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Responding department: Corporate Communications and Responsibility

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

Respect for human rights is enshrined in the Deutsche Post DHL Group Code of Conduct and the Supplier Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct has been an integral part of our corporate culture since 2006, connecting the Group across divisions and regions around the world. It serves as an “ethical compass”, providing guidelines on ethical behavior in the workplace for some 500,000 employees worldwide. The key pillars of the Code are respect, tolerance, honesty and integrity as well as willingness to assume social responsibility. The guidelines apply to all employees, irrespective of their place in the Group's hierarchy, and also to all divisions.

The Code of Conduct is guided by international standards and guidelines, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Global Compact, the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Code sets out the fundamental principles of observing human rights, equal opportunity, transparency and making clear stands in the fight against discrimination, bribery and corruption. For further information, see the corporate website ([link]).

The Supplier Code of Conduct forms the basis for supplier relations and is an integral component of our contracts with suppliers. The Code places our suppliers under obligation to observe the strategic goals and values of Deutsche Post DHL Group – including those concerning human rights – and to ensure that their own business partners and subcontractors adhere to our standards as well. For further information on the Supplier Code of Conduct, see the corporate website ([link]).

Other Group policies and guidelines, such as the Corporate Health Policy and the Road Safety Code, are also available online ([link]).

Code of Conduct

Supplier Code of Conduct

How are human rights governed in your company?

At Deutsche Post DHL Group, the topic of human rights falls within the responsibilities of the Group Department for Personnel. The Code of Conduct has been an integral part of our corporate culture since 2006, connecting the Group across divisions and regions around the world. It is guided by the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Global Compact and takes into account widely recognized legal standards including applicable anti-corruption conventions and legislation.

The Code of Conduct ([link]), which establishes the expectations for the ethical behavior of our staff, provides the guiding principles for all of our company’s business practices. It addresses all aspects of our daily work, from quality, customer relationships and standards on cooperation and integrity in our operating practices, to corporate responsibility and the environment.

The Supplier Code of Conduct ([link]) forms the basis for supplier relations and is an integral component of our contracts with suppliers. The Code places our suppliers under obligation to observe the strategic goals and values of Deutsche Post DHL Group and to ensure that their own business partners and subcontractors adhere to our standards as well.

The Code of Conduct is the foundation for all other Group policies as well as regional guidelines and rules of conduct, and is available in 21 different languages. Adherence to the Code of Conduct is monitored by our Compliance organization. Violations can be reported through multiple channels, including a dedicated Compliance Hotline. Internal communication channels are used to ensure that employees know about the reporting systems available to them as well as whom to contact within the local compliance organization. Compliance violations can be reported anonymously (where legally permitted) or by providing contact information. All reports are handled professionally and confidentially. We also provide online training to educate employees about the Code of Conduct; the training is currently available in 21 different languages.

We regularly review our Code of Conduct and receive advice from the Group’s Integrity Board to ensure that our Code of Conduct is in line with changing political and social requirements. The Integrity Board comprises Group managers as well as prominent external experts.

Further information on corporate responsibility at Deutsche Post DHL Group is available on the website ([link]). 

How are human rights managed within your company?

As a signatory of the UN Global Compact, our understanding of employee relations includes the protection of human rights. Our approach, which not only encompasses but goes beyond the scope of traditional industrial relations, includes the prohibition of any form of discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced or child labor; it also includes the right to join (or not to join) a union and the freedom to enter into collective bargaining

In expanding our employee relations to include human rights, the Employee Relations Forum (ER Forum) was established in 2013 which is a governance body consisting of employee relations experts from all divisions and from Group headquarters. Its mandate is to proactively address any employee relations issues worldwide that could have cross-divisional or Group-wide impact. The ER Forum met a total of ten times in 2015 alone. Action recommendations made by the ER Forum are discussed and approved by the HR Board, the HR decision-making authority chaired by the Board Member for Personnel.

Additional ER Forum action areas include:

  • Promoting and supporting implementation of the Group’s Human Rights Policy
  • Deepening our understanding of stakeholder requirements and expectations with regard to employee relations and human rights issues
  • Providing best-practice solutions and processes
  • Developing trainings tailored to local needs
  • Facilitating exchange at regional and country level among the divisions

For further information on the Employee Relations Forum, see [link]

Starting in 2013 we also began conducting “Employee Relations Impact Assessments” on the country level as a way to increase awareness of employee relations and anticipate future developments, especially in emerging markets. The assessments are based on a due diligence process in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and help us to better understand employee relations “on the ground” in the respective countries. We also use the assessment to identify challenges in this area and help local management address these challenges with the right tools and processes.

