Various Federal Government Ministries and inter-agency bodies are working on CSR. Although the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is at the helm of federal CSR activities, the CSR activities of the Federal Government are not an isolated political project, but rather closely connected to the efforts of the private sector and civil society.
Because of this constellation, the National CSR Forum, which the Labour Ministry launched in 2009, is of crucial importance. It is composed of 41 high-ranking experts from the private sector, trade unions, NGOs, academia and representatives of the competent Federal Ministries. The members are first and foremost institutions and groups and not individuals.
The National CSR Forum's main jobs include advising the Federal Government on further developing the national CSR strategy and drawing up recommendations on individual topics. The starting point was the 2010 recommendations report on the basis of which the Federal Cabinet adopted the National CSR Action Plan in the same year. The Forum usually meets twice a year. The "executive organ" of the Forum, its nine-person steering committee, prepares the meetings. The steering committee also brings together all stakeholders.
Ideas for the CSR strategy
In her speech to open the meeting of the National CSR Forum in January 2015, then Federal Labour Minister Andrea Nahles praised the importance of the forum for the further development of the CSR strategy. She pointed to the changes in the international understanding of CSR that have come about as a result of the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011 and their impact on the OECD Guidelines and the EU's strategy. She emphasised that the concept of due diligence along supply chains had become the focus of the international debate and was also reflected in the national CSR strategy. She said that in light of such grave catastrophes as the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh we had to ask how the enforcement of labour and social standards can be improved worldwide.
Nahles (Minister from 2013-2017) also spoke about the Federal Government's most important CSR activities:
- the joint initiative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, to put promoting decent work worldwide through sustainable supply chains on the agenda of Germany's G7 Presidency,
- the development of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights in an effort to implement the UN Guiding Principles, and
- the transposition of the EU Non-Financial Information Reporting Directive into national law.
Three priorities for the further work on the CSR strategy were identified in the meeting attended by Reiner Hoffmann, President of the German Trade Union Confederation, and Reinhard Göhner, CEO of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations:
- Support for small and medium-sized enterprises is to remain a key concern of the CSR strategy. This includes holding regional workshops in which the CSR topics are presented in a practical, easy-to-understand manner. The Federal Government's CSR Prize programme is to be continued.
- The strategy is to have a more international orientation and the German position is to be introduced at the international level (EU, G7, G20, ILO).
- The National CSR Forum adopted the "Berlin CSR Consensus on corporate responsibility in supply and value chains" on 25 June 2018. The aim is to give companies more guidance and a more reliable basis for the management of their production and supply chains.
At the meeting of the National CSR Forum on 25 June 2018, the " Berlin CSR Consensus [PDF, 468KB]" was adopted. This describes in particular the principles for management and leadership that are necessary for responsible supply chain management.