those who work in the cotton-processing industry in Africa, and supports female small farmers in their quest for greater independence. It rejects genetically altered seeds, pesticides labelled as dangerous by international conventions, and the deforestation of primary forest lands. In comparison to conventional cotton, CmiA-certified cotton produces up to 40% lower greenhouse gas emissions and saves around 2,100 litres of water per kilo by global comparison through the elimination of artificial irrigation. In Tanzania and Zambia, on-site cooperation with local cotton enterprises made it possible to develop accessible and inexpensive options for effective organic crop protection. In 2017 over one million small farmers in nine African countries benefited from the initiative. They produced over 496,000 tonnes of sustainable cotton. From that quantity, the Otto Group received an amount equivalent to 27,156 tonnes.
Initiated by Prof Dr Michael Otto and established in 2007, the Foundation 2° brings together prominent business leaders who work on climate change mitigation. Foundation 2° has set itself the goal of supporting policymakers in establishing effective market-economy framework conditions for climate protection and in activating the solution competence of German companies for climate protection. In 2016, for example, it published statements on the federal government's Climate Action Plan 2050 as well as on the topic of carbon consensus. At the heart of the Foundation is the one big goal that gave the initiative its name: limiting the 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.
Following the slogan „The Power of Responsibility“ the Otto Group wants to motivate its almost 51,800 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.