We seek to engage with all stakeholders in order to share views and experiences and discuss controversial issues in a constructive manner. Our goal here in every situation is to achieve a fruitful dialogue that benefits all parties.
We define stakeholders as individuals and organizations that have legal, financial, ethical or ecological expectations regarding Daimler. One of the criteria for identifying and weighting stakeholders is the extent to which a person or group is affected by our company’s decisions or, conversely, can influence such decisions. Our primary stakeholders are our employees, customers, creditors and shareholders, as well as our suppliers. However, we also communicate regularly with civil groups such as NGOs, as well as with analysts, professional associations, trade unions, the media, scientists, politicians, municipalities and residents and neighbors in the communities where we operate.
Dialogue at the Group level
In order to maintain effective relationships with our stakeholders, we have defined areas of responsibility, communication channels and dialogue formats that are valid throughout the Daimler Group. Our Corporate Responsibility Management department is responsible for establishing an institutionalized and proactive dialogue with our stakeholders. This dialogue is then coordinated by our Corporate Sustainability Board and the Corporate Sustainability Office. The central format for our stakeholder dialogue is the Daimler Sustainability Dialogue, which has been held annually in Stuttgart since 2008 and brings various stakeholder groups together with representatives of our Board of Management and executive management. Each Sustainability Dialogue event focuses on sharing ideas in a variety of themed workshops. The Daimler representatives obtain feedback from the external participants and work together with the stakeholders to achieve agreed-upon targets throughout the course of the year. They then report at the event in the following year on the progress made in the interim. We held our tenth Daimler Sustainability Dialogue in Stuttgart during the year under review.
In order to discuss local challenges and promote the implementation of sustainability standards around the world, we organize Daimler Sustainability Dialogue events in other countries as well. Such dialogue events have been held in China, Japan, the United States and Argentina. During the year under review, external experts and stakeholders also attended the fifth Daimler Sustainability Dialogue in Beijing, where they spoke to Daimler representatives about environmental protection, economics, human resources, and integrity and legal affairs.
The Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility has been an important source of input for Daimler since 2012. The board’s independent members from the fields of science and business, as well as from civic organizations, utilize an external point of view to offer critical and constructive support for the integrity and corporate responsibility process at Daimler. Board members have extensive experience with issues related to ethical conduct and transportation and environmental policy and contribute their different points of view to discussions. The board holds regular meetings with members of the Board of Management and other Daimler executives. During the year under review, the Advisory Board also held a joint meeting with the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board. Meetings of the Advisory Board during the reporting year focused on current topics and challenges, including ethical aspects in connection with autonomous driving, methods for measuring progress with regard to integrity, the current debate on emissions, Daimler’s approach to respecting human rights, and the development of a management culture for the digital age.
We also utilize online and print media, discussions with experts, workshops, local and regional dialogue events and stakeholder surveys for our dialogue with stakeholders. For example, as part of the process for validating our new Sustainability Strategy 2030, we once again conducted an extensive online survey of our stakeholders in 2017. This survey basically confirmed the prioritization of focus topics carried out within the framework of our strategy process. Representatives from various specialist units at Daimler participate in associations, committees and sustainability initiatives such as the UN Global Compact and econsense — Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business. We also stage interdisciplinary conferences as a way to conduct an active dialogue with stakeholders. One example is the second specialist conference on ethics and the legal situation with regard to autonomous driving, which was held in October 2017.
We regularly receive inquiries from stakeholders concerning various sustainability-related topics. These inquiries are addressed directly by specific specialist departments and units in a decentralized manner. This approach brings our stakeholders closer to our business operations and enables specialized knowledge to be directly incorporated into the dialogue. Reports on stakeholder inquiries are also presented in the meetings of our Sustainability Board and Sustainability Office. These reports are used to formulate key strategic policies for sustainability management. The Sustainability Board and the Sustainability Office also serve as coordination centers for dialogue with our stakeholders on interdisciplinary issues.
Dialogue on the local and regional levels
We also engage in a dialogue with the stakeholders at our locations. One example here is our planned Testing and Technology Center in Immendingen on the Danube. We sought to engage in a dialogue with the people in the region and address their concerns from the very beginning. Our Daimler Forum Immendingen also makes it possible for local residents to obtain information on the status of the project at any given time.
In connection with specific occasions and projects, we address questions, concerns, criticism and suggestions made by stakeholders at our locations and conduct an open-ended dialogue with them. We also stage proactive dialogue and information events on current topics. The results of all of our dialogue measures are incorporated into decision-making and decision-implementation processes at the company.