Not yet a member? Register for free and unlock instant discounts with our a&o Club membership

Become a member now - for free!
  • Receive up to 20% discount on bookings
  • Get priority access to our Secret Deals
  • Earn free Early Check-in and free Late Check-out
  • Receive up to 25% discount on bookings

a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy

Sustainability is for a&o a central pillar of our corporate business strategy in offering affordable and attractive accommodation in central locations across Europe. The commitment in our vision “By 2025, we at a&o will be Europe’s first net-zero CO2-emission hostel chain“, is a very important but just one pillar, of a comprehensive sustainability strategy we are currently implementing.

With the hereby presented “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy” we add another important mosaic stone to our overall sustainability approach. By formulating what is important to a&o in our purchasing decisions, when it comes to social responsibility, environmental protection and responsible business conduct, we are making our suppliers a partner on that ongoing journey. We might not be the biggest player, compared to multinational hotel chains. Nevertheless, we trust in our suppliers sharing the same sustainability ambitions. Therefore our Board has mandated a&o procurement to integrate sustainability considerations in their decision making.

In formulating the “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy” we refer to applicable law and internationally accepted requirements pertaining to human rights, environmental protection and responsible business conduct. They have been matched with “potentially” adverse effects in operating a hostel while considering the consumption or use of materials and products originating in global supply chains.

This means in fact, that the “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy” applies to both a&o procurement staff and all our product suppliers and service providers alike. It defines minimum requirements (musts) and further expectations, which any a responsible company should thrive for.

Therefore, let us work together – a&o with you as our suppliers of services and products – in making our business more and more socially and environmentally responsible!

1. Our a&o responsible sourcing policies - background

At a&o we are doing our business with great passion as we are convinced, that budget conscious traveling has great benefits. Travelling educates, creates intercultural understanding, helps understanding global interrelations etc. And by hosting many school classes and young travelers, a&o also reaches the youth, the next generation – particularly those, for whom we all want to preserve a socially and environmentally intact planet.

Next to all the benefits associated with traveling and meeting our guests demands, we are aware that our investment and purchasing decisions have both positive and potentially negative impacts on society and the environment. This may be through the hostels we buy, build or operate, through the subcontracting of laundry, housekeeping and maintenance services or through the procurement of food, beverages or other materials with potentially critical supply chains.

Therefore, a&o is committed to drive social and environmental positive change for responsible travel and tourism also through our sourcing practices. Procurement managers together with our suppliers must make a difference by providing and procuring responsible options in a joint effort.

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy” is to describe our framework for procurement decisions, which take sustainability into account. It provides clarity on which considerations we base our decisions on and what are our expectations towards all parties involved. It also signals to our guests where our products come from, how they are made and that sustainability has been an underlying principle in their selection.

In doing so, a&o seeks with its suppliers a trustful, cooperative, partnership-based and long-term cooperation, which is both favorable for all sides and at the same time considers sustainability as a permanent underlying principle. Therefore a&o procurement staff sources with care by considering the preservation of natural resources and conducting business in a socially responsible manner.

By giving sustainability a high priority in our purchasing decisions when sourcing services, materials and products, we are convinced that we contribute to a more sustainable society.

1.2 Target Group - a&o Staff and Suppliers

The “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy” addresses both internal staff and external suppliers, who should be aware of our sustainability expectations, when doing business with us. It applies in particular to tier 1 suppliers, having a direct commercial relationship with us. This compromises any company, corporation or other entity (including subsidiaries and affiliates) that sells or seeks to sell goods or services to a&o, any a&o corporate entity, and any leased or managed a&o property.

It is highly recommended to the target group companies, to communicate these requirements (as part of their own way of doing business) to their employees and their own suppliers and to ensure compliance within their sphere of influence.

1.3 Supplier's Management System and Standards

It is our understanding at a&o, that each company is accountable for a socially and environmentally responsible business conduct. And we also believe, that a company must hold its suppliers and subcontractors accountable the same way.