The assessments include round-table sessions with randomly selected employees from various operating areas. Conducted according to our core value of respect, the “round tables” allow employees to voice their opinions. Feedback from these sessions is provided to management anonymously, who are accountable for developing and implementing appropriate actions.

The assessments are conducted by HR experts from Group headquarters to ensure the necessary levels of competence and objectivity. The selection of assessment sites is based on a set of criteria and aligned with the divisions. Following the assessment, an action plan is developed by local management based on the findings and in dialogue with the Group headquarters.

As a globally active logistics provider, we operate in countries with very different political systems, laws, regulations and cultural values. In accordance with our own understanding of compliance and responsible business practice, we ensure that our employees behave in a way that adheres to national laws and regulations, that they identify with the corporate values of Deutsche Post DHL Group and apply our ethical standards in a binding way no matter where they are in the world. Corporate Audit also inspects the management processes within the compliance organization on a routine basis. The results of these inspections are documented and reported regularly to the Board of Management together with recommendations for improvement. Our Supplier Code of Conduct requires that our business partners adhere to these same high standards.

Employees can report potential compliance violations through a special 24-hour web application, or by calling our Compliance Hotline, which is available in 150 countries and in 30 different languages. Internal communication channels are used to ensure that employees know about the reporting systems available to them as well as whom to contact within the local compliance organization. Compliance violations can be reported anonymously (where legally permitted) or by providing contact information. Reported compliance violations are handled professionally and confidentially.

Since we trust our suppliers and business partners to comply with the terms of our contractual agreements, we conduct compliance tests on a random basis. Suppliers are selected on the basis of their economic and strategic significance, and the results of a risk assessment. To enable informed decisions, key Group departments such as HR and Compliance are involved in the process.

If, upon further investigation, a violation of our Supplier Code of Conduct is confirmed, the supplier in question must bindingly commit to address and remedy noncompliant behavior as quickly as realistically possible. Follow-up evaluations are conducted. If the supplier fails to meet our requirements, either in part or in full, further action is taken; in some cases, this can mean the termination of a business relationship.

For further information about assessments and trainings concerning human rights and employee relations at Deutsche Post DHL Group, see [link].

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Maintaining regular dialogue with our stakeholder groups is a high strategic priority for our company and a core component of our CR management approach; it is critical to understanding and effectively addressing the social and business challenges considered most relevant for our Group. We engage in a range of different dialogue formats to deepen the dialogue with our stakeholders and gain an even better understanding of their views and expectations. Some of these formats include roundtable discussions and direct feedback following events. Comprehensive stakeholder surveys also provide key input for updating the materiality analysis, which is an ongoing process.

To intensify relations with strategic suppliers, we held a Deutsche Post DHL Group Supplier Day event at our headquarters in Bonn on May 4, 2015. More than 370 international participants, including representatives from the Group’s strategic suppliers, attended in-depth discussion rounds, lectures and workshops.

Through targeted communication and regular training, we help our employees and business partners to both understand and adhere to our compliance policy and rules. We also require them to report any and all violations of applicable laws, policies and regulations.

Our social engagement activities are bundled and managed in the area called “Society & Engagement”. Working closely with experienced partner organizations, we mobilize our core strengths and competencies as the world’s leading mail and logistics service provider on behalf of society and the environment. Our Group-wide programs help improve educational opportunity and employability for young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, support disaster management at airports, and support local environmental protection and other community projects initiated by our employees.

For further information on our stakeholder relations, see our Corporate Responsibility Report.

Corporate Responsibility Report

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

The company selected the following from a check list:

  • Health (including workplace health & safety, prevention of pollution)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Freedom of expression and/or right to privacy / digital rights
  • Operations in conflict zones
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Women
  • Children (including child labour)

Our position concerning the human rights issues cited above is reflected in our Code of Conduct ([link]) which establishes our expectations for the ethical behavior of our staff and provides the guiding principles for all of our company’s business practices.

