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Acting for all People

Sustainability@ZF

We stand up for equality, inclusion and diversity and reject any form of discrimination.

Respect for human rights is indispensable for ZF, both at ZF and among our business partners. We put people at the center of our actions and feel responsible as a company for our own employees, as well as for the people who work with us along the value chain. The highest standards apply at ZF for the protection of health and safety in the workplace. We make the best possible use of the individual strengths and diversity of our employees worldwide. In addition, we take our social responsibility very seriously and are involved in various social projects around the world.

Human Resource Development and Diversity

As a global player, ZF believes in its responsibility to promote diversity and tolerance in its own business and in the value chain. Where national legislation deviates from our fundamental principles, we set a good example and take responsibility.

ZF does not tolerate any form of discrimination. In our ZF Code of Conduct, which is available in 27 languages, we oppose exclusion or unequal treatment, based on gender, skin color, religion, age, nationality, social and ethnic origin, pregnancy, disability, ideology, sexual orientation, and political and trade union activity.

ZF offers Group-wide training courses within the scope of human resources development. Thus, ZF ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes learning opportunities for all. Our goal is to allow employees to participate in the process of ZF sustainability development and to actively shape the ZF Way.

Keeping People Safe

The safety, health and well-being of all employees are core values and top priorities of ZF's corporate culture. 

Health Protection and Accident Prevention

As a company that is particularly committed to road safety with a vision of zero accidents, safety in our own company is also a top priority for us. That's why our standard for occupational safety is: zero accidents.

Effective health protection and accident prevention can protect employees from a wide range of hazards and damage to health in the workplace. At ZF, the safety, health, and well-being of all employees are integral values of the corporate culture. This applies regardless of whether they are directly employed or work for the company as temporary workers.

Continuous Improvement Through Standardized Programs

Numerous programs and centers of excellence have been implemented to further improve occupational health and safety. For example, the EHS management system includes mandatory requirements as well as guidelines that address environmental, occupational health and safety management issues for all ZF locations worldwide. Progress is evaluated through self-assessments and as part of the EHS Corporate Audit Program.

Safety Excellence covers three key areas: Leadership in Occupational Safety (Safety Leadership), Employee Involvement (Behavior Based Safety), and Continuous Improvement of the EHS Management System, which also encompasses other programs, such as Ergonomics and Machine Safety.

The Safety Leadership Program is a global program aimed at improving managers' awareness of occupational safety. In this way, we promote a sustainable safety culture by identifying opportunities in the program for managers to influence improvements in occupational safety and teaching them how to fulfill their role model function.

Behavior Based Safety (BBS) aims to get employees more involved in safety by coaching each other and making them aware that everyone's behavior at work plays a big role in overall safety.

The software-based ergonomics program includes e-learning, ergonomic risk assessment and best practice solutions, and a video analysis tool. The aim is for the Group to have no more workplaces with a high ergonomic risk by 2025 and to reduce medium-risk workplaces to a proportion of less than 10 percent.

Our safety standards on machines are high, and accidents mostly occur due to incorrect operation. A global team of experts not only checks compliance with safety standards, but also works to improve the operation of machines beyond legal requirements.

Preventing Accidents

As a Group, we have defined specific targets to further maintain, protect and promote the health, well-being and satisfaction of our employees. In terms of accident rates, we aim to be among the companies with the best accident figures in our industry.

Work-related accidents are recorded and thoroughly investigated for their causes. To prevent future accidents throughout the Group, safety alerts are shared via the EHS intranet with a summary of the event, its causes, and the preventive measures taken.

For ZF, occupational safety does not stop with our own workforce. We also want to maintain our EHS performance at a very good level along the supply chain. This applies above all to suppliers who provide services at the ZF locations. Contractors are selected based on their proven ability to perform safety-critical activities.

Involvement of Employees

The EHS management system provides for employees and their representatives to be actively involved in EHS initiatives and decision-making processes and to be involved in the continuous improvement of occupational health and safety. Employees are encouraged to report near misses and unsafe situations and to participate in activities such as risk assessments, kaizen workshops and suggestion schemes. They also have access to the general ZF Trustline to report health and safety complaints. These reports are treated in strict confidence.

Human Rights and Working Conditions

Fairness and transparency have long been important principles for ZF. This also includes a clear commitment to internationally recognized human rights. On March 26, 2020, we signed our Declaration of Principles on Respect for Human Rights. This sets out rules of conduct and measures with which we do what we can, in order to ensure respect for human rights - wherever we operate.

Our membership in the United Nations Global Compact, which we have held since 2012, also underscores that recognizing human rights is a matter of course for a global technology company like ZF.

Both in our dealings with each other and with our business partners, we place great value on mutual respect and trust. We respect the dignity, privacy, and personal rights of every individual. This is reflected in our Code of Conduct, which applies to all employees, as well as in our Business Partner Code of Conduct.

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct underpins ZF’s principles of business behavior.

Business Partner Code of Conduct

Prevent risks jointly with business partners and maintain the trust of customers.

These guidelines as well as further key documents comply with the applicable principles and conventions, as the Principles of the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the relevant conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

We report our progress in the UK Modern Slavery Act, California Transparency Act, as well as in the Sustainability Report.

In order to review constantly what has been achieved and adjust targets, ZF has established a Human Rights Working Group. This cross-functional working group is important for further developing and implementing the strategy. The group also acts in an advisory role and acts as a multiplier within the Group.

