Sustainability Report 2020

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Corporate Governance and Responsible Business Practices


SDG 8 (Icon)
SDG 17 (Icon)

Overview of the Action Area

We consider ourselves to be a trustworthy and reliable partner for all our stakeholders. It is important to us that they also see us the same way. It goes without saying that all of our employees comply with laws and regulations. Just as important are our own sustainable guidelines, which form the basis for all our activities and decisions.

The foundation for our commercial success is corporate governance that is considered by our various stakeholders to be trustworthy and reliable. We achieve this by ensuring that the whole company is committed to our corporate governance policies and puts them into practice on a day-to-day basis. We are guided by various internal guidelines including our Code of Conduct, the Vonovia Business Partner Code, the Declaration of Respect for Human Rights and the strict legislation in place in the countries in which we operate. Our commitment to these standards is reinforced by the annual Declaration of Conformity with the principles of the German Corporate Governance Code (GCGC).

Highlights 2020

  • Sustainability Performance Index introduced as a key performance indicator and linked to remuneration of Management Board and first level of management
  • All 12 members of the Supervisory Board independent
  • Anti-corruption system enhanced
  • Independent whistleblower hotline launched
  • Data protection and privacy system established across the Group
  • UN Global Compact signed
  • Declaration of Respect for Human Rights published

We took a close look at our company’s remuneration policies in 2020 and decided to link the variable remuneration of the Management Board and the first management level to the achievement of sustainability targets. For this purpose we developed the Sustainability Performance Index (SPI), which comprises six material non-financial performance indicators and will be a material management metric for Vonovia from 2021 onwards.

The compliance management system gives us and our customers certainty in our everyday activities and helps us to protect the integrity of our company. The system is based on the principles of avoidance, detection and reaction. We prioritize using measures that prevent violations in the first place. The Compliance Guidelines are the core of our compliance management. We continued to expand the system for preventing and combating corruption in 2020. This system includes the whistleblowing guidelines, anonymous whistleblowing hotline and the tax strategy we adopted in 2018 to provide transparency about our tax activities.

Human rights are another topic that is becoming increasingly important at Vonovia – and not just because of the new due diligence legislation. We use many different services from external partners for construction and refurbishment purposes, e.g., construction services and materials. All of our partners and their subcontractors must comply with applicable labor and social standards, with no exceptions. The Vonovia Business Partner Code is one of the tools we use to ensure this is the case. Human rights violations are not acceptable to us under any circumstances and we will take action accordingly. We are very clear about communicating our position externally and committed to the UN Global Compact (UNGC) in 2020.

We do not operate in a vacuum, but as an active part of society. We engage with our stakeholders on an equal footing in many different formats. Their opinions make a valuable contribution to what we do as a company. We are also involved in many industry associations and initiatives, though which we make our convictions and concerns known to political decision-makers. At the same time we have no party-political affiliation and do not make donations to political parties.

It is also becoming increasingly clear how important the structured management of information and data is for our business. Protecting it is particularly important for us, because we not only work with information about commercial entities, but also with personal data. Binding uniform Group-wide rules, our data protection officer, and the data protection coordinators in the divisions ensure the highest possible level of data protection.

We have identified Governance and Compliance as a material topic in the action area Responsible Business Practices and Governance. Other important topics are Stakeholder Orientation, Respect and Promotion of Human Rights, Information Management and Data Protection.


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