What does integrity mean? According to Wikipedia, integrity is an ethical orientation which ensures that an individual’s moral values and daily behavior go hand in hand. But what does integrity mean for a global automotive group with 290,000 employees?
“Integrity is one of Daimler’s key corporate values and a central element of our corporate culture,” explains Renata Jungo Brüngger, the member of the Board of Management who is responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs. “Integrity in action cannot be imposed from above. Instead, we have to work together to define a scale of values that provides orientation for us and our colleagues even in difficult situations.”
This scale of values has been laid down in the Group-wide Integrity Code. It is based on a shared understanding of values that was worked out together with our employees, and it defines the principles that must form the basis of our daily conduct. These principles include the observance of laws and rights, as well as fairness, responsibility, mutual respect, openness, and transparency. This guideline gives our employees orientation and helps them make the right ethical decisions even in difficult business situations. “For us, acting with integrity means that we always do what we say — that our deeds match our words. That’s the only way to generate the lasting trust that is the basis of every successful relationship — including business relationships,” says Pia Simon, the Head of Integrity Management.
A major prerequisite for responsible conduct is a culture of open discussion that enables people to address sensitive topics. Daimler is strengthening this culture by offering dialog events in a variety of areas and markets. In addition, the Integrity and Legal Affairs division has introduced a whole range of supportive measures that are available to help employees work together to shape a culture of integrity. These measures include customized training sessions that simulate daily business activities and the Infopoint Integrity as a central point of contact for all integrity-related topics. Daimler also has a special database where employees can find answers to frequently asked questions. “We communicate our scale of values to our employees through the various measures we offer. This is how we actively help to protect our brands and our reputation and thus promote Daimler’s longterm success,” says Pia Simon.
This is especially important in times of upheaval and transformation. The automobile industry is being radically changed by digitalization and the related areas of connectivity, driverless vehicles, sharing, and electric mobility. The new fields of business that are developing today require companies to reorient themselves. New technologies offer tremendous opportunities, but at the same time they pose challenges — for example, with regard to ethical and legal issues. In such times of change, our inner values and attitudes are put to the test. That’s why integrity issues will become even more important in the future.
A critical view from the outside
The Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility has been an important source of input for Daimler since 2012. It comprises independent experts from the fields of science, business, politics and non-governmental organizations, all of whom boast a wealth of experience with topics relating to ethical conduct. They provide critical and constructive support for the integrity process at Daimler from an external perspective.