Therefore, suppliers should have their own systems and policies in place (suitable for their own business model) in order to comply with legal requirements or the fundamental underlying principles of international standards (such as from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or likewise) and this a&o policy.

Beyond an appropriate management system, the fulfillment of standards may support the provision of sustainable products and services. Therefore, suppliers are encouraged to align their operations with suitable and credible standards and inform a&o about certifications (such as Blauer Engel or OEKOTex).

1.4 Rights of a&o and Consequences of Non-Compliance with this Policy

Despite this supplier’s primary responsibility, a&o reserves the right, to conduct unannounced assessments or inspections of suppliers and their facilities. This can also be done by independent third parties. Violations of those requirements may lead to a range of actions, including the termination of the business relationship with the supplier.

As a matter of principle, a&o supports the approach of “healing the grievance before withdrawal”. This means, that in case of any violation of requirements outlined in this policy, a&o seeks to find a solution with our supplier first. The termination of the relationship is the last option, if no solution of the problem can be found.

2. General policies: a&o commitments and requirements for suppliers

At a&o, we pursue a holistic approach when it comes to sustainability – including social responsibility, environmental protection, animal welfare and responsible business conduct.

Therefore, this policy documents a&o’s sustainability commitment in operating our hostels. Based on that, our minimum expectations (must) as well as our expectations (should) be met by our suppliers. More detailed provisions and specific contract award conditions may be set out in further contractual terms (including the a&o terms and conditions).

With this ambition set, we expect and require that our suppliers support us in our effort. They shall upon request provide sufficient evidence that they have a similar aspiration in conducting their business operations in line and compliance with requirements outlined in the following.

2.1 Social Responsibility

a&o strives for responsible employment, fair working conditions and the respect for human rights, particularly in line with the International Bill of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the ILO Core Labor Standards.

Therefore, these fundamental elements and principles must be also applied equally in our supply chains. They are aimed at preventing and minimizing adverse effects on human rights worldwide and ending these effects wherever possible. Furthermore, they must contribute to fair working conditions along the supply chain. For human rights and fair working conditions, we expect our suppliers to observe best practices and continuously work toward their realization.

2.1.1 Human Rights

a&o is committed to protect human rights as the foundation for each and every person’s dignity. Respecting human rights in a&o’s own operations and business relationships is the basis of our social responsibility. We value people and treat them with respect. On that basis, “potential” human rights risks in operating a hostel may occur for example when procuring services, food and beverages, products, garments, textiles or other products. a&o addresses them pro-actively in risk-based due diligence process.

Therefore, for any services and products procured by a&o with potential adverse effects on human rights, suppliers are obliged to meet as a minimum the requirements outlined in the “UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” (based on their size and capacity) as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (including further laws and guidelines based on them) – in particular the following.

Human Rights Due Diligence
With reference to the a&o human rights commitment, also our supplier’s due diligence system must contain the following core elements:

  1. Policy on Due Diligence Obligations in the Supply Chain: Declaration and communication of a corporate commitment to respecting human rights at the company and in the supply chain
  2. Procedure to identify potential and actual adverse effects on human rights along the supply chain – including measures to mitigate identified existing adverse effects.
  3. Public communication on the due diligence process, its results and mitigation measures for identified adverse human rights effects the supply chain.
  4. Establishment of easily accessible complaints channels (internal and external) for employees, subcontractors, those affected and the public to report potential misconduct.

Upon a&o’s request, the supplier must present his efforts on above-mentioned requirements.

Prohibition of Child Labor

With reference to the a&o human rights commitment, also suppliers must ensure (e.g., with a policy and respective measures) that child labor is not tolerated within their operations and their supply chain. Therefore, the age check of employees and compliance with respective ILO-conventions is an absolute minimum.1 In case of an identified breach, further efforts by the supplier are expected to not only terminate the employment of minors, but to care for their well-being and ensure their children’s rights (e.g., together with other suppliers of industry associations).

