Communication on Progress 2020

  • 2020/11/30
Time period
  • November 2019  –  November 2020
  • Stand alone document – Basic COP Template
Differentiation Level
  • This COP qualifies for the Global Compact Active level
  • Includes a CEO statement of continued support for the UN Global Compact and its ten principles
  • Description of actions or relevant policies related to Human Rights
  • Description of actions or relevant policies related to Labour
  • Description of actions or relevant policies related to Environment
  • Description of actions or relevant policies related to Anti-Corruption
  • Includes a measurement of outcomes
  • Statement of continued support by the Chief Executive Officer
  • Statement of the company's chief executive (CEO or equivalent) expressing continued support for the Global Compact and renewing the company's ongoing commitment to the initiative and its principles.

  • To our stakeholders:

    I am pleased to confirm that DQS CFS GmbH reaffirms its support of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption.

    In this annual Communication on Progress, we describe our actions to continually improve the integration of the Global Compact and its principles into our business strategy, culture and daily operations. We also commit to sharing this information with our stakeholders using our primary channels of communication.
    Sincerely yours,

    Dr. Sied Sadek
    Managing Director (CEO)

Human Rights
  • Assessment, policy and goals
  • Description of the relevance of human rights for the company (i.e. human rights risk-assessment). Description of policies, public commitments and company goals on Human Rights.

  • Respect for human rights is a core value of DQS CFS GmbH. In order to detect possible issues and set up an effective human rights policy, we have conducted a comprehensive materiality analysis to identify the key aspects of our operations which may have an influence (positive or negative) on human rights. This analysis has shown that the largest potential impact on human rights lies with our social responsibility audits: as a certification and auditing body, DQS conducts hundreds of human rights audits and responsible sourcing audits across the globe. During these audits, qualified DQS auditors analyze the labor conditions and the health & safety situation at selected suppliers, in order to provide assurance that international standards are met. Therefore, our biggest impact is not through our own supply chain, but through the supplier audits we conduct for our customers.

    We firmly believe that social and ethical audits lead to more responsible supply chains and as such make the lives of workers around the world better. Accordingly, the main focus of our efforts is to ensure that all DQS audits are conducted in a highly professional, impartial and competent manner and as described in our quality management manual and the respective auditing guidelines for the various standards.

    (For an overview of what DQS does for its own employees, please consult the section on labor below.)

  • Implementation
  • Description of concrete actions to implement Human Rights policies, address Human Rights risks and respond to Human Rights violations.

  • In order to make sure that social audits conducted by DQS contribute to improving social responsibility in supply chains, we have taken the following measures:

    - DQS continues to contribute to the Sedex Stakeholder Forum, a working group made up of commercial auditing companies and NGOs that are significantly involved in ethical trade auditing. The purpose of the SSF is to drive convergence in ethical trade/social auditing, based on and helping to shape best practice.
    - DQS has become a member of the Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors (APSCA), an initiative that aims to ensure the professionalism and competence of social auditors and to drive best practices across the industry.
    - DQS has implemented a unified auditing process with the necessary checks and balances to ensure the impartiality, independence and credibility of audits and audit reports.
     DQS manages auditor competence through its auditor competence program, consisting of continuous education and training, calibration sessions, witness audits and performance reviews.

    Specifically for the year 2020, we are happy to report the following initiatives and measures:

    • Back in 2018, discussions with a large variety of stakeholders as well as analysis of current social auditing practice has revealed a need for greater gender awareness in social auditing. As announced in our 2018 report, we had launched the ProGASA-Initiative, which stands for Promotion of Gender Awareness in Social Auditing. The goal of the initiative is to raise gender awareness among social auditors and to provide them with the practical tools to detect and report gender related non-conformities. Ultimately, the initiative should help ensure that social audits are an effective instrument to combat gender-related harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Although the roll-out of the initiative took longer than expected, we are happy to report the release of two e-learning courses on gender awareness in social auditing. All social compliance auditors of the DQS Group have taken the course. By doing so, we ensure that our social auditors understand the dynamics of gender-based harassment, discrimination and violation in the world of work. The course has also been made available to any interested party. (
    • In the Summer of 2018, DQS has enrolled all of its social auditors in the APSCA platform, which has been created to ensure the professionalism of social auditors. The APSCA initiative will lead to greater credibility of social audits and thereby contribute to the human rights monitoring in supply chains. In 2019, the first auditors have taken the APSCA exam, as we continue to support the mission of this initiative. In 2020, DQS submitted its application for continued membership.

