Strategy & management
Sustainability at DZ BANK AG and across the DZ BANK Group: How do we cooperate, and what are the hallmarks of ‘responsible’ corporate governance?
Sustainability management is the responsibility of the Strategy & Group Development division. This division is also responsible for stakeholder communication and sustainability reporting. Sustainability ratings are managed by Investor Relations. The individual specialist divisions of DZ BANK are responsible for implementing various measures with regard to the further development of sustainability, and regularly report their progress to the Board of Managing Directors.
To step up the dialog on sustainability in the DZ BANK Group, we brought together the group’s sustainability activities and founded the Group Corporate Responsibility Committee (CRC) in 2014. The committee is made up of the sustainability coordinators of the DZ BANK Group. The Group CRC provides input for the departments so that common standards can be developed. Our objective is to exploit market opportunities and avoid risk while enhancing corporate citizenship.
By signing up to the United Nations Global Compact in 2008, DZ BANK AG committed to ten universally accepted principles covering human rights, labor standards, the environment, and the fight against corruption. In 2013, DZ BANK AG extended this commitment to the following DZ BANK Group companies: Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall, DZ HYP, DZ PRIVATBANK, R+V Versicherung, TeamBank, Union Investment, and VR Smart Finanz. All of these companies use the Global Compact principles as an important guide for their behavior. They support the principles comprehensively and apply them in all areas of their business.
The basis for responsible corporate management is provided by a broad set of components that cover all parts of the business. These range from our general guidelines for business operations and for the investment and lending business in particular to our responsible HR policy, sustainability training courses, sustainability targets, and climate strategy. The resulting framework enables all employees to engage in sustainable practices in their day-to-day work.
DZ BANK attaches particular importance to achieving effective corporate governance. For us this principally means compliance, risk management, reputation management, and transparent decision making.
Compliance plays an important role in the financial sector and is something that DZ BANK and the DZ BANK Group have viewed as a natural part of their activities for many years. Governments as well as national and international regulators are calling on the financial services industry for cooperation and support in the battle against insider trading, market manipulation, corruption, and other criminal behavior, and for the imposition of financial embargoes. Additional rules regulate transactions and subject institutions to disclosure requirements and stringent inspection. This restrictive statutory environment has a fundamental effect on the way we do business as a bank. Furthermore, lawmakers and regulators have made increasing demands on banks’ compliance functions in recent years. At all sites, our staff receive regular compulsory training in banking compliance, the prevention of money laundering, the ban on market price manipulation, and fraud prevention. This compliance training also covers how to fight corruption.
DZ BANK’s code of conduct, introduced in 2012, contains various measures to prevent fraud. These include guidelines for dealing with gifts, written procedures for fraud prevention, a whistleblowing hotline, and training.
DZ BANK AG makes this statement under the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the “Act”). The Act requires the Bank to state what actions it has taken during the financial year ending 31 December 2019 to ensure that neither slavery nor human trafficking took place in its operations or supply chains.
Respect and Protection for Human Rights
DZ BANK is committed to democracy, tolerance, equality of opportunity and to human rights. This conforms with the cooperative values which underpin our activities: Mutuality, partnership and responsibility for the community.
As the central institution of the cooperative banks in Germany, we make an important contribution towards a functioning financial system. We are very conscious of our special responsibility towards customers, business partners, shareholders, employees and society as a whole. Against this backdrop, exactly what business activities we focus on and how we operate these is of central importance.
On signing the Global Compact of the United Nations (UN) in 2008, DZ BANK committed itself to ten globally applicable principles in the field of human rights, labour norms, environment and the fight against corruption. These basic principles form a binding framework for our operations. The prevention of slavery and human trafficking is part of our understanding of human rights. DZ BANK has taken several steps to ensure that slavery and human trafficking does not take place in its supply chain, nor in any part of its business during the financial year.
Human rights and customers
DZ BANK subjects both its own investments as well as those made with the loans and finance it provides to a sustainability assessment which also includes respect for human rights. Since 2009, we have worked with a sustainability checklist for lending and project finance based on the UN Global Compact and the Equator Principles. Using this list, we evaluate all factors relevant for finance as regards their environmental and social risks, also including respect for human rights. Finance for companies which breach internationally recognised principles in the field of human rights and labour law is excluded as a matter of principle.
Human rights and suppliers
Respect and protection for human rights also plays a major role in DZ BANK's selection of service providers and suppliers. All procurement processes must satisfy social and environmental standards which include human rights and labour practice issues. DZ BANK requirements are based, amongst other things, on the principles embodied by the UN Global Compact and applicable conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). As of 2010, we have secured commitments from all suppliers to comply with these standards and principles within the framework of a Sustainability Agreement. Breach can ultimately lead to the exclusion of the supplier.
Human rights and employees
As an employer, DZ BANK respects and promotes the human rights of its employees, the majority of which work in Germany. There, respect for human rights is guaranteed by law. In addition to this, we secure undertakings from our employees to respect human rights based on a Code of Conduct. Corresponding training programmes and seminars are obligatory. We do not tolerate any discrimination of employees or third parties on the basis of age, sex, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, political view, ideology, race, disability or sexual identity.
No complaints in 2020
In case of any questions on human rights or any grounds to suspect a human rights abuse, stakeholders or whistleblowers should contact DZ BANK Compliance, the ombudsman or the works' council. In the year 2020, there were (for the London branch) no formal complaints in relation to human rights abuses or working practices.