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Acting and developing with foresight

We have been running HGDF as a family business for nine generations. We have only succeeded in keeping our business on track for so long because we think and act in a far-sighted and responsible manner.

Values

Governance

Our idea of business success is growth in harmony with nature, people and society. We have been leading HGDF according to this principle since the beginning. 

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Environment

HGDF owes a large part of its business success to the sea. Sustainability and environmental responsibility are therefore not a new trend for us, but have always been at the heart of our business. Clear goals for protecting the environment shape all our strategic considerations.

Social responsibility

We promote the individual development of our employees in line with their life situations. We also protect their health and ensure safety in the workplace. We are committed to supporting and promoting activities in our region that serve the common good.

My goal is to drive sustainability issues forward in the HGDF Group. There is a great will for this transformation in the subsidiaries and the business family.

Friederike Rathgens
HGDF Sustainability Management

FAQs on the whistleblower portal in accordance with the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG)

  • The Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, LkSG), or Supply Chain Act for short, came into force on 1 January 2023. The law regulates corporate responsibility for respecting human rights and protecting the environment in global supply chains. This benefits people in the supply chains, companies as well as consumers, who can thus be sure that purchased products and services have been provided under decent conditions.

    In order to detect any human rights or environmental violations along the entire HGDF supply chain at an early stage and thereby prevent harm to the company, employees, partners and consumers, there is a public whistleblower portal that provides whistleblowers with a protected framework for submitting tip-offs.

  • The scope of the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act includes violations within the business unit of HGDF Familienholding GmbH & Co. KG or in the entire supply chain. This includes:

    • Child labour: e.g. the sale of children, child trafficking, bondage, ban on children in prostitution or the production of pornography.
    • Forced labour and slavery: e.g. work that is demanded under threat of punishment, all forms of slavery, slavery-like practices, servitude or other forms of bondage.
    • Violations of occupational health and safety at the workplace: e.g. insufficient safety standards in the provision and maintenance of work equipment, danger due to the absence of suitable protective measures to avoid the effect of chemical, physical or biological substances or danger due to insufficient training and instruction.
    • Violation of the freedom of association:  employees may form or join trade unions. Establishing or joining a trade union or membership in a trade union are not grounds for discrimination or reprisal. Employees have the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining.
    • Unequal treatment/discrimination: e.g. on the basis of national ethnic origin, social origin, health status, disability, sexual orientation, age, gender, political opinion, religion or belief.
    • Reasonable pay: the minimum wage determined by applicable law 
    • Destruction of the natural basis of life: prohibition of harmful soil changes, water and air pollution, harmful noise emissions and excessive water consumption. Denying a person access to proper drinking water. Obstruction/Destruction of a person's access to sanitary facilities.
    • Violation of land rights: prohibition of unlawful confiscation and the unlawful removal of land, forests and waters in connection with the acquisition, development or other use of land, forests and waters whose use secures a person's livelihood. 
    • Commissioning/Use of private or public security forces to protect the commercial project: non-compliance with the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Injury to life and limb. Impairment of the freedom of association.
    • Violation of other human rights:
      • Minamata Convention on Mercury: Manufacture of products containing mercury. Use of mercury or mercury compounds in manufacturing. Handling of mercury waste.  
      • Stockholm Convention (chemicals and persistent organic pollutants): production or use of chemicals. Improper handling, collection, storage or disposal of waste.
      • Basel Convention: import and export of hazardous or other waste.
  • Whistleblowers within the meaning of the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act can include individuals within the business unit and in the entire supply chain of HGDF Familienholding GmbH & Co. KG, who are potentially affected by human rights or environmental violations. In addition to the company's own employees, this also includes employees of direct or indirect suppliers as well as residents around local facilities.

  • At HGDF, a whistleblower portal for reporting violations of human rights or environmental risks is available on the website. The whistleblower portal is publicly accessible, allowing anyone with Internet access along the supply chain to access it. The reporting office representatives can also be reached by telephone.

    What is the procedure for submitting complaints?

