Whether as a responsible employer or a reliable partner for society, the actions of the Schwarz Group affect the lives of numerous people in a wide variety of ways. We provide our roughly 500,000 employees with a safe working environment marked by equal opportunity. For us, appreciation also means: We support not only the health and well-being of our employees, but also their development. In addition, we have committed ourselves to social and ecological concerns by initiating and supporting charitable projects worldwide.
The current labor market is characterized by constant change – new requirements, new qualifications and new forms of employment. We are used to these constantly changing conditions and have the means to adapt to them. We invest in lifelong learning and thus in the development of our employees as well as in a dynamic future for the Schwarz Group. By opening up prospects of training and continued education, we seek to motivate our employees and develop their potential – and with our more than 500,000 employees, we have got plenty of that.
Implementation and Measures
Of the approximately 2.7 million tons of waste that the Schwarz Group accumulates each year, three-quarters can be reused or converted into other products. Apart from an appropriate infrastructure, exploiting the ecological and economic potential of this recyclable material requires the comprehensive sensitization of our employees. In addition to providing standard collection points for Schwarz Group stores, warehouses, and administrative buildings, the PreZero environmental division has also developed a training program on this topic.
Through the training, brochures, and explanatory videos provided as part of its “Appreciation of Recyclable Materials” concept, PreZero makes Kaufland and Lidl employees worldwide aware of the proper separation of waste and its potential for reuse. This program has made it possible for retail division stores and logistics centers to significantly increase their rate of recycling over the past few years.
Sensitization to sustainable behavior is also an integral component in the orientation training of all new employees at Kaufland stores worldwide. This type of training focuses on themes such as the conscientious use of energy at the workplace and the proper disposal of waste. The specific content required by each employee is conveyed during tours of the store, in online training and explanatory videos.
Some national companies also carry out indepen-dent campaigns for sensitizing employees and customers to the responsible use of resources. In 2019, for example, Lidl Italy focused on the topic of reducing food waste and organized a competition for employees, who were given an opportunity to present their favorite recipes for using leftover food at home. The best video recipes for dealing with food waste were then published on social media.
With the packaging label “Bewusster verpackt” (consciously packed), Kaufland makes it easier for its customers to understand the extent to which new product packaging has been optimized in comparison to the previous one. The logo is applied to the front or back of the optimized packaging of private labels – for example on the sunflower oil as well as toothbrushes, herbal baths and foot care products.
Lidl’s logo “verantwortlicher verpackt” (packaging responsibly) also creates greater transparency for customers. Labelling with the logo “verantwortlicher verpackt” is currently planned or has already been carried out for 170 of over 320 private label packagings, including yoghurt, juice, smoothies, sausage cold cuts and various other sausage and meat products.
For “verantwortlicher verpackt” at Lidl and “Bewusster verpackt” at Kaufland, at least one of the following criteria must be met:
- Recyclability of at least 80 percent
- Recycled materials account for at least 30 percent
- Material savings of at least 10 percent
Since early 2020, Schwarz IT has been holding an unusual idea competition for its employees and trainees: Employees at its Weinsberg site in the district of Heilbronn have the opportunity to actively participate in the weekly care of beehives that were set up there in early 2019. The competition gives students and trainees the opportunity to test various IT technologies on beehives, such as GPS trackers and camera technology.
Junior employees taking part in the “Be(e) IT” project can submit their ideas, the best of which will be presented to Schwarz IT management and implemented. In this way, the project promotes exchanging ideas between trainees and associates at the executive board level. In addition, the employees taking part in the project will learn how to work with nature in a positive way.
Increasing the number of women in management – this was the goal Lidl had in mind in 2020 when it became a partner of the international LEAD network (Leading Executives Advance Diversity), which is committed to diversity and to increasing the percentage of women in management positions in retail and in the consumer goods industry. Lidl also proved its commitment in this area by signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) of the United Nations. WEP was the first global initiative to systematically promote and increase the proportion of women in business – on the basis of a management culture which promotes gender equality.
In addition, Lidl Stiftung implemented a mentoring program available to both genders which is intended to promote gender equality. The national companies are also committed to more diversity in management positions. For example, Lidl Netherlands was the first discounter to sign the Talent to the Top Charter in 2017. With this step, Lidl Netherlands is underlining its ambition to increase the proportion of women in management positions to at least 30 percent in three years.