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

As explained in the answer to Question 4, we maintain regular dialogue with our internal and external stakeholders. In our external communications, we refer to our human rights activities in our Corporate Responsibility Report, which is produced in accordance with the G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (core option) as well as the UN Global Compact Advanced Level Communication on Progress.

Corporate Responsibility Report 

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

Within Deutsche Post DHL Group, the majority of our workforce is represented by bodies such as employee committees, works councils or unions. The primary responsibility for managing local employee representatives and trade unions rests with the divisions at a country and local site level. At European level, we engage in a variety of initiatives and activities together with our social partners. The Deutsche Post DHL Forum is a joint body of employee representatives (European Works Council) and management representatives (European Management Forum) from 30 European countries. The Forum and its committees met a total of 35 times in the reporting year.

At the global level we engage in regular dialogue with international union federations such as the UNI Global Union (UNI) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The following illustrate how Deutsche Post DHL Group engages in formal mediation procedures and observes their results:

In 2011, the UNI Global Union (UNI) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) submitted a complaint to the UN Global Compact. In response, we provided a statement giving our position concerning the allegations and emphasizing our willingness to enter into further dialogue with UNI and ITF representatives.

Deutsche Post DHL Group was also affected by an OECD complaint received by the German National Contact Point, which UNI and ITF had submitted at the end of 2012, claiming that our conduct violated the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. After we had issued a detailed statement in response to these allegations, the National Contact Point rejected three of the four issues referred to in the complaint and limited the scope to five out of 14 countries (Turkey, Indonesia, Columbia, Vietnam and India). During subsequent mediation talks, the parties agreed in January 2014 on a Joint Statement and no finding was made that Deutsche Post DHL Group was in breach of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

For further information, see our Corporate Responsibility Report ([link]). 

Employees can report potential compliance violations through a special 24-hour web application, or by calling our Compliance Hotline, which is available in 150 countries and in 30 different languages. Compliance violations can be reported anonymously (where legally permitted) or by providing contact information. Reported compliance violations are handled professionally and confidentially.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

Examples of these include multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Fair Labor Association, Global Network Initiative, Voluntary Principles on Security & Human Rights; industry initiatives such as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition; the UN Global Compact and other international, regional or local initiatives.

Partnerships with and membership of national and international organizations are of great strategic importance to our work. The associated exchange of experience plays a key role in the success of our corporate responsibility activities. We use our memberships to help shape overarching sustainability issues. These include the UN Global Compact (UNGC), which we signed more than a decade ago, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the global Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI).

In all the focal areas of our CR activities, we cooperate with a wide range of organizations and institutions, and develop joint solutions for and positions on specific issues. In the area of occupational health and safety, this includes the World Health Organisation (WHO), the ILO Global Standards on Occupational Health and Safety, and the European Road Safety Charter.

See our corporate website for a full list of our memberships and partnerships ([link]). 

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

Our Code of Conduct was revised in 2012 to include a stand-alone section in which we expressly state that we respect human rights and reject all forms of child and forced labor. In addition, we also acknowledge our employees’ right to freedom of association.

Excerpt Code of Conduct ([link]), page 6, Human Rights:

“Deutsche Post DHL Group is guided by the principles of the United Nations Global Compact. We respect the principles of the 1998 International Labour Organization “Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work” in accordance with national law and practice.
We respect human rights within our sphere of influence and conduct our business in a manner that makes us an employer of choice. We are clearly committed to the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor and to the effective abolition of child labor.”

Excerpt Code of Conduct ([link]), page 8, Mutual Respect and Openness

“Our employees are free to join or not to join a union/employee representation of their choice, free from threat or intimidation. We recognize and respect the right to collectively bargain in accordance with applicable law.”

We began conducting “Employee Relations Impact Assessments” at country level in 2013. These are based on a due diligence process in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We are developing and enhancing our Supplier Code of Conduct ([link]) as part of an ongoing process. In the reporting year we began revising the Supplier Code of Conduct, also aligning it with our own Code of Conduct ([link]). The revised version will be adopted in 2016.

The annual Deutsche Post DHL Group Corporate Responsibility Report ([link]) qualifies as a UN Global Compact Advanced Level Communication on Progress ([link]). 

 

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

As a multinational enterprise with a presence in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, Deutsche Post DHL Group continually strives to increase awareness for human rights issues and good employee relations, and to anticipate future developments – especially in emerging markets.

For more information, see [link]