Our Code of Conduct
Our Code of Conduct serves a vital purpose: to ensure that everyone in the Suedwolle Group is adequately informed about applicable laws and company guidelines, and to raise awareness of legal risks in everyday work life. It summarizes laws and other rules that are particularly relevant to our company and provides a binding guide for acting in a legally compliant and ethically responsible manner. The Code of Conduct also establishes the standard for responsible behaviour towards business partners and the public, as well as interactions within the company. All individuals in the company – employees, management, and the supervisory board – are obligated to adhere to the principles outlined in the Code of Conduct.
Description of the whistleblower system of Suedwolle Group
The Suedwolle Group takes its responsibility especially regarding human rights and environmental aspects very seriously. In order to implement the Whistleblower Protection Act (HinSchG) and the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG), the Suedwolle Group has implemented the following measures as part of a whistleblower option.
Employees as well as suppliers, representatives and subcontractors (hereinafter jointly referred to as “business partners”) can report violations of the Suedwolle Group’s Code of Conduct to email@example.com.
Business partners must ensure that their own business partners are also informed about this reporting procedure and made aware of its confidential nature. In addition to the above-mentioned contact option, the Suedwolle Group has also set up an external Ombuds Office.
Reports to the Ombuds Office can be made confidentially and the identity of the reporter is not disclosed.
The Ombuds Office can be reached as follows:
Baker Tilly Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
Nymphenburger Str. 3b
Telephone: +49 89 55066-525
German version: Informationen für Hinweisgeber
The term “Suedwolle Group” includes Suedwolle Group GmbH and all affiliated as well as ERWO Holding AG and its affiliated companies (§§ 15 et seq. of the German Stock Corporation Act).
The term “Ombuds Office” refers to the provision of an external and impartial whistleblower system by the Suedwolle Group, which operates according to the application principles defined below.
Suedwolle Group operates a company-wide, transparent, public and barrier-free accessible, uniform complaints and reporting procedure. All complaints and reports from employees or third parties are treated equally – to the extent permitted by law.
Any sign of illegal behaviour that has a corporate connection to the Suedwolle Group or is not in accordance with internal company guidelines. This must not, however, include allegations against better judgement. In case of doubt, the Ombuds Office is also available to discuss whether an observation falls within the scope of the Ombuds Office.
All authorised persons described below should be able to report behaviour that is not in accordance with the law or does not comply with our “Code of Conduct”, to the responsible persons, without fear of prejudice or any other such repercussions.
By providing the Ombuds Office, Suedwolle Group is also participating in an external complaints procedure for implementing the requirements of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG). This gives the following authorized persons the opportunity to point out human rights or environmental risks, or to report violations of human or environmental rights, which are associated with the corporate actions of the Suedwolle Group or its business partners.
Reports that are not connected to the described purpose may be rejected.
The aim of the Ombuds Office is to prevent and resolve violations against the law, in particular economic offences (e.g. corruption, antitrust violations, fraud, and embezzlement), in connection with the Suedwolle Group, as well as other company-related criminal offences, or violations of the Suedwolle Group’s compliance guidelines or standards of conduct. The Ombuds Office additionally seeks to prevent the violation of human and environmental rights.
The Ombuds Office is available to all current and former employees, including trainees, temporary personnel, and interns, as well as to business partners of the Suedwolle Group (hereinafter referred to as “persons authorized to report”).
The qualified processing of all reports received by the Ombuds Office is carried out in accordance with a standardized procedure by Baker Tilly Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.
When information is received by the Ombuds Office, a further course of action is always agreed between the Ombuds Office and the whistleblower, unless the latter is to remain anonymous. Following its receipt, the information is subjected to a qualified review, to verify its credibility and plausibility. An initial assessment of the legal position is also conducted, and recommendations for a further course of action are made. A separate inquiry into the facts of the matter is not carried out. The whistleblower receives qualified feedback if he/she is known to the Ombuds Office.
As soon as the report has been reviewed and a course of action is agreed upon, the Ombuds Office will forward the case to the responsible department within the Suedwolle Group, usually the Compliance Officer, for processing and clarification. During the investigation the responsible department examines all relevant documents, talks to witnesses and the persons concerned and – if necessary – analyses electronic data. At the end of the investigation, the results are summarized in a report and generally sent to the internal departments that require this information.
