Involving stake­holders

As a protag­onist in the globalised economy and a benefi­ciary of the associated division of labour, Tchibo shares respon­si­bility for resolving challenges that arise from our business activ­ities. We believe that solutions to such global challenges are often better developed in cooper­ation with various societal protag­o­nists. A close, ongoing exchange with our stake­holders within and outside the company is therefore very important to us. We want to know our stake­holders’ expec­ta­tions and views, incor­porate their input into thefurther devel­opment of sustainable business processes, and work together on leading-edge solutions for ecological, social and societal challenges. So the dialogue with our stake­holders is also a stimulus for important processes of innovation – both in the company and at societal level. At the same time, the exchange with our stake­holders is important for identi­fying oppor­tu­nities and risks for Tchibo’s business at an early stage, and thus to enable proactive action.

The exchange with our stake­holders is one of dialogue between partners and appro­priate activ­ities to involve them. Our core objective of becoming a 100% sustainable business repre­sents conti­nuity in an ongoing devel­opment process that takes into account key stake­holders and their expec­ta­tions, as well as regularly updates the prior­ities and key topics and measures. Our goal in involving stake­holders is not to meet all their expec­ta­tions as quickly as possible, but rather to look into these expec­ta­tions and set prior­ities. It is also clear that not all of the expec­ta­tions placed in us can feasibly be met.

Systematic stake­holder management

Involving stake­holders, identi­fying relevant topics together, and responding with appro­priate measures – this approach corre­sponds to the principles of account­ability inclu­sivity, materi­ality and respon­siveness codified in the Account­Ability standard 1000 (AA1000). Since 2012, our stake­holder management has been based on a management system that was developed and rolled-out in accor­dance with the AA1000 standard.


Relevant stake­holders are involved in formats that are chosen to precisely match the topic and occasion. They include surveys, dialogue events, or cooper­ation in initia­tives and alliances such as the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in Germany.


We have mapped the relevance of the topics for stake­holders and for Tchibo in a materi­ality matrix. The material topics are derived from this matrix, and are updated and adjusted as needed in the course of our ongoing stake­holder involvement.

Sustainability management
Coffee supply chain
Consumer goods supply chain
Environmental protection

To analyse the material fields of action, we have conducted a compre­hensive stake­holder survey in 2012. We identified more than 1,200 stake­holders and grouped them into customers, employees, suppliers and business partners, non-govern­mental organ­i­sa­tions, government agencies, trade unions, consumer protection organ­i­sa­tions, science & academe, banks and insurance companies, and the media. We invited 430 of the 1,200 stake­holders to complete an anonymous online survey. The partic­i­pating insti­tu­tions were selected based on their relevance as Tchibo stake­holders and the extent to which they influence the company. It was important to us that we select stake­holders with whom we can make a difference. We surveyed the relevance they ascribed to 34 topics at Tchibo, and how far they felt Tchibo had come on these topics, for seven fields of action. They also had the option of adding their own expec­ta­tions and sugges­tions.

We followed this up with quali­tative telephone inter­views with external sustain­ability experts on individual fields of action, and asked employees from various disci­plines to assess their relevance. On this basis, we priori­tised the topics for our sustain­ability management. Besides their relevance, we also looked at how, for example, topics can be influ­enced by critical groups. From these two aspects, we derived a value for ‘stake­holder attention’. The focus topics arrived at in this way have guided us ever since in devel­oping specific targets and measures on our way to becoming a 100% sustainable business.


The key topics from the materi­ality matrix are incor­po­rated in the company’s strategy devel­opment. They are put into action and evaluated, e.g. in the area of ​​environ­mental protection or respon­sible business practices, always involving the relevant stake­holders depending on the topic or occasion.

Alongside stake­holder management, issues management is of great impor­tance in Tchibo’s materi­ality process. It serves as a ‘topic radar’ to recognise, analyse and evaluate social trends and current devel­op­ments at an early stage. This proactive issues management process enables us to identify potential risks and minimise them through preventive measures. On the other hand, we can derive oppor­tu­nities for our sustainable focus and Tchibo’s brand positioning from topical issues. In this respect, issues management has a direct influence on strategy planning and the priori­ti­sation of topics. As a result, it also provides important support in the materi­ality process.

Asked for by stake­holders: reviewing action areas

As part of our sustain­ability management, in 2006 we deter­mined the topics and fields of action that – from our perspective and based on our experience – are key to our path of sustain­ability. To review which fields of action are most important to the various stake­holders, and how they rate Tchibo’s state of devel­opment [in those areas], we carried out an extensive stake­holder survey in 2012. The findings show that stake­holders confirmed the relevance of the fields of action we had defined in 2006. They, too, see the coffee and consumer goods value chains as the most important action areas. Key topics here include the socially respon­sible and resource-conserving production of consumer goods, and the improvement of the economic and social situation of the coffee growers, who are usually small farmers.

Major political and social devel­op­ments in 2016 prove that our focus topics remain very relevant, or have become even more so. All in all, in 2016 we note that the conflict area between legal obligation and voluntary commitment of business is receiving a lot more attention in the public discourse – driven by environ­mental and social problems that are still nowhere near resolved and becoming increas­ingly urgent, especially in the global production and trade struc­tures. This was the reason for making this area of conflict the topic of our stake­holder workshop in November 2016. “Fair compe­tition requires (at least European) rules” seems to be acceptable as the lowest common denom­i­nator of all societal stake­holders.