In the last few years, corporate social responsibility has become a very important part of the behavior of firms striving to be successful and one of the important concepts of the OECD and the European Union in the area of business, consumer protection and the environment.
Thanks to its successful business model as a dealer with an extensive offering of used cars in the region of Central Europe, the AAA AUTO group has decided to adopt the principles of corporate social responsibility and to comply with those principles. In accordance with the strategy of social responsibility erected on the pillars of economic efficiency, responsibility for the environment and social involvement in the community where AAA AUTO is doing business, AAA AUTO is implementing these principles in its business behavior and planning.
At AAA AUTO, the concept of socially responsible behavior concentrates on following key areas:
The AAA AUTO group is pursuing a proactive policy in terms of joining in the activities of professional institutions and chambers of commerce. Taking into consideration the areas where it does business, the group has joined or is in the process of joining relevant chambers of commerce and professional associations. By cooperating with those organizations, the company will be supporting both its own business activities and dialog throughout society concerning the conditions for doing business in the country in question.
As a company of a size meeting the definition of a big business under European Union rules, in 2007 AAA AUTO joined the Czech Chamber of Commerce (HKČR), an important organization representing the interests of the business community in the Czech Republic. In 2008, AAA AUTO acceded to the new HKČR Code of Ethics. One of the new obligations under that code is for member companies to resolve any disputes with customers amicably out of court on the basis of the ARD project, created in cooperation with the HKČR, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, consumer associations, the Association of Mediators of the Czech Republic, and the Czech finance and justice ministries. In 2008 AAA AUTO group joined the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce and the Slovak-Czech Chamber of Commerce.
In view of its commercial activities that in the past have extended into several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, for several years now the AAA AUTO group has been a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic, through which it is attempting to involve itself in initiatives at the central and local government levels aimed at reforming the legal system and developing the economic environment.
Very important milestones in the historical development of the AAA AUTO group were its new listings on the Prague and Budapest securities exchanges in September 2007 through the parent company AAA Auto Group N.V. Its listings on the stock exchanges in two countries of Central Europe also mean greater pressure for maximum transparency of the services offered, maximum accessibility of information concerning investors and compliance with strict regulatory requirements of supervisory authorities, which also means required compliance with the principles of good corporate governance as defined in the new OECD rules (New Principles of Corporate Governance, 2004) and the Dutch Corporate Governance Code.
The AAA AUTO group and all of its employees are governed by the Code of Ethics ratified in April 2007 (full text available here).
To confirm that it is implementing a strategy for socially responsible behavior, AAA AUTO cooperates with organizations supporting and developing the concept of social responsibility in the Czech Republic and at the EU level.
As of 31 December 2011, the AAA AUTO group employed over 1 600 workers. As a young, dynamic company, it is adopting most of the progressive elements of modern personnel policy. The company stresses excellent training of its employees and their career growth and motivation. Since most employees at AAA AUTO are young people of various nationalities, equal emphasis is placed on the firm’s antidiscrimination policy.
Education, training and development constitute a very important part of the AAA AUTO group’s personnel strategy. This involves development of present employees and management as well as professional development of new workers.
The training and development department focuses its most important activities on the Sales and Customer Care Academy (AP), which offers training and educational activities for those interested in long-term studies. At the AAA AUTO group, attention is also paid to foreign language education, training in computer literacy and communication skills.
The AAA AUTO group offers its employees a broad range of benefits, and during the period of its existence the group has created a refined system of motivational rewards for workers in positions focused on development of products and services. At AAA AUTO, like at any dynamically, rapidly developing firm, opportunities for career growth and professional development are a matter of course.
Besides its business activities, the AAA AUTO group is also involved in other related activities and their support, and not just in the automotive field. An important part of community support is corporate sponsoring and support for non-profit organizations. However, the company greatly scaled back these activities in 2009 in order to cut costs. Nonetheless, we try to evaluate individually every request for a financial donation or to help the needy. For example, in Slovakia in the spring of 2010 we donated a car to a disabled mother with three young children through the TV channel Markíza.
In the past we have given financial donations to such charities as the Tereza Maxová Foundation, the Prague Zoo, the Na Bulovce Hospital and the Institute for the Care of Mother and Child.
The AAA AUTO group has been a long-time supporter of the Children’s Traffic Foundation. Its chief mission is providing financial support to orphaned children who have lost one or both parents in a traffic accident. The foundation also helps children who have suffered permanent injuries in a traffic accident. AAA AUTO gives the charity CZK 2 for every car sold. The company is also an important partner of the Children’s Fund of the Slovak Republic.
In the area of social support, the company also encourages its employees to get involved, for example by organizing employee charity collections for causes such as buying Christmas presents for children in orphanages and other charity projects.
Consumers Defense Association (SOS):
The Consumers Defense Association is one of the biggest Czech organizations defending consumers’ rights. The association’s activities involve both education and publication as well as consulting. The AAA AUTO group has established contact with the Consumers Defense Association and communicates with it on a regular basis in connection with its current activity in the used car sector, including proposals for improving its own procedures for resolving any disputes that may arise.
The AAA AUTO group is also working with the consumer association Spotřebitel.cz. Supervisors and other customer care division employees have participated at seminars held by this association focused on matters related to consumer protection and firms’ information disclosure obligations.
In 2006 the European Commission lifted the limits on used car imports to the Czech Republic that had been implemented by the Act on the Operation of Vehicles on Roads of 2001. The EC cited a violation of article 226 of the EC Treaty. Lifting the limits achieved the liberalization of this market segment. This legislative change in the Czech Republic came into effect on 1 July 2006. This step resulted in a massive increase of the unchecked importing of technically defective, unsafe and polluting used cars to the Czech Republic, not only harming the Czech automotive industry, but also in particular posing a threat to the environment and to highway safety.
Due to public pressure and alarming reports about the influx of used cars, the Czech Parliament revised waste legislation, so that fees in the amount of CZK 10,000, 5,000 and 3,000 depending on the level of polluting emissions (Euro 0, 1 and 2) were levied on the import of used cars from 1 January 2009. Among the consequences of this very necessary measure was a year-on-year decline of used passenger car imports to the Czech Republic by 37.2% to 152,930 vehicles.
At its facilities and branches in individual countries, the AAA AUTO group is striving for the most environmentally friendly approach possible. Parameters and internal procedural rules for handling waste and for waste management during vehicle servicing, as well as for the handling of hazardous substances and their recycling, have been comprehensively established.
At AAA AUTO, the concept of social responsibility is being newly developed and is becoming an important part of our strategic decision making and future commercial behavior as we build a modern, successful, professional and responsible firm.
Non-executive Member of the Management Board, AAA Auto Group N.V.