Integrity in practice – strengthening trust
Shared values provide orientation in times of technological transformation and societal change. These values help us make the right decisions and act as a responsible member of society. Integrity is as much a part of everyday business conduct at Daimler as compliance and legal responsibility.
A question of culture
Our stakeholders, for example our shareholders or other societal stakeholders such as various associations, government bodies, our customers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), rightly expect us to act in an ethical manner and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Such ethical conduct is also in our own interest.
We are firmly convinced that we can only be successful over the long term if we fulfill not only our financial responsibility but also our responsibility to society and the environment – on both the local and global levels. For us, this involves more than just obeying laws, as we also seek to align our activities with shared principles and values. The concept of integrity plays a key role here. Integrity is one of the four corporate values that form the foundation of our business activities and shape the way we view ourselves.
For Daimler, integrity means doing the right thing by acting on our values. More specifically, our aspiration is to always comply with internal and external regulations, act in accordance with our corporate values, and listen to our inner compass. This is especially important in situations for which there are no clear rules, or in which the rules that do exist can be interpreted in different ways.
Integrity also plays an important role in the development of new products and services. That’s why our focus on integrity begins with product-creation and decision-making processes. This approach helps reduce legal risks and protect the company’s reputation.
How we make integrity part of our daily business activities
Our Integrity Code defines guidelines for our everyday business conduct, offers our employees orientation, and helps them make the right decisions even in difficult business situations. In doing so, we act in accordance with our corporate principles, which involves more than just complying with laws and regulations. We also take responsibility for our actions and seek to strike a balance between profitability and the needs of people and the environment. Openness and transparency form the foundation of our conduct, and our collaboration is based on trust and respect. We view the diversity of our workforce as one of our strengths.
Employees from different departments and corporate units throughout the Group helped us create this policy. The rules contained in the Code are binding for all employees at Daimler AG and the Group companies, and we expect all of our employees and business partners to adhere to the underlying principles out of a sense of conviction. The Integrity Code has been published in ten different languages. A separate website for the Integrity Code has been set up on the Group’s intranet. This site offers a clear overview of all sections of the Code, as well as detailed information on specific issues and information on contact persons and points of contact for discussing integrity-related issues.
Our Integrity Code also defines requirements for our managers: We expect our executives at all levels to serve as role models in terms of ethical behavior and thus offer employees guidance in this regard.
The task of Integrity Management is to promote and further develop the culture of integrity at the Daimler Group. The unit’s goal is to establish and maintain a common understanding of integrity in order to reduce risks and help ensure Daimler’s sustained success. The unit’s experts for change management, corporate responsibility management, training, and consulting develop innovative and employee-focused approaches and formats that are designed to strengthen the culture of integrity. The Head of Integrity Management reports directly on a regular basis to the member of the Board of Management responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs. The Head of Integrity Management also participates in all executive management meetings.
Because of their strategic significance, we have combined the responsibilities for integrity, compliance, and legal affairs within a single executive division. This division supports all corporate units in their efforts to ensure that these issues remain an integral component of daily business conduct over the long term.
Contacts for integrity-related questions and issues
Our “Infopoint Integrity” is the group-wide contact and advice center for all employees and managers who need advice on integrity-related questions and issues. The Infopoint either offers direct assistance by obtaining the relevant information from the specialists responsible, or else ensures that inquiries are forwarded to the appropriate contact partner. In line with this approach, the Infopoint works together with experts for legal and HR issues, data protection, compliance, diversity, and sustainability as well as other specialist units. A worldwide network of local compliance and legal contact persons is also available to our employees.
Measures for promoting ethical conduct
Whether it’s dialog sessions, training courses, consulting or employee surveys – we employ numerous measures to initiate discussions on the topic of integrity and promote ethical and responsible behavior. In this way we provide employees at all levels of the hierarchy with crucial support in their daily activities and decision-making.
Input from employees
Our “Big Picture Integrity” survey is an important element for strengthening and further developing our culture of integrity. This global employee survey on integrity and compliance was conducted throughout the Group in the fall of 2019. The survey results form the basis for strengthening our corporate culture in this regard, as they reveal areas of action and help us formulate appropriate measures for addressing the associated issues. The results are also used to help define the non-financial goals relating to “Integrity” and “Diversity” for the management remuneration system.
A network of integrity contact persons enables our business divisions to validate, prioritize, and implement integrity-related measures in their organizations. Integrity Management supports such efforts by making contact persons for relevant issues available and offering an Integrity Tool Kit on the intranet that can be used by all interested employees. This Tool Kit contains information, formats for reflection, case studies, and other tools that can be used by individuals or groups to address the topic of integrity. A major focus of our work in 2019 involved dialog sessions that are designed to establish a better understanding of integrity at our various business divisions and the “Speak Up” initiative. We see “Speak Up” as promoting a culture in which all topics can be addressed in an open manner. In addition, we are providing more support to our business divisions with regard to the responsible handling of personal data in connection with the challenges associated with data-based business models. Here we offer assistance to all employees via the company intranet.
Communication at all levels
We conduct an ongoing open dialog with our employees in order to ensure that integrity will remain embedded in the company’s daily business over the long term. We regularly address integrity issues in our internal media and make a wide range of materials available to our corporate units – for example brochures, films, and an app that provides information on integrity, compliance, and legal affairs. We also place great value on face-to-face discussions. For this reason, we regularly conduct individually designed dialog events with employees at all levels of the hierarchy, as well as with external stakeholders. These events are held both in Germany and at our locations abroad.
In the course of these events we provide food for thought, consider integrity from a range of different perspectives, and increase the participants’ awareness of the importance of making ethical decisions. For example, we present case studies that enable employees to experience and discuss the relevance of integrity to daily business operations from various viewpoints, and then put what they learn into practice.
Training for employees and managers
Our measures for further developing our integrity management system also include a broad range of training programs that are continuously expanded and updated. All employees and managers participate in a web-based integrity training program at regular intervals. In order to offer participants optimal support, the training program also contains a management module that is compulsory for all management staff. It explains in detail the role of executives and managers with regard to integrity, compliance, and applicable law. Furthermore, selected seminars designed to enhance the qualifications and skills of our management staff also include modules that focus on integrity.