Audi Suppliers Delivering Sustainability
Sustainable Down to the Last Detail
The 40-member team at Holfelder GmbH is living proof that sustainability is a matter not just for huge corporations but for small and medium-sized enterprises as well. The long-standing company based in Unterföhring in Bavaria develops and manufactures clothing for the VW Group and also offers logistical services and online shops for customers. The company’s work for Audi includes embroidering jackets for employees and producing items from the Audi collection. The fabric specialists have now also secured the services of an external sustainability consultant.
In addition to Audi, increasing numbers of companies are now requiring their suppliers to prove that they are operating sustainably. That is why Audi introduced its sustainability rating in 2017. This sustainability rating, also known as the S-Rating, has been mandatory throughout the Volkswagen Group since July 1, 2019. It has considerable influence on procurement and applies even to smaller partner companies such as Holfelder GmbH.
The Sustainability Rating and Its Effects
A self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) standardized for the automotive industry gives Audi information about sustainable operations with regard to social and environmental aspects at the supplier in question. In 2019 a total of 12,646 suppliers have already provided the Volkswagen Group with information in this way. If necessary, Audi will also conduct an additional compliance check. If the SAQ is not satisfactory, an independent sustainability assessor visits the company to carry out an inspection relating to areas such as industrial safety and the economical use of resources in production. Such an assessor has already been deployed on behalf of the VW Group 1,331 times in 2019. Follow-up checks are subsequently performed to ascertain whether the deficiencies identified by the sustainability assessor are actually being rectified. At the end of an S-Rating process, a supplier is assigned a status of either “can be awarded a contract” or “cannot be awarded a contract.” There are no gray areas. In other words, price is not the only decisive factor in awarding contracts.
What Suppliers Have to Ensure
Audi sets high standards as a company for issues such as corporate ethics, sustainability, and environmental protection. Audi expects the same of its suppliers. If they are to work together as partners, the two sides need to share the same values and ambitions. Social aspects such as corruption prevention and a safe and healthy working environment are just a couple of examples. Making responsible use of natural resources such as water and preventing waste are also involved. Companies need to draw up official guidelines on these subjects, make them integral parts of their corporate conduct and communicate them to their employees so that they are put into practice every day.
Support for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
A sustainability self-declaration calls for guidelines and management systems that govern the corporate practices of our business partners. As a means of ensuring that this does not end up smothering processes with red tape, Audi has now started to offer “Sustainability Talks” for companies employing between 50 and 500 people. These involve workshops in which external specialists demonstrate best practices that will help participants to draw up neat and effective sustainability guidelines.
Small Actions Can Make a Big Difference
Holfelder GmbH shows that even small firms can achieve big things when it comes to sustainability. The company is currently working on a sustainability strategy of its own, as well as ethics and environmental guidelines. As of August 1, 2019, Holfelder is a member of the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative). This initiative seeks to achieve better working conditions primarily in textile factories in Asia, as well as in Europe. The SME is also thinking about its use of chemicals, and it has made obtaining
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification its next objective.
This will help Holfelder to continue to improve its S-Rating results for the VW Group and become ever more sustainable. For companies like Audi, it is important that everyone pulls together to help make the supply chain consistently sustainable. That applies to all types of business, no matter how big or small. After all, sustainability is something that affects everyone.