The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Home / case studies / Case study: How the BMW Group promotes work-life balance among employees

Case study: How the BMW Group promotes work-life balance among employees

As a company that is currently active in over 150 countries with almost 130,000 employees, the BMW Group understands that the working hours that function best for employees vary depending on what phase of life they are in, their individual life plans and their work situation, and seeks, accordingly, to offer employees the best possible work-life balance.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainable Value Report by the BMW Group published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Encouraging work-life balance, the BMW Group offers its employees a wide range of flexible modules  Tweet This!, so they can tailor their working hours and locations to their personal needs. In order to promote work-life balance among employees the BMW Group took action to:
  • offer flexible working hours
  • enable mobile working
  • support employees through family services

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainable Value Report the BMW Group identified a range of material issues, such as fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions of vehicles, product safety, environmental and social standards in the supply chain / sustainable sourcing, occupational health and safety, pollutant emissions of vehicles. Among these, promoting work-life balance among employees stands out as a key material issue for the BMW Group.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups the BMW Group engages with:  

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Capital market


·      Dialogue, conferences and technology workshops with investors and analysts on the strategic topics of electromobility and autonomous driving
Suppliers ·      Dialogue in the context of industry initiatives

·      Joint events

·      Training courses

·      Presentations

·      Supplier risk assessments

·      Learning from Suppliers forum

Networks and associations


·      Participation of Board members, technical experts or subject specialists in a number of initiatives, forums and events

·      Memberships of initiatives



·      Workshops on key topics

·      Regular “Green Tables” with German parliamentarians



·      Round tables

·      Visits from universities

·      Lectures

·      Discussions

·      BMW Group Dialogue with students

Media ·      Dialogue within the context of press trips

·      Press releases

·      Informational events on new products

·      Test drives

·      Trade fairs

Business partners ·      Dialogue with sales organisations and the association of German BMW dealerships

·      Business conferences

·      Dialogue via the central coordinating units of importers

Local stakeholders ·      One-on-one dialogue

·      Plant visits

·      Neighbourhood dialogue

·      Press events

Civil society and NGOs ·      Face-to-face meetings/dialogue

·      Responding to enquiries

Employees ·      Dialogue with employees and managers

·      Employee survey

·      Idea management

·      Internal media

Customers ·      Customer survey

·      Social media

·      Trade fairs

·      Media

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics the BMW Group conducted telephone interviews with 13 representative stakeholders, who included customers, suppliers, investors, authorities, NGOs and scientists from different regions of the world.

What actions were taken by the BMW Group to promote work-life balance among employees?

In its 2017 Sustainable Value Report the BMW Group reports that it took the following actions for promoting work-life balance among employees:

  • Offering flexible working hours
  • Through the concept of the working time account, BMW Group employees can exert some influence over their working hours. Office employees can take advantage of flexitime, for example, or production staff can trade shifts or reduce their hours to gain some free days. In addition to statutory working time arrangements in some countries, such as part-time work or parental or caregiver leave, the BMW Group also offers employees options such as sabbaticals or the “Vollzeit Select” (Full-time Select) scheme, to provide further attractive ways for employees to individually plan working hours. Sabbaticals can be arranged by employees worldwide, and the BMW Group’s “Vollzeit Select” working time tool allows employees in Germany and Austria to take 20 additional days of leave each year with corresponding adjustments to their salaries, without any complicated red tape. Demand for these options continued to increase in 2017, showing that the offer of flexible working time arrangements met a real need.
  • Enabling mobile working
  • In 2017, more than 31,700 BMW Group employees, or approximately 63% of those working outside the direct production areas, chose to work at least one partial and/or full day on a mobile basis. This represents a renewed increase, compared to 2016. By organising their working hours more flexibly, employees can, for example, better integrate childcare or caring for dependents into their everyday work routine. Outside of agreed working hours, employees have the right to switch off and be unavailable. Mobile working at the BMW Group, signifies a culture of trust, and relies on constructive dialogue.
  • Supporting employees through family services
  • The BMW Group has, for years, been offering its employees family support services. In Germany, for example, experts from the family support service help employees organise childcare and care for dependents as well as arrange household services. In 2017, the BMW Group responded to 830 employee requests of this nature, 160 of them dealing with the issue of care. Additionally, the BMW Group has set up childcare services at many of its German locations and, with the support of parents’ initiatives, was able to accommodate, in 2017, more than 460 children aged zero to six years.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 401-3 Parental leave

Disclosure 401-3 Parental leave corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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1) This case study is based on published information by the BMW Group, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


Note to the BMW Group: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.