Values and Guidelines

Responsible action: Rules form the foundation

(Photo: Hermes)

As well as being firmly anchored in Hermes' DNA, sustainability is a key factor in carrying out lasting and successful business. Clear, ethical values and binding principles of conduct help us secure sustainable action.

Besides complying with national and international laws and standards, three sets of guidelines are of key significance:

  1. The Otto Group's Code of Conduct for Service and Non-Merchandising Goods
  2. The Otto Group's Code of Conduct for Merchandising Goods
  3. The Hermes Code of Conduct (Social Standards and Conditions of Employment) (German Version)

These guidelines apply to all Hermes employees and are also a vital element of our business relations with contacting partners and suppliers.

Binding national and international working standards

The Otto Group's Code of Conduct for Services and Non-Merchandising Goods is mandatory for all Hermes companies. It applies to all service providers and suppliers who work together with the Hermes Group. The Code of Conduct regulates compliance with national law and internationally-recognized working standards and draws on United Nations' standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on Children's Rights and the respective conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In addition to this, the Code of Conduct for Merchandising Goods regulates requirements regarding social standards and employment conditions in the production process. This particular Code of Conduct is based on the conventions of the ILO, the principles of the UN Global Compact, the OECD's Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the globally recognized standards of the Business Social Compliance Initiative BSCI) which the Otto Group has been supporting since 2003 and which aims at improving production standards in sourcing markets.

All business partners of Hermes Germany GmbH and Hermes Einrichtungs Service GmbH & Co KG are required to sign the Hermes Code of Conduct. This applies to its own employees as well as those employed at it contracting partners. In supplementing the Codes of Conduct issued by the Otto Group, the Hermes Code of Conduct regulates issues such as employee protection, working conditions and minimum wages.

Monitoring and verification of standards

We expect each cooperation partner to strictly adhere to our Code of Conduct as the basis of our business relations. Hermes was the first and is so far the only logistics service provider in the industry to develop an audit system. This was achieved in 2012 in collaboration with SGS-TÜV Saar GmbH and customised to meet the needs of our business model. This audit system regularly checks general contractors and contractual partners on the final mile.

A special whistleblower system within Hermes' internal HR legal department not only enables Hermes employees but also the employees at contractual partners to report complaints or information on legal infringements and violations of internal guideline and the Code of Conduct.

The Hermes Code of Conduct addresses CR-relevant issues in four areas

ComplianceEmploymentEnvironmentData protection
Banning child labour:
Based on ILO Conventions 138 and 182 and the UN Convention on Children's Rights.

Banning bribery and corruption:
Behaviour based on fairness and compliance with respective laws.

Employment in compliance with legal provisions:
Complying with laws and provisions in the respective country, including: working times, minimum wages, holiday entitlement, continued remuneration (sick pay), maternity protection.
Dealings with employees:
Prohibiting discrimination of all kinds, promoting diversity.

Rejecting dumping wages, recognising minimum social standards via the Social Charter.

Labour practices and decent work.
Treating employees with dignity and respect, offers of development courses.

Health and safety:
Hermes and its contractual partners are responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy working environment, and for protecting and preserving the natural basis of life.

Information and communication:
Securing awareness of the Code of Conduct.
Environmental protection:
Complying with environmental standards and reducing environmental impact.
Protecting personal data/ informational self-determination:
Freedom of decision on the storage and use of personal data, adequate level of security when backing up data.

Responsibly managing risk

As an international trading and logistics provider, Hermes offers a range of services all along the retailing value chain. Its daily dealings with increasing requirements in a highly competitive environment also includes managing risk. Hermes does this with the help of a risk management system. We record and update significant business risks specific to each division on an annual basis and develop appropriate countermeasures.

This also records risks in the field of environmental and social responsibility, including risks relating to corruption. Our Code of Conduct clearly stipulates that any form of bribery and corruption will not be tolerated. The whistleblower system we have implemented allows anyone to report any alleged misdemeanours. Moreover, the neutral ombudsman can be contacted anonymously, should suspicions arise. This ombudsman is a person external to the Hermes organisation. Such cases are then investigated and clarified in an internal audit.

In the three years under review (2015 to 2017), two cases of suspected corruption were reported. However, investigations could not uphold the suspicion. All new employees in risk areas are trained in matters of corruption prevention in online courses.