    The procedure for submitting a complaint is as follows:

    1. The whistleblower submits all information available to them about a violation using the reporting form.
    2. After the whistleblower has submitted the report via the whistleblower portal, the reporting office representatives send a confirmation of receipt within seven days. The reporting office then checks whether the report falls within the scope of the law. If the complaint is rejected, the whistleblower will receive a brief explanation.
    3. The next step is to clarify the situation. In this step, the whistleblower's help is essential in answering questions and discussing the matter together.
    4. Once the report has been completed and appropriate follow-up measures have been initiated, the whistleblower will be informed. This must occur no later than three months after receipt of the report.
    5. Seven years after completion of the report, the report and all associated information will be deleted.

    The confidentiality of the whistleblower's identity is maintained throughout the process. In addition, whistleblowers are protected from discrimination or punishment on the basis of a complaint.

    Go to whistleblower portal

  • HGDF has appointed two reporting office representatives. These are Sandra Mau and Antje Friedrichsen, both of whom have the necessary expertise. The reporting office representatives are impartial, independent and not bound by instructions in the performance of their duties. In addition, they are obliged to maintain confidentiality.

  • If you have any questions about the system or the laws, please contact
    Sandra Mau (sandra.mau@hgdf.de, 0461-90929-51) or
    Antje Friedrichsen (antje.friedrichsen@hgdf.de, 0461-90929-32).

Information on the whistleblower portal in accordance with the Whistleblower Protection Act (HinSchG)

  • "Employees in companies and authorities are often the first to notice wrongdoings and can use their reports to ensure that legal violations are detected, investigated, prosecuted and prevented. Whistleblowers assume responsibility for society and therefore deserve protection from the discrimination that may threaten them due to their report and which may deter them from submitting reports."

    (https://www.bmj.de/SharedDocs/Gesetzgebungsverfahren/DE/Hinweisgeberschutz.html

    This protection against consequences under employment law is regulated in the Whistleblower Protection Act (Hinweisgeberschutzgesetz, HinSchG). The Whistleblower Protection Act is the German implementation of the EU Whistleblower Directive. It was promulgated in the Bundestag on 2 June 2023 and entered into force on 2 July 2023. The Whistleblower Protection Act requires companies to set up secure channels for reporting concerns and prohibits any reprisals against whistleblowers.

  • The scope only includes information about violations in connection with professional and official activities. Whistleblowers can only make reports about the employer or about people and companies with whom they have a professional relationship.

    Violations within the meaning of the Whistleblower Protection Act include:

    • Criminal offences, such as bribery, threats, corruption, theft, insults/discrimination or bodily harm
    • Violations of general regulations such as occupational health and safety, health protection or minimum wage law
    • Violations of legal regulations such as money laundering and terrorist financing, product safety requirements, quality and safety standards for medicinal products and medical devices, consumer and health protection, regulations in the field of competition law, environmental protection or IT security and data protection requirements
  • Whistleblowers are those individuals who report or disclose information about violations. The scope includes all individuals who have obtained information about violations in connection with their professional activity, in particular:

    • Employees (including employees whose employment relationship has already ended)
    • Trainees and apprentices
    • Interns and temporary workers
  • As reporting office representatives, Sandra Mau and Antje Friedrichsen are responsible for the whistleblower portal. They have the necessary expertise to process reports while maintaining the protection of the whistleblower.

    The reporting office representatives and any other case handlers of the reports are independent in the performance of their activities, are not bound by instructions, and are also subject to confidentiality – in particular with regard to personal information.