We are committed to abolishing slavery, forced labor and exploitative child labor. After all, ZF stands for fair working conditions, equal rights, and fair pay along the entire value chain.

Through internal and external communication, but also through participation in stakeholder dialogs, we contribute to bringing the issue of human rights further into society.

Human Rights
Due-Diligence

The basis of our human rights due diligence approach is a comprehensive risk analysis and risk assessment for our Group and for our supply chain. This enables us to make our progress visible, check implementation and create a basis for working on improvements, together with those affected. As an important tool, we use audits and training in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

An important part of our due diligence is to establish notification system that are easy to access for rights holders. These mechanisms also serve as early warning systems for us. Our whistleblowing system ZF Trustline is one of the tools we use. In addition, we also rely on dialog formats with rights holders at eye level; in this context, we are open to suggestions for improvement.

Responsibility in the Value Chain

In order to fulfill our responsibility in the supply chain, we require our suppliers to accept the ZF Business Partner Code of Conduct and to implement our principles in their own supply chain. Business partners are not only expected to reject any form of slavery, forced labor, and child labor. ZF also expects them to respect the freedom of association and the right to form interest groups, to offer fair and appropriate remuneration and working hours in accordance with applicable law, and to promote the qualification of their employees.

The Code is in line with various principles and conventions, such as the Principles of the UN Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the relevant Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The values and standards formulated are not only part of the ZF Business Partner Code of Conduct, but already determine the selection of our suppliers. As part of the new approval process and when selecting suppliers, ZF requires potential, new, and existing suppliers to conduct a self-assessment based on the scopes of the Business Partner Principles. For this purpose, ZF uses a self-disclosure questionnaire on the topic of sustainability, the Sustainability Criterion. It covers the scopes of carbon footprint, human rights, and compliance, as well as environment, health, and safety (EHS). Since its introduction, all production material suppliers with a pending approval or procurement case have to fulfill this requirement. As part of the continuous development of our approach, ZF has decided in 2021 to gradually replace the questionnaire with Drive Sustainability's standardized and industry-specific Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).

ZF uses the risk management process to systematically analyze and evaluate its supply chain with a view to compliance with social and environmental standards and to identify risks at an early stage.

As a result, we have identified suppliers who might be at risk of violating sustainability standards. Accordingly, we request these suppliers to complete the Self-Assessment-Questionnaire (SAQ) through NQC Ltd. in order to provide transparency and information. After verification of the questionnaire, ZF supplements the result with additional information on the suppliers' sustainability performance using its own systems. This results in an internal risk assessment for the supplier location. In addition to the NQC Self-Assessment-Questionnaire (SAQ), we use audits and training in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

Dealing With Risk Raw Materials – a Key ZF Task

Following a risk-based approach, ZF classifies some raw materials as critical materials and focuses on maximum transparency in the value chain.

Gold, coltan, cassiterite, wolframite and its derivatives such as tantalum, tin or tungsten are referred to as conflict minerals because mining and trading of these minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjacent countries also serve to finance armed conflicts. ZF requires all relevant suppliers of production materials to disclose the origin of their resources. The company uses a web-based solution for this purpose. If ZF suppliers have potentially high-risk sources of supply, ZF initiates further checks and requests these suppliers to remove critical smelters from their supply chain. Subsequently, the suppliers have to prove that resources are no longer sourced from the smelters identified as questionable.

Interview with Jasmina Brancazio - Human Right Officer at ZF

Managing Human Rights Professionally

Sustainable business includes adhering to human rights. ZF is also liable for its suppliers – worldwide. Jasmina Brancazio, Human Rights Officer at ZF, discuses the current status of protective measures and challenges.

Jasmina Brancazio

What is the significance of human rights for ZF?

The respect for human rights along the entire value chain is the foundation on which we build our sustainable business. Such respect has always been a given for ZF. However, ZF's accession to the UN Global Compact in April 2012 systematized efforts and increased transparency. In summer 2012, ZF introduced the "Sustainability Management Supply Chain." In addition, monitoring was implemented to identify negative reports on CSR topics of our suppliers.

Acting for all people

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion enhance our creativity, increase our innovational power, and are key to business success. We offer equal opportunities in a diverse working environment.

It’s About Community

At a time in which the pace of change is increasing sharply, the ZF Way provides orientation for ZF employees as they journey together towards the future.

ZF as an Employer

Constructive feedback, teamwork and mutual respect are guiding principles of working life at ZF.

Social Commitment

ZF founded in 2015 the association "ZF hilft. e.V." and collects donations of employees and customers for relief projects worldwide. The donations come to 100% with the projects.

Education

The technical education facility for pupils and adolescents - the knowledge workshop "Wissenswerkstatt" - is an integral part of the extensive educational commitment.

Art and Culture

The ZF Art Foundation supports artists, musicians, festivals, and nonprofit institutions.

Annual Report 2023: Sustainability

In the annual report, you will find important data and facts about sustainability. The ZF Sustainability Report is part of the annual report.

The sustainability report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI standards (Core option) and the TCFD standards.

Further Information

EU OSHA Health Workplaces

ZF is an official campaign partner of the EU OSHAS Health Workplaces Campaign "Safe and healthy work in the digital age".

Human Rights in the Supply Chain

Declaration of Principles Concerning the Respect of Human Rights.