Audi is campaigning for more diversity and inclusion in business relationships

With its Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, Audi will be pushing for more equal participation in business relationships in the future. The focus is on the cooperation with diverse suppliers.

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Everyone is talking about diversity and inclusion (D&I). But what does that mean for the business relationships that Audi maintains, and how can we integrate D&I here? Our general understanding of diversity is that people with different skills and stories come together to work. Not all people are represented equally in (economic) life, and they do not have the same opportunities of participation from the outset. This is why we are campaigning actively for more diversity. Our aim is to contribute to making our professional environment more diverse overall.

 

We have already taken a number of measures that help us act in a more diverse and inclusive way. We have been implementing holistic diversity management since 2017, the international production sites of the Audi Group have been gradually following suit since 2019, and the worldwide sales locations will follow in the future. Audi is focusing increasingly on creating a common understanding and raising the awareness among the employees in its own organization. This includes training courses on unconscious bias, toolboxes for inclusive leadership and equal-opportunity processes, as well as cooperations with external initiatives to promote diversity.

 

We are now expanding this commitment to our business relationships. We want to work together more closely with diverse suppliers in our day-to-day work, for example with social businesses and minority-owned businesses (MOBs). Together with our suppliers, we aim to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are important aspects that can be leveraged on our journey toward successful and more sustainable cooperation.

Social businesses are businesses whose purpose is to solve social and environmental problems. Their profits are usually reinvested in sustainable and social causes, scaling the impact effect of their total operations.

 

We define minority-owned businesses (MOBs) as (small) companies that are run or owned by at least 51% members of underrepresented groups such as women, people with disabilities, BIPoC1, members of the LGBT*IQ community2, or others.

Audi is on a journey to more diversity in business relationships

We are paving the way to more diversity in business relationships in multiple stages.

Expansion of the Code of Conduct for Business Partners

To start with, we have expanded the Code of Conduct for Business Partners by including diversity criteria. In these rules and regulations, the Volkswagen Group has summarized its sustainability requirements for partner companies. The specified environmental, social, and compliance guidelines are the basis for collaboration and an established element of the risk assessment processes. The aim is to strongly encourage supplier companies to consider diversity and inclusion in their own companies and when selecting their suppliers.

Examination of the status quo of the supplier structure

We have started to examine the status quo of our supplier structure by conducting data analyses. This overview forms the basis for the next steps: The aim is to increase awareness for diversity in business relationships in order to promote transparency and equal participation.

Focus on structures and processes in procurement

We are also focusing on structures and processes in our procurement. In addition to the traditional factors of quality, degree of innovation and competitiveness of our partners, we aim to make diversity visible in the future. We are starting off with selected supplier companies from the procurement of services, for example creative and event agencies.

Training measures for supplier diversity and inclusion

We are conducting internal and external training measures to highlight the importance of supplier diversity and inclusion. In an exchange with Audi employees and various partner companies, we have identified possible aspects that can be leveraged in processes and structures of procurement that will help us to raise our awareness of diversity in the future. This information contributes to better understanding and reducing possible access barriers at Audi in the future.

Strengthening social businesses

We are working to strengthen the integration of social businesses into our value chain by participating in the “Unusual Partners” program run by Yunus Social Business, a Berlin-based social innovation organization. The “Unusual Partners” program focuses on the potential integration of impact-focused businesses into Audi's value chain and indirect spend. This makes it an important part of Audi’s Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, which seeks to engage not only with minority-owned businesses (MOBs) but also with “Unusual Partners” or those relatively smaller entities that would have potential barriers to corporate tenders. Our aim is to expand our portfolio of suppliers to include MOBs as well as suppliers that are dedicated to solving relevant social and environmental problems. In addition to identifying suitable social businesses for Audi, the “Unusual Partners” program focuses on capacity building. Online training on the topic of social procurement is planned for suppliers and Audi employees in order to empower them to secure the success of their social procurement initiatives.

How we are actively tackling current D&I challenges at Audi

The Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Initiative is a response to various changes in our network that we cannot influence directly. These include disruptions of our supply chain, such as bottlenecks or supply shortages, but also political regulations such as the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, LkSG). This law obligates us to fulfill our human rights and environment-related due diligence and promote equal opportunities. The purpose of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion@Audi is to live up to our corporate responsibility toward our long-standing partners as well as future cooperations and campaign for more fairness. At the same time, the automotive industry is under high pressure to produce innovations. Ecological and social challenges require new ideas and approaches. Innovative and inclusive solutions that address and consider the various needs are important aspects that can be leveraged here. By working together with diverse suppliers, we want to increase our innovation potential and take an innovative and fair approach to addressing the challenges of our time. For example, diverse teams achieve 19% higher sales on average through innovative products and services.

“The basic idea behind our efforts is to consider and use as many perspectives as possible. After all, more diversity means more competitors and, in the end, more economic opportunities for everyone: for us as a company, for our partner companies and for society.”

Bernd Zielke, Steering Procurement Division

There is a great and growing social relevance and business case for diversity

D&I are becoming ever more important drivers both socially and economically. Diverse companies verifiably generate more profit. Diversity promotes innovation as well as employee and customer satisfaction. At the same time, numerous studies show that many groups of people are not yet treated equally in all areas of life. For example, although one third of private supply companies worldwide are owned by women, only 1% of the spendings of Groups and governments go to these companies. We aim to identify and promote the success factors of diversity in our partnerships. With our Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, we are therefore also pursuing the aim of strengthening our supply chain. We can achieve this through the participation of diverse companies.

Do you recognize yourself in our definition of a diverse partner company and are interested in contributing this strength as part of your service portfolio?

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