Possible results of the fact-finding include recommendations for disciplinary measures (such as termination, warning, transfer) or on other remedial actions, such as in risk management or other internal processes.
All employees who assist in internal fact-finding must adhere to certain rules of conduct, such as:
- The person making the report must be protected! Neither names nor details may be disclosed without reason.
- Everyone must comply with the law and Suedwolle Group internal regulations.
- All fact-finding must be conducted fairly and with respect. All facts must be evaluated objectively and conscientiously.
- Those affected have the right to be heard.
- Data and information must be treated confidentially.
- As soon as the employee realizes that he or she is in a conflict of interest, i.e. that for personal reasons it is difficult for him or her to conduct the investigation objectively, he or she must report this. The investigating department will then transfer the case to another employee.
- The reporting department can close the case if the report was incomplete or not comprehensible.
- Insofar as it is possible and legally permissible, the Ombuds Office will inform the whistleblower within three months of the measures taken – even if the clarification of the matter has not been completed by then.
Yes, every person authorized to report has the option of submitting the report anonymously. If the person authorized to report reveals his/her identity, the Ombuds Office will treat this identity as confidential at the request of this person.
The Ombuds Office assert that they will not, under any circumstances, reveal the name of the whistleblower to the Suedwolle Group, if the whistleblower wishes to remain anonymous. Suedwolle Group has contractually waived any requests for information from the Ombuds Office.
Only in cases where the whistleblower expressly permits the Ombuds Office to forward the information provided and to disclose his/her identity to the Suedwolle Group will the Ombuds Office pass these details on to the authorized contacts of the Suedwolle Group.
In the case of anonymous reports, it should be noted that communication with anonymous whistleblowers can be difficult or even impossible. In such cases, it is not possible for the Ombudsman’s Office to provide the anonymous whistleblower with feedback on the handling of his case. The clarification of the facts can also be made considerably more difficult.
As licensed lawyers, the Ombuds Office is professionally and legally bound to secrecy. The Ombuds Office will only pass on the report or information from the report to third parties (including the Suedwolle Group) if the reporting party has explicitly agreed to this.
The Ombuds Office is not subject to any form of instruction from third parties, and particularly not from the Suedwolle Group, with regard to submitted reports. The Ombuds Office is impartial. In particular, they are at liberty to assess the facts and to communicate with the reporting party.
Suedwolle Group expects its employees to take joint responsibility for compliance with legal and internal regulations.
In this context, the use of the available reporting procedure and reporting of any knowledge of improper conduct in business transactions, of other criminal matters pertaining to the company, or of violations of internal company regulations, is welcomed.
We explicitly wish to point out, however, that the use of this procedure is entirely voluntary, unless legal or contractual notification requirements already exist.
Note: Legal or contractual notification requirements of this nature currently only exist if there is an immediate, substantial risk to safety or health within the company or a flaw is identified in the company’s occupational health system, or if there is a risk of considerable personal injury or serious property damage for the company which is still currently avoidable.
As an alternative to the option of reporting via the Ombudsman’s Office described here, employees of Suedwolle Group, business partners and third parties can also report compliance-relevant matters to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please find the contact details for the Ombuds Office on top of this page. Information can be provided in person, by telephone, in writing, or using electronic media (e-mail, SMS).
• By phone: Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 18:00 pm (Central European Time)
• Personally: by appointment
• E-mail, SMS: at any time
Information can be provided in German or English. Reports in other languages can be submitted by e-mail. These will be machine-translated. In these instances, an answer will always be provided in English. If serious violations are suspected, a translation agency bound to confidentiality will be called in to enable communication in the language of the reporting party.
No. The reporting party will not incur any costs as a result of using the Ombuds Office.
No. Any form of discrimination against reporting parties is strictly prohibited in accordance with the Suedwolle Group compliance policy. Individuals who file complaints or reports in good faith will not be penalized for doing so.
If you believe that you or any other person has been retaliated against or that you or any other person has been retaliated against in any way for filing a complaint please notify Suedwolle Group immediately through one of the company’s reporting channels.