The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

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Case study: How the BMW Group trains employees, fostering their talents

Currently active in more than 150 countries, employing almost 130,000 people, the BMW Group actively promotes long-term employee development by seeking out the right employees, making the most of their individual talents and developing their potential, thereby laying the groundwork for future success.

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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In today’s dynamic and fast-changing working world, life-long learning is increasingly gaining in importance. Accordingly, the BMW Group invests, on an ongoing basis, in training its employees and developing their talents  Tweet This!, making sure employees have the skills needed to keep pace with future challenges. In order to train employees, fostering their talents, the BMW Group took action to:

  • build digital skills
  • develop leadership skills

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, prevention of corruption and anti-competitive behaviour, occupational health and safety, environmental and social standards in the supply chain / sustainable sourcing, human rights. Among these, training employees, fostering their talents, 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 carried out telephone interviews with 13 representative stakeholders. Customers, suppliers, investors, authorities, NGOs and scientists were among the stakeholders interviewed.

What actions were taken by the BMW Group to train employees, fostering their talents?

In its 2017 Sustainable Value Report the BMW Group reports that it took the following actions for training employees, fostering their talents:

  • Building digital skills
  • The BMW Group is developing new, digitally networked automobiles that will soon be able to drive completely autonomously. These changes will inevitably affect the way its employees work and the skills they must master. This is why the BMW Group tries to equip existing employees with the expertise they need to keep up with future developments, and to recruit new “digital talents”. The BMW Group already takes into account these new challenges, in its vocational training. For example, BMWAG launched a training programme for IT specialists in 2018 and various training courses that combined information technology with other relevant fields. New skills were already incorporated into existing vocational training programmes in 2017, to equip trainees for the future. At its production sites in China, the USA, South Africa and the UK as well as in Brazil, Thailand and Mexico, the BMW Group continues to rely on the dual system of vocational education and training for young people. In China and Mexico, the BMW Group added the occupation of automotive mechatronics technician to the training portfolio, and increased the number of trainees in the UK and Mexico.
  • Developing leadership skills
  • Through its Group-wide “Corporate Leadership Programme” the BMW Group provides managers with a wide range of advanced training opportunities. The further development of leadership skills is geared toward transforming the enterprise in accordance with the corporate Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT. The BMW Group aims to develop executives who display personal initiative, while also working well with others to successfully lead teams and build networks. They can, then, act as role models and drivers for the company’s digital and cultural transformation. In 2017, these efforts focused on the initiative “Next Experience”: between January and April 2017, almost 13,000 executives took part in a one-day event involving four workshops and an introduction to the new corporate Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT. To foster international young talent, the BMW Group also developed the “Global Leader Development Programme”. The programme includes various practical phases in Germany and abroad, targeted training measures and diverse networking and exchange opportunities. Special emphasis is placed on developing intercultural competence.

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

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee

2) Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs


Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee corresponds to:

Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Employee training and education


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:


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