  • Measurement of outcomes
  • Description of how the company monitors and evaluates performance.

  • In order to evaluate how our social audits contribute to more sustainable supply chains, DQS engages with its stakeholders through a variety of channels. Participating in working groups with NGOs, suppliers and buyers provides us with structured feedback on auditing practices and follow-up. This approach has not only enabled us to successfully conduct hundreds of social audits, it also ensures that the audit findings are understood and acted upon by all stakeholders, to the benefit of all workers in the supply chain.

  • Assessment, policy and goals
  • Description of the relevance of labour rights for the company (i.e. labour rights-related risks and opportunities). Description of written policies, public commitments and company goals on labour rights.

  • The materiality analysis has shown that workplace safety & working conditions is a highly relevant aspect of the sustainability performance of DQS in two ways: Not only do we have the responsibility to provide safe and fair working conditions for all DQS employees, we also have a responsibility towards the employees of our customers, who rely on DQS to audit their working conditions and their OHSAS management systems.

    It is one of the main objectives of DQS to create a safe, diverse and fair working environment for its employees. This includes the following commitments:
    - To provide a healthy workplace with minimal risk of physical problems arising out of or occurring during the work
    - To offer equal pay for equal work
    - To actively prevent discrimination in all of its forms, whether it is based on age, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disability
    - To respect international labor rights and the applicable laws and regulations, for example in relation to working hours, rights of association, labor contracts, etc.
    - To actively foster a respectful working environment, without any abusive, harassing or offensive conduct, whether verbal or physical by employees
    - To contribute to an appropriate work-life balance, with support for part-time work and flexible working arrangements that are possible also in management positions.

    Finally, DQS also has a responsibility towards the employees of the companies it audits. The audits we provide can lead to improvements in the working conditions along the supply chain, provided that the audits are conducted in a highly professional and competent manner. For more information on this aspect, please refer to the section above on human rights.

  • Implementation
  • Description of concrete actions taken by the company to implement labour policies, address labour risks and respond to labour violations.

  • To meet the commitments outlined above, we have implemented the following measures:

    - Ethics Code: Every employee has to sign the Ethics Code of the DQS Group. This gives every member of staff a personal responsibility to treat people fairly and without prejudice, to value each other’s input, to ensure that no one is harassed or bullied in any way, to promote a work environment where everyone feels confident to report incidents and to foster diversity in the workplace. Monitoring compliance with the ethics code is the responsibility of the top management.
    - Corporate Health Management: Every employee has been provided with an ergonomic work station. The “DQS Fit”-initiative encourages all employees to assume an active lifestyle and includes various sports sessions, accessible to all staff members.
    - Team building & employee-participation: DQS CFS organizes regular one-day workshops with teambuilding exercises, focusing on employee-feedback and process optimization.
    - Employee dialogue: Constant dialogue with the employees is the best way to ensure a good working environment. The management therefore has a responsibility to monitor the employees’ wellbeing, both on a regular basis and through the yearly “Performance and Development review”.
    - Work-Life balance: The record-keeping system for working hours enables all staff members to record overtime and to take additional days off in compensation. The system also enables the management to monitor the workload and to take appropriate measures when the workload becomes too high for individual members of staff. Various part-time schemes and flexible working hours allow employees to combine work with their family life.
    - Violations procedure: A violations procedure has been put in place, encouraging all staff members to report any incidents and issues. Staff members who report violations are protected from any retaliation efforts.

