Responsible corporate governance
As a global company, Bosch is aware of its responsibilities. This applies to our own processes as well as to our cooperation with suppliers and our effect on the society at large.
Compliance refers to the observance of legal requirements and company guidelines. At Bosch, this is an integral part of our corporate values. To this end, we have unequivocally defined our position on legal requirements and ethical issues in our globally applicable Code of Business Conduct. Together with the Bosch values, it provides a foundation that we believe is key to Bosch’s success in business. And because responsible and lawful conduct is important beyond company boundaries, we have formulated our expectations of our business partners in a corresponding code of conduct.
Company-wide compliance management system
Bosch has a global compliance management system headed by a chief compliance officer who reports directly to the board of management. There is also a corporate compliance department and compliance officers in all divisions and regions. Prevention and inspection measures including the dual-control principle, job rotation in sensitive areas, as well as regular audits are designed to support our values-based compliance system. The compliance system also includes a reporting hotline, which associates, business partners, and third parties can use to report irregularities at any time.
The responsibility towards our society has a valuable tradition at Bosch and starts with the fair treatment of our employees. In our Basic Principles of Social Responsibility at Bosch our management and employee representatives acknowledge human rights, equal opportunities, fair working conditions and worldwide standards in occupational health and safety. These eleven guidelines are oriented towards core labour standards of the International Labour Organization and are also obligatory for all of our suppliers.
In tradition of our founder Robert Bosch our corporate social responsibility goes far beyond our company borders. We are committed to common good, especially equalizing opportunities through education. In 2020, the Bosch Group donated a total of 21.2 million euros worldwide for charitable purposes. Our social commitment in the form of donations is carried out by the respective companies and, in some countries, through dedicated institutions.
Some Bosch regional companies have established their own charitable institutions for their social commitment:
The Robert Bosch Stiftung
The Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH is one of the major German foundations associated with a private company in Europe. It works in the areas of health, education, and global issues. With its charitable activities, it contributes to the development of viable solutions to social challenges. For this purpose, the Foundation implements its own projects, enters into alliances with partners, and supports third-party initiatives.
The Global Issues support area centers around the topics of peace, inequality, climate change, democracy, migration, and immigration society. When it comes to education, the focus is on individual and organizational learning, while with its support for health, the Foundation is committed to securing a sustainable health care system that focuses more on people.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung is committed to upholding the values and example of its founder Robert Bosch and continuing his philanthropic work in keeping with the times. The Foundation benefits from over 50 years of experience and a comprehensive global network of experts and practitioners. With the Robert Bosch Academy, it supports interdisciplinary exchange between decision-makers and opinion leaders. The Foundation also supports the work of high-profile, practice-focused think tanks.
The Foundation holds an approximately 94 percent stake in Robert Bosch GmbH and finances its operations from the dividends it receives from this holding. Since it was established in 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has invested around 1.8 billion euros in charitable work.
Responsible supply chain management
Based on a common understanding of ethical and sustainable action, we want to find solutions to global social and ecological challenges together with our business partners. The Basic Principles of Social Responsibility at Bosch and the ten basic principles of the United Nations’ Global Compact are the foundation for our understanding of sustainability. On this basis, we demand that our suppliers comply with generally applicable labor standards — for example, guaranteeing freedom of association, no forced or child labor, zero tolerance of discrimination, and ensuring occupational safety. We also require our suppliers to commit to environmental protection and resource conservation and to actively disseminate these requirements along their own supply chains.
Sustainability aspects are taken into account in supply chain management using a three-stage process:
- We communicate our requirements to our suppliers via the Basic Principles of Social Responsibility at Bosch, the Code of Conduct for Business Partners, and appropriate contractual clauses.
- We use systematic methods to assess compliance with these requirements. Of central importance in this regard are the CSR quick scans and CSR drill-deep assessments.
- By further developing our suppliers’ sustainability performance, we aim to achieve effective and sustainable changes.
Human rights due diligence
In addition to climate action and protecting the environment, we also focus on social aspects in the sustainable design of our supply chains. In particular, we view respect for human rights as a major priority. Against this backdrop, since 2019 we have been working on a systematic process for regularly evaluating the impact of Bosch’s business activities in terms of human rights compliance. Given the particularly high risk associated with the field of raw materials extraction from an environmental and social perspective, we have set this as one of our initial priorities. In 2020, for example, a detailed risk analysis was carried out to systematically identify the raw materials of relevance for the Bosch Group.
Initial measures have already been implemented. For example, strategic suppliers of lithium-ion batteries have been required to disclose their entire supply chains for the raw materials cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel. In parallel, Bosch has performed co-audits and CSR assessments at several sub-suppliers of rare earth elements and in the supply chains for battery cells and electric motor components. In 2020, on-site inspections were also performed along the supply chains for recycled lead for accessories and replacement parts. In addition, Bosch has been participating in Conflict Minerals Reporting since 2014. Last year, it prepared its first illustrative cobalt report in accordance with the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). Bosch is also active in the “Automotive industry dialogue: Respect for human rights along supply and value chains” of the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and two working groups are focusing on the use of copper and lithium, as well as on the establishment of a cross-company complaints mechanism in the automotive industry.
Bosch is founding member of “value balancing alliance e.V.”
Which values do companies create for society – in environmental, social, and financial terms? And how can these contributions be measured and compared? The recently founded “value balancing alliance e.V.”, based in Frankfurt am Main, gets to the bottom of these questions.
Together with seven international companies, Bosch intends to establish a global standard for measuring and disclosing the real value that companies provide to society.
The guiding principle and main goal of the alliance is to take impacts on the environment, the society and the economy into account.
The alliance focuses on defining a global standard that will allow social impact and dependencies along the value chain, as well as their impact on company value, to be evaluated in a common currency unit. The aim is to standardize calculations, ensure comparability of methods, create pilot management accounting schemes, and make outcomes publicly available.
The transformation of business processes requires a concerted effort by all players in the business environment. Bosch believes that, as a company, it shares responsibility for creating sustainable value. “Our ‘Invented for life’ ethos includes taking responsibility for society and the environment. The value balancing alliance is a great opportunity to make this commitment transparent,” says Torsten Kallweit, Head of Health, Safety, Environmental and Fire Protection as well as Sustainability in the Bosch Group.
Over the next three years, the value balancing alliance will translate theoretical findings into a pragmatic, user-oriented model. With the support of independent external bodies such as the OECD and the universities of Oxford, Harvard, Hamburg, and Mannheim, the value balancing alliance will develop and extend transparency and disclosure.
With the foundation of the value balancing alliance, the members have taken a decisive step toward increasing transparency about business decisions, value creation, and loss of value.