Many - especially larger - German companies have set up their own CSR/sustainability departments in recent years. Thus, especially at large companies, more and more employees are working directly in the CSR/sustainability area. However, many small and medium-sized companies have also taken measures in the area of CSR in recent years. As part of their CSR/sustainability strategy, many companies have also taken concrete measures to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Social commitment is an integral part of the established German corporate culture. German companies make an annual commitment of €11.2 billion in the social sector alone. In addition, a large number of initiatives exist at international and national level to promote the ideas of CSR and sustainability, such as the UN Global Compact Network and German Global Compact Network, the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles, Together for Sustainability (TfS), Chemie³, Bettercoal, etc..
Many large German companies have direct suppliers (tier-1) in the high five-digit range. Some corporations have over 100,000 direct suppliers. The supplier tiers before that can cover millions of companies. Germany imported goods from abroad worth 1,089.8 billion euros in 2018, about 3 billion euros per day.
To minimize liability risks, companies would be forced to shorten supply chains and withdraw from regions with problematic human rights situations and cease business activities ("cut and run" instead of the required "stay and improve"). Global trade would be damaged and many employees in developing and emerging countries would lose their jobs and SMEs from these countries would be denied access to global supply chains (cf. study Economic Evaluation of a Supply Chain Act, Kiel Institute for the World Economy).
It should be noted that almost 2 out of 3 workers (62%) worldwide are employed in the informal sector. Internationally recognized human rights also include the principles relating to fundamental rights in the 8 ILO core labor standards. Of 187 ILO countries, 41 have not ratified all 8 ILO core labor standards, including major industrialized nations.
The introduction of an unrealistic supply chain liability would also thwart the efforts of the German government itself to attract companies to engage and invest in Africa. Such engagement is not possible for companies if they have to take on incalculable legal risks in the process. The Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft e.V. states (PM, March 26, 2019): "A rigid legal regime for human rights due diligence can lead to a withdrawal of German companies from challenging markets on the African continent and jeopardizes investments and business activities in African countries." Positive action on the ground in developing and emerging countries is important, as 80% of workers are not even reached through global supply chains.