  • Measurement of outcomes
  • Description of how the company monitors and evaluates performance.

  • The following indicators and tools enable us to monitor the effectiveness of the measures outlined above:
    - Diversity in workplace and in management
    - Working hours tracking system
    - Employee retention rate
    - Employee attendance rate
    - Number of violations reported
    - Internal audits
    - Top management review of employee feedback dialogues

  • Assessment, policy and goals
  • Description of the relevance of environmental protection for the company (i.e. environmental risks and opportunities). Description of policies, public commitments and company goals on environmental protection.

  • As for the topics mentioned above, DQS again has a double responsibility when it comes to the environment: we carry both responsibility for the direct impact of our operations as well as for the operations of our customers, through the environmental audits we conduct.

    A materiality analysis has shown that the second aspect is more significant than the first: the DQS Group conducts over 6000 environmental audits every year and thereby functions as a catalyst. DQS is an accredited body for the certification of environmental management systems as well as for sustainable agriculture audits, environmental product certification and verification of environmental KPIs. As such, DQS has a duty to strive for the highest level of quality, in order to ensure that our environmental audits lead to real improvements of the environmental performance of the auditees. We also have a responsibility towards the public, who needs to be able to put confidence in the certificates and labels we issue.

    In addition, DQS has also made efforts to improve its own environmental performance and to lead by example. In 2020, we calculated our carbon footprint for the year 2019. The footprint covered scopes 1, 2 and 3. The calculation of our carbon footprint has helped us gain a better understanding of where emissions occur, and where we should focus our efforts to reduce them. As a service provider, the overwhelming majority of our emissions are related to auditor travel. Upscaling remote audits (see below) has the potential to reduce our emissions drastically, although it is too early to make a reliable estimate of the potential impact. For an overview of the measures taken, please refer to the section below.

  • Implementation
  • Description of concrete actions to implement environmental policies, address environmental risks and respond to environmental incidents.

  • To reduce our environmental impact and to exert a positive influence, we have taken the following measures:
    - Competence of environmental & energy auditors: In order to drive environmental best practices in the industry, DQS has taken various measures to ensure auditor competence meets the highest international standards. This includes, but is not limited to, continuous education and training, calibration sessions, witness audits and performance reviews for all environmental and energy auditors.
    - Reduction of travel: DQS continues to extend its network of local auditors all over the globe, in order to reduce the travel times for each audit. Whenever possible, customer representatives appoint local auditors to ensure minimal travel. Whenever allowed, remote auditing is considered (see below). Meetings are conducted through video conferencing whenever possible.
    - Paperless office: All administration is handled digitally.
    - Public transport for employees: DQS encourages its staff to use public transport to travel to work and provides financially attractive train tickets.

    Specifically for the year 2020, we would like to highlight the following measures and initiatives:
    - 2020 has seen the breakthrough of remote auditing. While accreditation requirements and scheme owners guidelines ruled out large-scale remote auditing in the past, the pandemic has forced everyone to reconsider. DQS CFS supports remote auditing as an equally effective audit approach and strives to be a frontrunner in this respect.
    - 2020 has been the breakthrough year for webinars and virtual events, and DQS CFS has been no exception. The pandemic has shown that virtual events are at least as exciting as in-person events, with our annual Sustainability Conference as a prime example. We are confident that virtual events are now here to stay and are committed to making them an essential component of our events and trainings program.

  • Measurement of outcomes
  • Description of how the company monitors and evaluates environmental performance.

  • The following indicators and tools enable us to monitor the effectiveness of the measures outlined above:

    - Auditor competence: customer feedback, auditor peer witness audits, internal audits, accreditation audits
    - Travel: Number of audits performed by local auditors ( > 90 %)
    - Number of trainings that have been conducted online vs. number of classroom trainings
    - Number of on-site audits that have been replaced by remote auditing

    The ability of DQS to make its audits carbon-neutral without large-scale offsetting will depend upon whether or not accreditation bodies will approve large-scale remote auditing in the post-Covid-19 world. In 2020, around 14 % of our audits in Germany have been conducted at least partially remotely. This percentage would be significantly higher if we consider only the period from April 2020 to December 2020. Given that the large majority of our GHG emissions stem from auditor travel, we expect to see a significant drop in our emissions compared to 2019.

