We have implemented an integrated compliance programme across the Group to achieve conduct that is compliant both with the law and with regulations. A central element of this programme is the self-commitment made by the Group management not to tolerate violations of applicable laws and to impose sanctions. The programme also includes internal guidelines and measures that express the legal provisions in concrete terms. In addition to regular communication of these guidelines, there are compliance letters to the management and the entire workforce, such as the annual letter from the Chairman of the Managing Board and ad hoc circulars on current issues, to raise awareness of the topic of compliance.
We also offer the internet- and telephone-based reporting system “SpeakUp”, which replaced the existing reporting system “MySafeWorkplace” on 1 January 2020, and employee training that makes use of modern media, such as electronic learning modules. The range of electronic courses, which must be completed by specified groups of employees, covers topics such as the Code of Business Conduct (e.g. discrimination and harassment at the workplace), competition legislation, and the prevention of corruption.
The entire compliance programme is reviewed on an ongoing basis for any necessary adjustments with regard to current legal and social developments, and it is improved and developed accordingly. Violations of applicable laws and internal guidelines will be sanctioned. In addition, suitable corrective and preventive measures are taken to help prevent similar incidents in the future.
Group-wide implementation of the compliance programme is monitored by regular and special audits by Group Internal Audit as well as via special half-yearly compliance reporting by the Director Group Legal & Compliance to the Managing Board and the Audit Committee of the Supervisory Board. The latter monitors the effectiveness of the compliance programme and verifies in particular whether it adequately satisfies the legal requirements and recognised compliance standards. An additional quarterly report regularly informs the Managing Board members with regional responsibility about the most important compliance incidents in their Group areas.
Every three years, we conduct a comprehensive analysis to assess and prevent corruption risks and possible conflicts of interest. A rolling approach ensures that different countries are analysed each year as part of this cycle. First, the potential risks within a country organization are assessed. Then, the measures already in place to limit these risks are evaluated, and finally, we examine whether further measures are needed. On the basis of this assessment, an action plan is drawn up for each country, and its implementation is monitored by the Group Legal & Compliance department.
In the area of competition legislation, we have a comprehensive cartel reporting system on cartel investigation proceedings. An annual competition legislation update takes place at the level of the Managing Board and of the employees who report directly to the members of the Managing Board with responsibility for sales. Furthermore, annual qualitative assessments of the cartel risks take place in the countries. A regular external audit of the Antitrust Compliance Programme by a specialist law firm is conducted every three years.
In 2017, we launched a risk analysis for human rights. Among other issues, this explicitly examines the risk of violating the rights of indigenous peoples. By the end of 2020, we had carried out a human rights risk evaluation in almost all our country organizations. This included identifying potential risks and existing measures as well as determining additional measures to be implemented. The aim is to repeat these risk assessments regularly at an interval of approximately three years. Our suppliers must subscribe to fundamental human rights relevant in the business context, such as the prohibition of child and forced labour, fair and safe work conditions, freedom of association, and a ban on discrimination.
In 2020, we continued to further roll out the central supplier management system across the Group. Additional local and global measures to evaluate suppliers from a sustainability perspective were incorporated into an updated version of the global purchasing policy at the end of 2019. In 2021, we will continue to gradually introduce these measures in the various countries.