Corporate Social Responsibility

zeb takes its responsibility seriously

For us, corporate social responsibility (CSR) means accepting and taking responsibility for our clients and employees, for society and the environment. 

Our three values closeness, specialism and future viability serve as our guidelines. They shape our zeb culture, our professional and responsible actions and thus also our interaction with clients and business partners.

In our Code of Conduct, we have described the principles of sustainable behavior in a binding manner for all employees at zeb. It serves as the foundation for the four fields of action of our CSR program: market, employees, society and environment. In each field of action there are concrete goals and actions which we measure, review, develop further and publish in our annual sustainability report. 

We have our reports regularly reviewed externally by the CSR certification organization EcoVadis. In 2017 we were awarded “Gold”, which means that we rank among the five percent of companies with the highest ratings in Germany. The assessment is carried out in the four topic areas of environment, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement. For our application for the next EcoVadis seal, we documented in detail our areas of action and concrete implementation steps for each of these topics. For example, we defined our internal process for fighting corruption, described the networks we have initiated to promote and develop women in consulting and explained the background to our cooperation with a mentoring program to combat youth unemployment in Germany.

The detailed and concrete documentation, measurement and further development of our projects teaches us to accept and live up to our responsibility even better. And that, in a nutshell, is our ambition.

zeb has been a member of the United Nations' Global Compact since 2015. zeb thus supports the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and is committed to sustainable business practices. You can download the report directly here

Read more on the growing importance of CSR in our interview with Marcel Engel, Executive Director of the German Global Compact Network (DGCN).

Employees in focus

Our business is a “people business”: The motivation, commitment and qualification of our employees play a vital role in the consistent provision of high-quality services.

At the same time, they are one of the most important stakeholder groups and shape our corporate culture. As a responsible employer, zeb ensures fair and transparent remuneration and promotion processes. We believe that good performance and commitment should be rewarded accordingly. For this reason, our employees can be nominated twice a year for the next career step. 

The fulfillment of precisely defined criteria is a prerequisite for promotion: a neutral, objective evaluation committee makes the decisions. All promotions are based on the principle that zeb staff members who achieve the criteria for the next career level in their evaluation are also promoted to this level. We make these processes transparent via our social Intranet and internally announce all promotions there. 

zeb offers safe and healthy workplaces
In order to offer employees a safe workplace, we are involved in a regular project-based exchange with the occupational health and safety committee which develops and implements measures for maintaining the physical and mental health of our employees, e.g.:

•    stress prevention: zeb conducts training courses on stress reduction as well as on time- and self-management and offers management training courses on “healthy leadership” and “mindfulness in leadership”.
•    zeb.life: with the introduction of an ““Employee Assistance Program”, zeb provides life situation coaching that is accessible via a 24/7 hotline on an anonymous basis. In our “working parents” initiative, parents get involved, exchange experiences and formulate their needs for our management team.
•    zeb.wellfit: In order to support consultants working on client premises even better in maintaining their health, zeb has introduced company-wide health days and individual preventive measures as part of corporate health management.

Moreover, as a European company we strive for staff diversity: for example, we have resolved to increase the share of female consultants to 25% by 2023. zeb also supports the German “Diversity Charter” initiative which aims at advancing the recognition, appreciation and inclusion of diversity in German corporate cultures.

Read an interview with Birgit Mentzen, Head of Personnel Development at zeb, about our leadership culture.

For us, our contribution to society means education, education, education

The aim of promoting education and training is at the heart of our social responsibility efforts. This is why we train young people in commercial professions and offer vocational training as part of the integrated degree program in Business Informatics. Moreover, we support student and university organizations as well as academic chairs with cooperations and donations and are involved in research and teaching through the zeb.business school. In 2019, we again succeeded in meeting our self-defined goal of more than 30 courses with students; 34 courses took place. 

Corporate volunteering is also an important part of our CSR activities, which are aimed at children and young people. Over several years, the “My Finance Coach” initiative was a cooperation partner of zeb. More than 55 zeb consultants were involved and provided primary and secondary schools with basic knowledge on economic and financial affairs. However, since My Finance Coach ceased operations on April 12, 2019, we entered into a new cooperation with JOBLINGE and are thus continuing our long-standing commitment to education and training. 

JOBLINGE is the most successful initiative against youth unemployment in Germany. Seven out of ten Joblings start their an apprenticeship after participating in the program. Important success factors in this context, in addition to the involvement of many companies as providers of opportunities, are the volunteer mentors. As a partner company of JOBLINGE, we offer our colleagues the opportunity to participate in the mentoring program. Mentors listen, coach, support and assist the young people in the program with good advice. For six months, they are involved in the program for up to two hours per week. They are prepared for their tasks with a special training course.

Read an interview with two of our zeb colleagues, Dr. Alexander Stolz und Dr. Niklas Blümke, about their personal experiences here

Our market comprises "financial services" in all facets

Our clients perceive us as trustworthy experts in the financial services industry. This trust is based on in-depth expertise, appeal and security. 

In this context, CSR management focuses on security and supports processes related to confidential handling of client information, data protection and anti-corruption. In addition, as an honest and cooperative market player, we stand for fair competition and do not tolerate any violations of legal provisions. We also require the same responsible and rule-compliant behavior from our service providers. In 2019, 79 percent of suppliers had already committed themselves to zeb’s Code of Conduct.

As an additional anti-corruption measure, zeb set up a corruption reporting office in 2018 and encouraged all employees to report any indications of corruption via this channel. The office is managed by an external service provider. Reports can be made anonymously in order to provide whistleblowers with maximum protection. The external service provider assesses criticality as well as options for action and escalates cases to the Chief CSR Officer, if required. No reports have yet been received during the reporting period. 

In addition, zeb has defined clear rules regarding the acceptance of gifts on the part of clients and suppliers and communicated these to all zeb companies as part of the zeb Travel Expense and Events Policy.

Respectful treatment of our environment

Our business operations in the consulting industry require the use of energy and natural resources. zeb has set itself the target of actively minimizing the negative effects and, wherever possible, to initiate measures to avoid them altogether. 

We continuously strive to improve our ecological efficiency through various steps: economical and ecologically reasonable use of energy, water and paper; green IT and the use of renewable energies; the use of e-Mobility or even the increasing replacement of business trips by audio and video conferences. 

The “lockdown” in 2020 proved how well we were already prepared for the latter. Even though our business model had previously been based on our employees traveling to clients, we were able – at least temporarily – to perform this work remotely without any friction. We believe that this change will continue to have an effect after the end of the coronavirus crisis, helping to reduce our ecological footprint even further. 

zeb has set itself the goal to reduce the consumption of paper in the company and thus to protect the environment in addition to the sustainable purchase of paper from responsibly managed forests (FSC certification). Due to various measures, such as the digitization of invoicing wherever possible, the consumption of paper is continuously decreasing despite corporate growth. As an important success factor, the complete digitization of our employees’ travel expense accounting should be mentioned in this context. Across the entire company, physical or paper receipts are no longer required for reporting travel expenses. Thus, the dispatch of invoices and receipts by mail has also been eliminated.

Additionally, we have started to digitize invoicing wherever legally possible in order to further reduce the consumption of paper. As far as possible, we also avoid sending paper documents by mail. Finally, supplier invoices have also been processed digitally since the beginning of 2020. This has enabled us to reduce paper consumption by almost 20 percent or more than 1,800 kg between 2018 and 2019.

At the start of 2016, the electricity supply was switched to 100 percent green electricity from renewable power sources for all German offices in the zeb group. We were awarded the green electricity certificate by Stadtwerke Münster.