    However, at the time of writing it remains to be seen to what extent remote auditing will become the norm. Because the situation is currently very dynamic, it is virtually impossible to make an accurate prognosis.

  • Assessment, policy and goals
  • Description of the relevance of anti-corruption for the company (i.e. anti-corruption risk-assessment). Description of policies, public commitments and company goals on anti-corruption.

  • As a certification body, impartiality and incorruptibility are crucial in order to ensure the credibility of certificates and audit reports. DQS has a zero-tolerance for corruption and has implemented the necessary processes and control points to prevent corruption on all levels of the organization.

    The DQS Ethics Code commits all DQS staff to act in accordance with the law, to refuse bribery and corruption, to not tolerate illegal or unethical behavior by clients, suppliers or by public officials; and to adhere to high standards of ethical conduct around the world, including the ten principles of the UN Global Compact.

    In accordance with the Ethics Code, all hospitality and gifts need to be declared. Any approaches by other organizations that could be construed as bribery need to be refused. All supplier bids need to be managed through a clear, fair and open process and decisions based on quality of service, price and conformance to our company policies on environmental management and ethical practices.

    DQS encourages whistle-blowers to come forward and to report the violations in accordance with our internal processes. Whistleblowers will be protected against any retaliation efforts.

    Following the publication of the International Standard for Anti-Bribery Management Systems ISO 37001 in 2016, DQS CFS has developed its ISO 37001 certification program. Needless to say, the integrity and impartiality of anti-corruption auditors should be absolutely impeccable, which is why we took this opportunity to re-affirm the values of DQS.

  • Implementation
  • Description of concrete actions to implement anti-corruption policies, address anti-corruption risks and respond to incidents.

  • - Ethics code: Every employee has to sign the Ethics Code of the DQS Group, which outlines clear rules for preventing bribery and corruption.
    - Processes and control points: DQS has set up its certification processes in accordance with ISO 19011 and is accredited by the German accreditation body DAkkS. These processes include multiple checks and balances to safeguard the independence of the auditor and the certification body.
    - Monitoring: Internal audits and accreditation audits are used to verify the effectiveness of the processes, specifically with regard to the impartiality of the auditor and the certification body.
    - Violations procedure: All stakeholders, including but not limited to staff members, are encouraged to report violations. This may include bribery, corruption, breach of internal policies, unauthorized disclosures of confidential information, failure to comply with legal obligations, criminal offenses, etc. DQS has the appropriate procedures in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation efforts.

    After obtaining accreditation from the German Accreditation Body DAkkS for the certification of organizations to ISO 37001, the standard for anti-bribery management systems, in 2018, 2019 was a year full of training and capacity building. Our anti-bribery experts held trainings internationally in Germany, Mexico and Turkey, providing much-needed expertise on effective anti-bribery management.

    In order to ensure the lasting competence of our auditors, we became a member of the German Institute for Compliance (DICO).

  • Measurement of outcomes
  • Description of how the company monitors and evaluates anti-corruption performance.

  • Compliance with the code is measured through various means:

    - Internal audits: The internal audits evaluate whether all staff follow the documented procedures, in order to make sure all certification decisions are made in accordance with the applicable regulations.
    - Accreditation audits: Audits performed by the German accreditation body DAkkS are conducted to verify whether DQS operates in accordance with the applicable accreditation standards. This includes processes to ensure impartiality, independence and incorruptibility.
    - Auditor witness reports: Auditors are regularly assigned to monitor the performance of other auditors. Any irregularities must be included in a witness report.
    - Violations: All reported violations are duly investigated