Decisive dialogues: Stakeholder discussions

Anyone who is actively engaged in society needs to know what relevant groups are thinking. This, in turn, requires regular interaction and exchange of opinions and perspectives.

Hermes is in constant contact with its stakeholders: people and groups that are or could be affected by Hermes' work. Direct discussions, survey, events and workshops make it possible to clarify expectations and demands in advance and even to help in decision-making if needed.

Hermes' key stakeholders include employees, customers, contract partners, suppliers, business associations, competitors, non-governmental organisations, the media, the critical public, the scientific community, policy makers and government agencies, among others. Hermes uses different channels to communicate with them, from surveys to events to workshops and political initiatives, up to and including classic media and public relations work. The goal is, through dialogue with our stakeholder groups, to identify risks and opportunities early on and to combine efforts and take advantage of synergies.

Beyond that, the integration of Hermes in the corporate responsibility activities of the Otto Group in terms of both staff and substance has proven beneficial. In 2014, the Otto Group received the German government's renowned CSR award. At the same time, Hermes is the main provider of purchasing and distribution logistics for the Otto Group. Contacts with stakeholders that are relevant to the concern as a whole are maintained by the parent company in its own database. Furthermore, in 2012, the systematic exchange of views was further professionalised through a web-based stakeholder survey.

The survey questioned 136 stakeholders about sustainability at Hermes. The analysis of the results revealed that particular emphasis was placed on the following themes:

  • Reducing transport and traffic-related CO2 emissions
  • Appropriate compensation of employees at Hermes as well as employees of suppliers and subsidiaries
  • Product transparency
  • Anchoring sustainability in the company culture
  • Generating impulses for the sustainable development of the industry.

This result was very pleasing for Hermes, as it shows that Hermes' social engagement to date has essentially been the right approach. However, the result both shows the way ahead and represents a challenge for the future.

Hermes Future Forum

In addition, in 2010 the company created the Hermes Future Forum, its own platform where the future of corporate responsibility is debated. The event, which takes place every two years, is intended to generate sustainable impulses and to provide managers with perspectives for use in actual corporate practice. In so doing, it hopes to shine light on the global responsibility of corporate actors in increasingly complex social and political contexts.

The renowned speakers at these events reflect a particularly relevant spectrum of international expertise in this subject:

  • In 2010, speakers included Prof. Muhammad Yunus, who received the Nobel Prize for the development of microcredits, and Dr. Kofi Anan, who launched the Global Compact initiative during his tenure as UN Secretary General.
  • In 2012, speakers included Jeremy Rifkin, author of authoritative books such as “The Third Industrial Revolution” and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, who spoke on the blessing and the curse of the growth-hungry economy. Olin Liu, Chief Economist of the China International Capital Corporation Ltd., explained her view of the Euro crisis and public debt.
  • In the third edition of the Hermes Future Forums in 2014, the focus was on the future of innovation. As had become customary, the discussion was unconventional and included experts like Dan Cobley, former managing director of Google, Kate Kui, vice-president of the Chinese online retail giant JD.com, as well as Frederik Willem de Klerk, former president of South Africa and 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize with Nelson Mandela.

With its three events to date, the exclusive, high-quality Hermes Future Forum has proven to be a top conference for decision-makers – but also an important building block in Hermes’ long-term sustainability efforts.

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