We have defined clear responsibilities and internal policies for the implementation of our risk-based management approach to the protection of human rights. We also manage this topic in compliance with globally applicable guidelines and reference frameworks. Where appropriate, we work together with selected partners and industry associations and continuously further develop our due diligence approach.
The lead responsibility for the controlling of human rights issues lies with the Integrity and Legal Affairs executive division of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. The member of the Board of Management responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs works with the procurement units on ensuring human rights compliance and also receives regular information and the corresponding reports on human rights activities from the Chief Compliance Officer and from specialist units in the Social Compliance and Corporate Responsibility Management departments.
Relevant procurement units also provide information on their respective human rights compliance measures to the Procurement Council and the Board of Management members directly responsible for the units in question. This is supplemented by regular reports submitted jointly to the entire Board of Management and the Group Sustainability Board by all of the participating specialist units.
Cross-functional teams work together closely on the development and implementation of suitable preventive activities and countermeasures. The teams consist of human rights and compliance experts, as well as staff from the operational procurement units and, if necessary, from other specialist units as well. The relevant specialist units are responsible for implementing and monitoring the measures developed in each case.
With our commitment we support the implementation of humane working conditions and make an important contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goal "Decent work and economic growth" (SDG 8).
Standards and principles
We respect internationally recognized human rights and are committed to the following national and international standards, among others:
- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights
- the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
- the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
- the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact
- the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
- the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (Germany)
Implementation in corporate guidelines
The human rights issues we focus on and which have been derived from these frames of reference to enable us to fulfil our due diligence obligations form part of our Integrity Code, our Principles of Social Responsibility and Human Rights, and the Responsible Sourcing Standards.
Our Integrity Code sets out clearly what we understand by integrity, which rules apply to everyone and which principles we follow. A central principle is respect for human rights. Mercedes-Benz Group rejects all forms of discrimination in hiring and employment, slavery, child labour, threats against people who defend human rights and other human rights violations. The protection of the fundamental labour rights is important to our company.
For us, social responsibility and the respect for human rights are essential for the long-term success of our company. Our Principles summarise our long-standing commitment to human rights. The Principles are the binding basis for the implementation of human rights standards at Mercedes-Benz and have been adopted by the Board of Management, the General Works Council and the World Employee Committee of Mercedes-Benz Group AG together with the international trade union federation IndustriALL Global Union. In this way, the company is supplementing and further specifying the requirements for compliance with human rights in its Integrity Code, and updating the Principles of Social Responsibility that have existed since 2002. At the same time, we are fulfilling a requirement of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
These Principles are binding around the world for all employees of Mercedes-Benz Group as well as its controlled companies.
Sustainability is the guiding principle of our business strategy and thus the core of our business activities. This also characterizes the cooperation with our suppliers. We can only achieve the goal of a sustainable supply chain together with our partners. We therefore work closely with our direct suppliers, and oblige them to comply with our Responsible Sourcing Standards, to pass them on their employees as well as to their upstream value chains and to monitor compliance with them.
Our Responsible Sourcing Standards define our requirements with regard to working conditions, human rights, environmental protection, safety, business ethics, and compliance. They derive from the requirements which we apply in our own business activities and contain minimum requirements as a contractually binding prerequisite for business relationships with our suppliers.
The Responsible Soucing Standards identify the following human rights aspects as focal topics:
- Free choice of employment
- Condemnation of child labour
- Equal opportunity and a ban on discrimination Freedom of association and the right to engage in collective bargaining Health management and occupational safety
- Fair remuneration, working times, and social benefits
The Sustainable Sourcing Standards also refer to all the other valid and internationally recognized human rights.
We encourage our suppliers to go beyond the minimum requirements and align with our supplementary expectation.
Group-wide training courses
We have developed specially tailored training courses on human rights for the various departments and target groups in their respective functions. In order to further sensitize all employees to the importance of the topic and their own possibilities for influencing the respect and protection of human rights, our integrity training contains exemplary cases and complex situations from everyday work. Especially for our compliance experts, we have developed a supplementary training course in which we explain in detail our responsibility for human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our aim is to sensitize specifically to human rights risks and enable their identification.
Membership of associations
Mercedes-Benz is active in various associations in order to exchange ideas across all sectors and to commit itself to the topic of human rights. These include:
- UN Global Compact: Mercedes-Benz Group is a member of the LEAD group and takes part in two so-called Action Platforms (Decent Work in Global Supply Chains and Reporting).
- German Global Compact Network: Mercedes-Benz Group is the sponsor for human rights issues and a member of the steering committee.
- econsense – forum for sustainable development: Mercedes-Benz Group is the sponsor for human rights issues and a member of the Supply Chains working group.
- World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): As a member, Mercedes-Benz Group takes part in the Business & Human Rights Project
In addition, Mercedes-Benz Group initiated the “Human Rights Roundtable of the Automotive Industry”, which brings together representatives of the automotive industry with political representatives. Under the leadership of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, this initiative was expanded to include additional stakeholder groups as part of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and transformed into an official automotive industry dialogue. The aim is continuing to make joint contributions to improving the human rights situation along the global supply and value chains of the German automotive industry.
Mercedes-Benz Group Sustainability Dialogue
Feedback from our stakeholders in the human rights working group of the “Mercedes-Benz Group Sustainability Dialogue” is also important for further development of our management approach to human rights. In this group, we discuss and review our progress and challenges in implementing our management approach on an annual basis.