Deutsche Post DHL is a co-sponsor of this year's Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. Under the motto "Living Responsibility" it focuses on three key areas: "GoGreen”, "GoHelp” and "GoTeach”: DW talked with CEO Frank Appel
DW: Does DHL look for social competence in the people it recruits to fit in with its corporate social responsibility programs?
FA: More than ever before people now assess potential employers according to their contribution to society. As the world's leading provider of mail and logistics services, we play a major role not only for the economy as a whole, but also for every individual. Moreover, we bear responsibility for society and for our planet. Through GoGreen, GoHelp and GoTeach we want to do our part, for example by working hand-in-hand with partners like the United Nations and SOS Children's Villages. And in those partnerships our employees bring their social and professional skills to the table, for instance by mentoring school kids from SOS Children's Villages and giving them access to a life of work that would otherwise remain out of reach. Personal and social skills are hugely important for that.
DW:Globalization critics complain that corporations don't always meet their local responsibilities. What's your code in that context?
FA: With around 470,000 employees practically everywhere, we have direct insight into a variety of people's living conditions. That makes us want to assume responsibility. It's reflected in our guiding principle of "respect and results", which applies equally to how we treat one another and our environment. Since 2006 we have been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, which serves as the basis for the responsible and ethical behavior of all our employees. We also have a code of conduct that applies throughout our business regions and segments. It defines the goals and rules of responsible, ethical and legally compliant behavior. Responsibility in that sense has several dimensions. We aim to improve access to and the quality of education in different countries. So far we are active in 11 countries with our Teach For All and SOS Children's Villages partnerships. The focus in Brazil, for example, may be on mentoring programs while in South Africa there is a great need for practical training. We think it's important to put our expertise to use sustainably. The best way to do that is by working on the ground locally.
DW: What can a company like DHL do to promote future viability, for example in Africa?
FA: With its immense diversity, its resources and especially its people, Africa has huge development potential. The continent has great reserves of raw materials and the demand for trade grows along with its continual progress. An efficient, well-functioning transport sector is integral to a country's economic development. So the services we provide in African countries can be seen as an important support for Africa's development. But of course our commitment doesn't end there. We work closely with SOS Children's Villages there as well, enabling children and adolescents to get vocational training. Right now we're doing that in Madagascar and South Africa, and this year partnerships will start in Ghana and Kenya. Our social commitment in this area isn't purely altruistic - we need to rely on well-trained staff with local expertise.
DW: As a company steeped in globalization, do you occasionally feel unjustly attacked by the media, especially by social media?
FA: We know that our processes don't always work a hundred percent, even if that’s what we have to aim for. So if criticism arises now and then, we have to accept that and deal with it. That, too, is part of our business.