2. Materiality

The company discloses the aspects of its business operations that have a significant impact on sustainability issues and what material impact sustainability issues have on its operations. It analyses the positive and negative effects and provides information as to how these insights are integrated into the company’s processes.

With its services and products, the Dussmann Group makes an impact on the lives and work of people in society and the economy. The business environment is notably characterized by the heterogeneity of the markets in which we operate, the infrastructures, customers and customer needs, as well as the respective market volumes. The ecological and social particularities may differ correspondingly significantly depending on the respective company division and international subsidiary.

Our stakeholders
Our most important stakeholders are employees, potential employees, owners/shareholders and applicants, as well as customers, suppliers, management, subcontractors, purchasers, end consumers, as well as employee representatives and associations. Add to that the representatives of cities and municipalities, supervisory authorities, scientific institutions, banks, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the media.

Material aspects of business operations
As part of a materiality analysis, sustainability aspects from both the company perspective and the perspective of the internal and external stakeholders were evaluated. The scope of the review covered operating activities, as well as goods and services. This evaluation forms the foundation of the Dussmann Group’s sustainability policy, the formulation of the objectives, and the derivation of measures. Through the integrated management system (IMS), we ensure an efficient implementation and promote continuous development.

The process
At the beginning of our materiality analysis was an internal inventory of the relevant aspects. These were examined within the scope of different workshops with regard to their social, environmental, and economic impacts on the business operations of the Dussmann Group and the individual international subsidiaries. In the process, the heads of the different company divisions were incorporated in order to reproduce the heterogeneous effects within the group.

Subsequently, the results were collated with the set areas of competitors and industry associations (among others, National Association of Contract Cleaners (BIV), National Association of the Security Industry (BDSW), German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA), German Association for Care Professions (DBfK), and Deutscher Verband für Facility Management e.V. (GEFMA) (German Facility Management Association)). The company’s publicly available sustainability and responsibility reports and materiality analyses served as the reference base.

In a third step, the determined aspects were then reflected, calibrated, and supplemented in qualitative interviews with select key stakeholders.

Material aspects
The market research and analysis of our business operations resulted in a list of different topics that were evaluated with regard to the impacts of business operations on sustainability aspects:

  • Service and product quality (integrity, value maintenance)
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Service and product innovation
  • Fair competition
  • Anti-corruption and compliance
  • Extent of self-delivery
To us, the quality of our products and services as well as innovative strength are the primary economic sustainability aspects. These create added value for our customers and generate a high degree of customer satisfaction. In addition, compliance and the prevention of corruption are important to both internal and external stakeholders.

In the materiality analysis, the quality of our services is broken down into value maintenance and integrity. For example, we pay attention to environmentally friendly and material-conserving products when cleaning buildings. In doing so, we contribute towards the value preservation of the building. In caring for the elderly and childcare, human integrity plays an essential role. In all areas, we strive for reliably high quality, as well as continuous development to provide a greater benefit to customers. By continuing to take on even more of our customers’ secondary work, which is beyond their core processes, we tap into additional growth and employment potential and enable our customers to increase their value contribution by concentrating on their core business.

We ensure strict adherence to all the relevant laws, guidelines, norms, and requirements of our internal and external stakeholders. Every employee is responsible for ensuring his or her actions are always consistent with these binding obligations. For this purpose, we regularly offer mandatory training courses and set up a trust center for whistleblowers. We formulated the Dussmann Group’s ethical values in the Code of Conduct. These include fair competition, as well as respect and confidentiality in dealing with our business partners. We support our employees in the handling of ethical questions and also lead an open dialog with regard to penalties in the event of violations against ethical principles. We also make adherence to the guidelines mandatory for subcontractors and suppliers.

  • Employee satisfaction (employee loyalty and recruitment, job security, fair pay, working conditions)
  • Education and training
  • Occupational health and safety 
  • Human rights
  • Diversity and anti-discrimination
  • Social engagement
  • Data protection
Employee concerns and employee satisfaction are of high priority for the Dussmann Group companies and their stakeholders, especially the sustainability aspects fair compensation, good working conditions, occupational health and safety, education and training as well as employee loyalty and recruitment. We are convinced that employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and a high degree of product and service quality are only possible in mutual cooperation. Laying the foundation so that our employees can utilize and develop their potential in the best possible way is therefore a significant responsibility of our company's business activities.

