The Wittenberg Process

In 2007, The German Federation of Chemical Employer's Associations (BAVC) and the German Trade Union for Mining, Chemical and Energy Industries (IG BCE) started the “Wittenberg Process for the Social Partners in the Chemical Industry” with the support of the WCGE.

For both parties, the BAVC & the IG BCE, the process was about firming up the foundation of their cooperation, away from the pressures and routines of daily business. How can the model of the social market economy, which has proven to be so successful, be maintained and developed in the face of globalization? How can the responsibility of corporations and the social partners be better organized based on shared principles and rules of the game?

As a first step, the social partners developed a commonly shared position on the topics of 1) Social market economy, 2) Responsible Care, 3) Good labour conditions, 4) Global fairness and 5) Human capital in a series of 5 workshops. On this basis, a binding code of ethics could be developed which was signed by both organization in the presence of the then Federal President, Horst Köhler. The president declared the Wittenberg Process a shining example of cooperation and expressed his wish that other actors in the economy follow suit with further, comparable initiatives.

Over the years, workshops have regularly been held with stakeholders in the chemical industry to deal with issues of pressing relevance. In addition, the Chemistry Foundation Social Partners Academy (CSSA) was founded as a further education institution for both the employers and the unions in the industry. The topic of business ethics and the implementation thereof in business practice always played a role in this context.

The Wittenberg Process for the Social Partners in the Chemical Industry is also important for the WCGE approach to business ethics. It makes our insights and consultancy tangible. It shows that debates about ethics and values in business can translate into substantial actions. Given the widespread mistrust of globalization and economic competition in society, the value of investments in trust can hardly be underestimated.

Meanwhile, the WCGE continues to play an advisory role in the industry initiative “Chemie³” and provides critical impulses to the dialogue. In May 2013, the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), BCE and BAVC started a process with the goal of systematically implementing exemplary sustainability practices throughout the entire chemical industry and thereby, to significantly enhance the contribution which the industry makes to sustainable development. The partners have set very ambitious goals that they wish to achieve via the Chemie³ initiative.