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Taking responsibility for the supply chain

Taking responsibility for the supply chain

From a special interest subject to the centre of attention

March 09, 2023

Efforts to introduce corporate due diligence have been taking place since the 1990s, but often they only received little attention. Germany’s Supply Chain Act, which came into force in 2023, has changed all that. Due diligence has become a key topic of corporate management. That was the summary given by Dirk Meyer of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, speaking on Thursday at the ITB Berlin Convention. It was an assessment shared and welcomed by industry representatives including Laura Steden of DER Touristik and Manfred Häupl of Hauser Exkursionen.

Since January 2023 companies with more than 3,000 employees are legally obliged to exercise due diligence in their supply chain. That includes prohibiting child labour and ensuring fair wages. Currently, the law only affects a few industry giants such as DER Touristik and TUI – but next year already these obligations will be expanded to cover companies with 1,000 employees or more. As efforts are also under way at European and global level to legally define the responsibilities of companies in the supply chain, enterprises from Germany that address this issue now will clearly be at an advantage, Dirk Meyer said.

Laura Steden of DER Touristik talked about how sub-contracted tourism companies specifically implemented the Supply Chain Act’s provisions. Thus her company, which had long been engaged in the Round Table on Human Rights in Tourism, had passed an elaborate policy statement on human rights and carried out a first risk analysis. In that context, the round table’s risk map had been of great assistance. Another measure was the establishment of a complaints management system ensuring any notifications of irregularities and weak points would be specifically followed up.

Manfred Häupl, managing director of Hauser Exkursionen, said that although his company was not directly affected by the Supply Chain Act it had long exercised social responsibility and, based on the criteria of the organisation Anders reisen, had regularly obtained certification, something he sincerely advised other tour operators to do. Taking 140 indicators into account, or a summary of nine key indicators, companies could determine where they stood.

According to Häupl, this was ultimately not a technical issue but had to do with a moral reset, where fairness came before profit and the focus was on stakeholder rather than shareholder values. He now takes the view that it is wrong to pass responsibility for a sustainable trip on to the customer and that organisers should ensure that instead. “Maybe three to four per cent of customers choose to offset their trip, when asked. That is why we have included carbon offsetting in our prices and automatically make that choice for every customer", Häupl said.

The participants agreed that taking responsibility for the supply chain demanded a transformation no company could achieve on its own. Cooperation, dialogue and working together was required – the fact that the various tour operators in the supply chain often encountered the same partners was reason enough to heed that.