    1. The whistleblower accesses the reporting form via the link on the HGDF website and enters all the information available to them about the violation. The submitted reports are collected in a protected system to which only the reporting office representatives have access.
    2. The whistleblower is then asked to assign a password. This is used for subsequent contact by the case handlers. With this password and the case ID assigned by the system, the whistleblower can subsequently log in to a secure mailbox and communicate with the case handlers in a protected environment.
    3. The reporting office representatives will receive the reports and confirm receipt of the report to the whistleblower within seven days. The report is then checked for accuracy, and the facts of the case – generally without personal information – are forwarded to other responsible case handlers, if their support is required during the investigation. Once any queries have been reviewed and clarified, appropriate follow-up measures are initiated. Finally, the whistleblower is informed about the measures within three months. The whistleblower should therefore regularly log in to the mailbox with the login credentials and check whether there are any questions from the case handlers or for information on the process status.
    4. The report and all associated information must be deleted no later than three years after the report is closed. The deletion period can only be extended in exceptional cases, for example if the incident has been forwarded to an authority for processing.

    Important: The confidentiality of the whistleblower's identity is maintained throughout the process. At the same time, the identity of any affected individuals who are reported will also be treated confidentially.

    Note: Communication between the whistleblower and the case handler is very important for processing the report, as this is the only way to exchange queries and further information in a secure environment. If necessary and with the consent of the whistleblower, a personal meeting may also take place with the case handlers.

    Go to whistleblower portal

    • Follow-up measures include an internal investigation at the respective organisational unit and contact with the individuals and work units affected.
    • The whistleblower may be referred to another competent body.
    • The process may be closed in the absence of evidence or for other reasons.
    • For further investigation, the process may be submitted to a work unit responsible for internal investigations at HGDF or to a competent authority.
  • Whistleblowers enjoy liability privileges and are therefore not obliged to pay damages if the company suffers damages due to the tip-off. In addition, whistleblowers enjoy comprehensive protection, including:

    • All forms of punishment and retaliation ("reprisals") against the whistleblower are prohibited, including but not limited to the prohibition of suspension, termination, demotion or denial of promotion, salary reduction, coercion, intimidation, bullying and discrimination. Moreover, the non-renewal of fixed-term employment contracts, reputational harm or harm on social media, the withdrawal of a licence or approval, or negative performance appraisals are not permitted.
    • The Whistleblower Protection Act stipulates a reversal of the burden of proof in favour of the protected person. The employer must explain and, if necessary, prove the (other) reason for alleged discrimination, if the discrimination occurs after the report is submitted. However, the reversal of the burden of proof applies with the restriction that the whistleblower must take action themselves and assert that they have suffered discrimination as a result of the report.
    • Whistleblowers who face reprisals have access to legal remedies, such as legal assistance.

    Exception: No protection is afforded to whistleblowers in the event of a deliberate or grossly negligent false report. In such cases, the whistleblower is even obliged to pay compensation for the resulting damage.

  • In addition to the whistleblower portal of HGDF Familienholding GmbH & Co. KG, whistleblowers are also able to contact various external reporting offices.

    • With the exception of some explicitly stipulated exceptions, the central external reporting office is a body set up for this purpose at the Federal Office of Justice (BfJ) and is organisationally separate from the other areas of responsibility of the BfJ.
    • Moreover, there are reporting offices set up by the federal states that concern the state administration and the respective municipal administration.
    • The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and the Federal Cartel Office (BKartA) have also set up external reporting offices for certain violations under the purview of these authorities.

    The internal whistleblower portal offers the advantage of faster processing and resolution of the misconduct compared to external reporting offices, as the route via an external reporting office results in a time delay.

    Privileges (legal assistance, confidential treatment and protection against reprisals) are granted to the whistleblower regardless of the chosen reporting office.

  • If you have any questions about the system or the laws, please contact
    Sandra Mau (sandra.mau@hgdf.de, 0461-90929-51) or
    Antje Friedrichsen (antje.friedrichsen@hgdf.de, 0461-90929-32).

Downloads

HGDF Policy statement
55 KB — PDF

Download

Code of Conduct
72 KB — PDF

Download

Supplier Code of Conduct
107 KB — PDF

Download

Contact

Sandra Mau

Sandra Mau

HGDF Human Rights and Reporting Office Representative

+49 461 9092951

Antje Friedrichsen

Antje Friedrichsen

HGDF Human Rights and Reporting Office Representative

+49 461 9092932

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