Political dialog and representation of interests

As a company with global operations, we have to deal with a wide range of political and societal changes and decisions that have a major impact on our daily business activities. It is therefore important for Daimler that we represent the interests of our company in an open and trusting dialog and develop joint solutions. The overarching goal of our approach to representing our interests is to harmonize the company’s interests with the interests of society at large as far as possible. On the one hand, we bring our ideas into social and political change and decision-making processes and, on the other hand, integrate social and political expectations into strategic and operational corporate decisions.

Political representation of interests means being in constant dialogue with decision-makers. These decision-makers include politicians, government officials, and representatives of political interest groups, trade organizations, business associations, and public officials. We conduct discussions with such individuals at various levels, listen to what they have to say, communicate our interests and concerns to them, and in this manner assume social responsibility. Our dialog with NGOs and various social movements is one of our core tasks and is becoming more and more important.

Our strategy for representing our political interests is systematically aligned with our corporate strategy. We focus here on issues such as climate protection and air quality, livable cities, vehicle safety, handling data responsibly, human rights, trade policy, location-specific matters, and labor legislation. In this context, we hold regular discussions and events in a variety of formats that allow us to systematically approach decision-makers and other societal protagonists and exchange ideas not only on core topics in the automotive industry but also on the issues that will shape its future. In the process we are open to constructive dialog with all relevant stakeholders, and we take other points of view into account in our activities. In addition, we contribute our knowledge and commitment to many discussions. For example, we participate in the strategic dialog for the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg, as well as in the German government’s National Platform Future of Mobility and many other forums. Here we work with government officials, politically and socially committed groups, opinion leaders, and experts in order to promote the transformation of the automotive industry.

Daimler has defined principles for political dialog and communicating our interests. In doing so, we maintain political restraint and balance and do not allow ourselves to be instrumentalised in party politics. With various instruments, we ensure that our political interests are in line with applicable regulations and ethical standards. In the association’s work and cooperation with other companies, special attention is paid to the antitrust requirements. Our internally binding requirements are, among other things, laid down in a worldwide policy and in the Group’s Integrity Code.

Our policy on “Lobbying and Political Donations” governs grants, donations to political parties, and the use of other instruments for representing our interests in the political realm. The Board of Management of Daimler AG decided not to make donations to political parties in 2019. This decision was not based on current political or economic developments.

As a company that does business worldwide, we encounter various political and societal changes and decisions that have a decisive impact on our own business operations. That is why it is important for Daimler to represent our company’s interests in an open and trust-based dialog and to cooperatively work out solutions.

We seek to ensure that our political lobbying is carried out in accordance with applicable regulations and ethical standards. For this reason, Daimler is listed in the transparency register of the European Union and also complies with the register’s Code of Conduct. The internal policies mentioned above describe how we address risks in connection with the political representation of our interests. These risks are also addressed through firmly established Group-wide compliance processes. Information about misconduct relating to our lobbying activities can be addressed to the BPO (Business Practices Office) whistleblower system. (See »Compliance«)

Our central coordinating body for political dialog at the national and international levels is the External Affairs and Public Policy unit, which is located in Stuttgart and falls under the responsibility of the Chairman of the Board of Management. This unit operates a global network with offices in Berlin, Brussels, Beijing, Singapore, Madrid, Stuttgart, and Washington and also has corporate representations in other key markets. Our objective is to ensure that our interests are represented by addressing political target groups in an organized manner using content which has been coordinated across the group.

The Head of External Affairs and Public Policy is also a permanent member of the Group Sustainability Board and as such is actively involved in many sustainability-related issues. (See »Sustainability at Daimler«). In addition, the External Affairs and Public Policy department works closely with the specialist units on questions relating to the representation of the Group’s interests. External Affairs also regularly holds Governmental Affairs Committees, at which the Head of External Affairs and other officials from the unit meet with Board of Management members and Level 1 managers to coordinate important upcoming lobbying decisions. In accordance with our policies, employees at Group companies of the Daimler Group and Daimler AG who represent our interests must register with External Affairs.

In addition to direct dialog with political decision-makers, we are represented via major industrial associations, such as the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). In these ways we participate in many political debates concerning air pollution control in German cities and the promotion of sustainable mobility, for example. We are actively participating in the development of solutions by means of our know-how and our technology. We also maintain contact with representatives from civic organizations and other companies, and we participate in further associations, committees, and sustainability initiatives.

Incorporation of Stakeholders