Kaufland is also currently experiencing a balanced ratio in its management structure – as a result, half of its management positions across all countries are held by women. Kaufland also started a mentoring program in 2019 to support women.
Schwarz Produktion is likewise actively committed to equal rights for all employees. In order to exclude discrimination, in 2019 the division went through the gender equality check established by the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and was awarded a certificate in early 2020. These analyses confirm that Schwarz Produktion maintains a high level of gender equality, and they provide an excellent basis for further commitments by the division in this area. On the basis of the analysis results of the gender equality check, Schwarz Produktion established an extensive program with additional measures which have already begun to be implemented. Lidl had already taken part in the pilot of the gender equality check in 2016/2017.
Since 2019 Kaufland in Romania has been running a program to facilitate the hiring of persons with disabilities. Taking into consideration its different employment needs, Kaufland has developed a number of job positions at each of its locations that are also available to persons with disabilities. Following the pilot program in 2019, efforts were then extended to all Kaufland stores and facilities in Romania – the program has made more than 500 such jobs available throughout the country. Through this program, Kaufland Romania is pursuing its objective of an employment rate of 4 percent for people with disabilities.
In addition, Kaufland Croatia has been working since June 2019 with Ozalj, an association for people with intellectual disabilities. Kaufland Croatia employs members of the association in its Logistics department. Kaufland Czech Republic also supports a number of charitable organizations, including Centrum Paraple, which cares for people who have suffered severe spinal injuries, the Světluška relief organization for the blind, and Helppes, which is a non-profit organization that provides training for assistance dogs.
Lidl France has also committed itself to a variety of causes: In addition to sensitization campaigns for its own employees and holding events for the occasion of the European Week of Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace (2018 and 2019) and the International Day of Disabled Persons 2019, Lidl France also carries out initiatives in its own business operations. This national company works consciously with organizations and businesses that employ people with disabilities and also targets such candidates when hiring.
A central precondition for equal opportunities is the compatibility of work and family. To promote this, the divisions and countries of the Schwarz Group take the initiative. Since 2014 and 2016, respectively, Lidl Slovenia and Lidl Austria have been certified as family-friendly companies according to the “audit berufundfamilie” (“work and family audit”). In 2019, the two national companies were re-audited for their family-friendly corporate culture. To this end, Lidl Austria conducted several workshops with management and employees in 2019 and defined around 45 measures to be implemented by 2022. Lidl Slovenia has also defined new measures for a period of three years to further promote the company’s family-friendly culture.
At Kaufland, offers for the compatibility of family and career are also of great importance. Kaufland also supports its own employees in special phases of life, such as the birth of a child. At all national companies, the new generation is welcomed with a congratulations package, for example. In addition, Kaufland offers modern parent-child offices in Germany, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and since 2020 also in the Czech Republic to deal with short-term care shortages. Here, employees can look after their child on their own responsibility and at the same time carry out their professional duties. In addition, all divisions support their employees with flexible working time models and sabbatical arrangements to help them combine their professional and private lives.
The health of our employees is our first priority. A modern health management system not only intervenes reactively, it also promotes health proactively. As a result, both our employees and the corporation benefit over the long term – and our employees appreciate the concern for their well-being, even ensuring that they maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Implementation and Measures
For the Schwarz Group, a health-promoting working environment is a central prerequisite for satisfied employees who are motivated and contribute to the success of the company. The divisions focus primarily on preventive measures to maintain and promote the health of their employees.
Depending on their location, Schwarz Group divisions offer their employees activities which promote health, such as sports classes and preventive medical checkups. In addition to physical health, these activities also focus on mental health.
Depending on the division and location, these types of activities can include legally required preventive checkups, such as skin and breast cancer screenings, eye examinations, back training sessions, and flu shots in addition to training and advice on adjusting office chairs or proper lifting and carrying.
Activities like corporate runs, sporting events, and health days round off the assortment of preventive services being offered, and they also heighten employees’ awareness for healthy day-to-day living in addition to providing them with athletic activity. For example, Schwarz Produktion’s annual Health Day 2019 revolved around the theme of stress prevention. Employees at the event could receive a physical examination from a “stress pilot”.