In addition, data protection is essential to us and our stakeholders. We place great value on the protection and security of our customers’ and employees’ personal data. The same applies to dealing with business data from customers or third parties, for example, in the course of the rendering of services.

  • CO2 emissions
  • Use of materials
  • Resource consumption (plastics, chemicals, water)
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Energy consumption
  • Supply chain management
  • Climate change adaptation
In environmental terms, we focus our operational activities on minimizing the consumption of resources and using environmentally friendly products and work equipment. This applies both to our own equipment as well as to the resources of our customers. Our consumption primarily includes plastics, chemicals, water, energy and food. We strive to continuously reduce our material and resource consumption. For this reason, we pay special attention to the sensitive handling of raw materials and actively press ahead with environmentally friendly as well as resource and energy-efficient innovations. In this way, we support our objective of reducing the amount of waste. This primarily consists of packaging material and consumables.

Environmental aspects are assessed from the customer's perspective as less significant with a view to the impacts of business activities compared to economic and social aspects (see Criteria 9 for a detailed review of the stakeholders). In the view of the Dussmann Group, the sustainability aspects of the three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – are on an equal footing and not in competition with one another. Within the context of this declaration, the specified sustainability aspects are allocated to one of the categories in their strongest form but have impacts on several dimensions in a reciprocal interplay.

The impacts of business operations – opportunities and risks
The Dussmann Group’s business operations are associated with economic, social, and environmental opportunities and risks.

An economic opportunity can be found in our portfolio diversity (that is independent of economic conditions) and in our stable and independent financial structure, as it enables us to strengthen our portfolio with investments and targeted strategic acquisitions without undertaking any financial risks that could have adverse effects on the company. An economic risk is the acquisition of sufficiently qualified workers and specialists who we need to fulfill our value proposition to our customers.

With over 64,450 employees, in many of the regions in which we operate, we are one of the largest employers. This results in our societal influence and special responsibility to create stable and quality employment relationships in developing markets. We are always aware of this responsibility. Enabling people, even those with relatively few qualifications, to begin or continue their professional lives and to provide them with long-term and fairly compensated employment relationships consequently represents a significant opportunity with which we promote a cohesive society.

With the expansion of the extent of self-delivery, we create new jobs and secure existing ones. The key element here is the qualification of employees.

The automation of process steps offers the companies of the Dussmann Group the opportunity to open up new markets. This prevents the potential risk of jobs being relocated. In times of a worsening shortage of labor and skilled workers, the use of new technologies helps to ensure the provision of services in principle. In addition, new job profiles are developing. The new technology must be monitored and tended to, and education and training continue to grow in importance. We can lighten the load on our employees through the use of robotics during individual work steps of heavy or monotonous work, which in turn ensures better job security and efficiency (e.g. through autonomously run cleaning machines).

Environmentally speaking, burdens arise, especially in resource consumption, the application of the products used (use of chemicals, plastic consumption, water consumption), as well as energy management. Risks arise from the fact that certain services in the supply chain are rendered by third parties, especially by subcontractors. The review of quality standards throughout the entire supply chain is of special importance, as well as a great challenge. At the same time, there is great potential to reduce environmental impacts through the application of environmentally friendly products (e.g. through DS internal products) and work equipment (e.g. precise dosing systems), as well as efficiency in the use of energy and materials – with regard to our own equipment and especially with a view to the resources of our customers.

Climate change calls for adaptation, both on the part of companies and individual people. First and foremost, the impact of businesses’ and private parties’ activities on the environment must be minimized.
Our aspiration is to minimize negative environmental impacts along our supply chain: In the rendering of our cleaning services for instance, we pay special attention to biodegradable and highly concentrated products, as well as to the regional proximity to our wholesale partners.

Second, climate change influences our everyday lives. The Dussmann Group aims to provide efficient support to people and companies. In addition to strategic relevance, this also provides the company with opportunities for business development. We see potential in supporting and continuously optimizing the entire life cycle of a building and its technology with innovative, technical solutions.

In all of its business activities, the Dussmann Group works on resource efficient services and product innovations that improve living and working conditions for customers and employees in all company divisions.