The United Nations' Guidelines for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were adopted in 2011 and provide the basis and basic framework for corporate responsibility for human rights. At the end of 2016, the German government translated the requirements into a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP). The Otto Group has set up its due diligence process in accordance with the UNGPs.
Alexander Birken, CEO of the Otto Group
"For the Otto Group, human rights are a highly valuable asset. We have been committed to fair and safe working conditions for over 25 years and represent an open-minded working culture that promotes diversity and appreciation. Our Human Rights Declaration is a logical continuation of our long-standing commitment and an obligation that people remain in the centre of our actions in the future. This includes in particular our own employees, the people in our supply chains and our customers. We actively assume our responsibility to protect human rights, work continuously on improvements and constantly develop our business processes to meet our responsibility to respect human rights. The Human Rights Declaration is an expression of this endeavour."
The Human Rights Declaration defines our aspiration with regards to human rights in our companies and the value chain. In our view, human rights are indivisible, and it is the task of us and our business partners to achieve compliance with human rights jointly and holistically. We base our Declaration of principles on general international reference instruments, such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN-UDHR). The Declaration also provides an overview of the key processes that we have implemented in the Otto Group in order to fulfil our human rights due diligence.
We regularly analyse and identify potential risks and violations of human rights throughout our value chain. To do this, we use a wide range of information: in addition to the quantitative results from our strategic impACT process, information from our group companies, insights and findings from programmes in the supply chain, we also use dialogue with civil society and political players, other companies, associations and trade unions. This takes place mainly through exchanges in multi-stakeholder initiatives. As part of our risk analysis, we identify and prioritise salient issues, i.e. risks that are defined as particularly serious. For the Otto Group these lie in particular in the supply chain. Our main challenges and risks relate to occupational safety, child labour and forced labour in the deeper supply chain, as well as freedom of association and discrimination. But we also see it as our duty to continuously evaluate and improve our processes with regard to our own employees, such as the promotion of anti-discrimination. As a global digital group, privacy, data protection and data security are of central importance to the Otto Group across all business models.
For our identified salient issues, we derive measures to counter the risks. A particular focus is on the supply chain of goods for own and licensed brands, where we have identified significant opportunities to influence. The measures, all aiming at improvements, range from more sustainable raw materials, audits and certifications, improved production processes to dedicated training measures for factories. We are actively involved in alliances and initiatives (amfori, German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Fashion for Good, Accord on fire and building safety) and have been promoting the development of better processes in the cultivation and production of raw materials for many years (e. g. Aid By Trade Foundation / Cotton made in Africa). Last but not least, we also anchor our efforts in internal guidelines and rules and thus arrange for long-term implementation (Code of Conduct, Supplier Declaration, Code of Ethics).
In case human rights violations occur despite our actions and efforts, our whistleblower system is available to receive complaints. These can be reported by anyone connected with the Otto Group, whether it be employees in the supply chain, Otto Group employees, customers or affected residents. All indications are carefully followed up. In addition, through our membership in the amfori BSCI, the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the Bangladesh Accord, we make a significant contribution to finding industry-specific solutions.
We are aware that human rights due diligence is an ongoing process. For this reason, we are constantly working on our own processes and are adapting them to the given circumstances. We report regularly on our progress in our Annual Report and on the homepages of the Otto Group and the individual Group companies.