New Kaufland and Lidl stores are being equipped as standard with ergonomic cashier chairs, and the chairs in some existing stores are being appropriately retrofitted. Moreover, stock replenishment at Kaufland locations is being made easier through the use of ergonomic industrial trucks, and physical strain is also being reduced in sales and logistics distribution centers through optimized shelf heights and adjustable conveyor belts.
All new office facilities at the retail divisions and Schwarz Dienstleistungen are being equipped as standard (but gradually) with ergonomic desk chairs and height-adjustable tables, thus providing for an office environment that promotes health. The topic of ergonomics is very important in meat processing plants as well. In 2018, the Heilbad Heiligenstadt meat processing plant won the prevention prize from the German professional association for foodstuffs and catering (BGN) for the safe, ergonomic tipping device it developed for the disposal of sacks. This technology has since been implemented in a number of other meat processing plants.
A holistic prevention approach also includes providing employees with healthy food and sports activities. A number of countries have established programs and services in this area. Employees get fruit for free at the central administrative facilities in Neckarsulm and in other locations, including Lidl in Austria, Great Britain, and Finland as well as Kaufland Slovakia. In addition, employees in the central German facilities and other locations, such as Kaufland in Poland and Lidl in Italy, Spain, France, and Switzerland, have access to fitness rooms at these sites.
A number of Kaufland and Lidl national entities – including the Czech Republic and Slovakia – provide employees with a multi-sports card, which makes it possible for them to visit selected sports and leisure facilities, fitness studios, tennis courts, and swimming pools. In addition, Schwarz Dienstleistungen, Kaufland and Lidl in Germany as well as some national companies partner with various providers and sports centers. Numerous sports classes, lectures on nutrition and consultation services round off the programs being offered by the Schwarz Group in the area of health promotion.
Because of its variety of employee health programs, Kaufland in the Czech Republic received a health award in 2018 and 2019, while Kaufland Croatia was the first retail company in that country to receive the “health-friendly company” certificate in 2019.
The Schwarz Group considers fair wages to be another expression of human worth. This applies not only to the compensation of its own employees but also to its partners which take part in its global value chain, particularly local suppliers in international procurement markets.
As the Schwarz Group, we consider it our duty, together with our business partners in the countries concerned, to make decent employment possible through good working conditions and fair wages. As a result, the business activities of the Schwarz Group will positively impact the people who work in its supply chain as well as their families and local communities.
Food banks combine social and ecological commitment. Every minute we save 500 kilograms of edible food from being destroyed and thus regularly support over 1.6 million people. To be able to do this, we need strong partners at our side. Kaufland and Lidl have been supporting us for many years. This is just one way they look after their social responsibility as a successful corporation.
Implementation and Measures
The retail divisions of the Schwarz Group are actively committed to avoiding food waste and give food away as a measure for reaching its reduction target in this area. Our stores and logistics centers around the world regularly give charitable organizations food which can no longer be sold but is still suitable for consumption.
In Germany, for example, local food banks regularly receive food and other items from Kaufland and Lidl stores, then pass it on to people affected by poverty in return for a token payment. Lidl Sweden donates its surplus food to charitable organizations such as Allwin as well as city missions. Lidl Italy partners with an Italian food bank “Banco Alimentare”, which picks up food in stores about four times a week and distributes it to the needy through a network of local charities.
Lidl’s national entities in France, Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands have also established similar concepts for distributing food as well as other initiatives. Lidl Romania not only donates food but also invests in starting up food banks and setting up a corresponding network. Three new food banks were established in the 2019 reporting year alone and three more are in planning, with Lidl Romania bearing all costs involved.
Numerous national entities of Kaufland likewise donate food to charitable organizations and even have a legal requirement to do so in several countries. In Croatia, for example, Caritas visits 18 stores twice a week to collect unsold baked goods, fruit, and vegetables. The organization also picks up food from the central warehouse on a weekly basis, such as food which is about to expire or which has damaged packaging. In addition to working with food banks, 80 Kaufland Germany locations partner with the “foodsharing” initiative to prepare leftover food for collection. Similar initiatives and concepts for food donation also exist at Kaufland in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and other countries.
In order to save even more food from garbage in the future, Kaufland and Lidl are participating in the project “Tafel macht Zukunft – gemeinsam digital” (Tafel creates the future – digital together). Tafel Deutschland and its project partners are developing an online platform, the so-called “eco-platform”. This is intended to improve the networking of Tafel, retailers and manufacturers and make the information available to people in need more tailored to their needs. By optimizing route planning, for example, time and costs for the Tafel are saved. In 2018 and 2019, Lidl supported the Tafel “Future-fonds” with a total of 1.5 million euros.
Apart from food donations, Lidl has also been working together with its own customers since 2008 to support food banks across Germany through deposit donations. Roughly 6,100 bottle/can return machines in 3,200 stores have a button which lets customers donate all or part of their deposit return to food banks.
By the end of fiscal year 2019, over 18 million euros had been collected in this way, allowing food banks to finance not only items like refrigerated vehicles, hygiene products, and new furnishings but also cooking classes for their clients. A total of about 2,500 such projects had been implemented by the end of 2019.
Other countries also make use of the concept of deposit donations – for example, since 2017 Lidl Lithuania has been using this concept to support a national donation project which supports daycare centers, and it even goes a step further by doubling customer donations. Kaufland likewise organizes deposit donation campaigns at the local level, which support not only food banks but other charitable organizations. In addition, all German stores are working on setting up deposit donation boxes to support charitable organizations in their regions during fiscal year 2020.
Since 2004, Kaufland has been committed to environmental education and to bringing children closer to nature and the environment in playful ways. Its “Learning by Doing” (“Machen macht Schule”) program organizes environmental action days as well as action days focusing on nature and nutrition. Kaufland puts on roughly 200 action days each year, which reach almost 30,000 children and adolescents.
In 2020 the focus of the environmental action days will be on water. Schoolchildren attending the kick-off event in February 2020 had the opportunity to meet with environmental experts to analyze how every individual can make contributions to conserve the valuable resource of water. Kaufland’s nature action days, which involve one-day excursions to nearby natural parks, were even named as an official project of the UN Decade of Biodiversity in the fall of 2019.
Kaufland’s nutrition action days bring in nutrition experts to teach children and adolescents about healthy eating. Kaufland has also shown its commitment in this area through a number of international projects such as “Akademia Kinderland”. The project in Romania has been teaching children about healthy eating through games held right in front of its stores since 2018.
The employees of the Schwarz Group are likewise committed to the environment and to society. At Kaufland Croatia, for example, roughly 150 employees from all stores, headquarters and logistics centers took part in Green Week 2019 by helping to collect waste and garbage in eleven national parks and natural parks. Moreover, Kaufland Bulgaria employees also showed their commitment to a cleaner environment by taking part in World Clean Up Day in September 2018.
Through its PreZero sales brand, GreenCycle provides major support in the area of sustainable waste management to the national German TSG Hoffenheim soccer club. As a widely visible sign of this support, TSG renamed its soccer stadium PreZero Arena. However, the sustainability cooperation between the two partners goes far beyond stadium sponsorship.
Together, they have set themselves the goal of turning the PreZero Arena into a symbol of sustainability and of raising public awareness about stadium operations and games which are resource-efficient and promote a sustainable fan culture.
To this end, PreZero supports and advises the club on all environment-related topics – for example, through analyzing and optimizing material flows, through waste separation and waste avoidance concepts and through the development and implementation of a reusable cup system.
One of the most important elements of this cooperation is actually the stadium’s turf. Because while other people are watching the ball, we are interested instead in the grass underneath. Optimal stadium turf must be maintained regularly and most importantly, it has to be mowed. PreZero reuses the generated green waste for its own grass paper, thus making a contribution to environmental protection. Because in contrast to conventional paper, whose production takes up a lot of energy, water and chemicals, grass paper is more ecological – the energy-saving production process saves up to 75 percent of CO2. The materials in this process are not chemically treated, and producing a ton of paper requires around just two liters of water instead of 6,000 liters. Our grass paper containing original stadium turf has since been used successfully as a popular autograph card. Around 200,000 of these are handed out to TSG fans each season. A pilot project with a major signal effect – in the meantime, other PreZero promotional items are produced in addition to grass paper using the grass clippings as a recyclable material, such as cell phone cases.