Prohibition on Modern Slavery and Forced Labor

With reference to the a&o human rights commitment, also suppliers must at a minimum ensure that all employees are working on their own will and that they are free to terminate their employment giving appropriate notice.2 They must prohibit all forms of forced labor, including compulsory labor, debt bondage, human trafficking and any other form of modern slavery. Therefore, appropriate and standardized hiring practices for the company and third parties (like recruiters) should be established. In addition, collective action with other suppliers or industry associations supports the avoidance of modern slavery and to protect workers’ rights and therefore is recommended.

Protection of Local and Indigenous Communities

With reference to the a&o human rights commitment, suppliers must respect the rights of indigenous people with their cultural heritage and local communities by not causing negative effects on their health, safety and living conditions. This is particularly the case in unlawful and forced relocation or involuntary resettlement – for example due to the exploitation of natural resources.3 A thorough and early-on analysis and stakeholder dialogue on potentially negative effects should contribute to the protection of indigenous people and communities.

Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunities

With reference to the a&o human rights commitment, suppliers must ensure, that all employees are treated with respect and dignity and that equal pay for work of equal value is ensured regardless of gender4. Also a must is ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace and prohibiting all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, origin, religion, skin color, disability, union membership, political affiliation, age, pregnancy or sexual orientation and other personality characteristics. To protect those being affected, this commitment must be clearly stated and established processes must be in place to stop violations against this requirement. Generally, suppliers should thrive for supporting their employees in their individual life situation, e.g., granting maternity leave or creating a flexible working environment.

2.1.2 Labor

a&o is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for its employees and fair working conditions.

Health and Safety in the Workplace

With reference to the a&o commitment on labor, also suppliers must protect their employees against work-related hazards (outlined in a health and safety policy), caused by accidents, hazardous substances and excessive physical and mental stress. This implies particularly providing sufficient information and the tools, materials and protective equipment to do their work safely. This also must be ensured in the supply chain of the supplier. Regular inspections and audits5 should support targets reducing accidents, deaths and days lost. In addition, health and safety trainings for employees and access to healthcare services should be possible.

Fair Working Conditions

With reference to the a&o commitment on labor, also suppliers must ensure appropriate working hours6 and remuneration of their employees. The minimum reference for working hours and the minimum wage is the applicable law and for the latter also the consideration of local cost of living and social security benefits in the respective country. Wages and salaries must be paid in full for services rendered and may not be unlawfully withheld.

Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining

With reference to ILO Conventions and the a&o commitment based on them, suppliers must respect the freedom of association for their employees and acknowledge their right to collective bargaining without interference, discrimination, reprisal or harassment.7 This is also the case for respecting their employees’ right to associate, to join a union, to appoint representatives and to be elected for union roles. If both employees’ rights should interfere with local law, alternative means should be found and implemented.

Protection of Human Rights Defenders

If a supplier is getting aware of any intimidation, threats, defamation or criminalization of human rights defenders, they must speak-up, work to protect them and engage in a constructive dialogue with them.

2.1.3 Raw Materials from Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRAS)

a&o is particularly attentive, when procured goods contain raw materials, which might be organed from conflicted and high-risk areas.

Therefore, universally recognized human rights must be respected by all suppliers with support of an effective due diligence procedures – particularly, when raw-materials are provided, processed in the supply chain or used in their products, that originate from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (such as the 3TGs - tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold). Beyond legally outlined disclosures suppliers should work with their upstream partners to assess and address their human rights risks for those materials.

2.2 Environmental Protection

At a&o we take active steps at all of our hostels, helping local management minimizing their environmental impact and working hand-in-hand with local suppliers to make a difference on issues of climate change, resource preservation, water scarcity, energy consumption, harmful noise and odor emissions, waste management, biodiversity or the protection of soil and forests.

Therefore, also our suppliers must contribute to environmental protection. Suppliers must ensure that all materials, substances and prefabricated products used in their production comply with the applicable legal and environmental standards. They must systematically identify environmental risks for their own production and their upstream supply chain and take suitable precautionary measures to prevent or, in cases where this is demonstrably impossible, minimize any environmental damage.

To support this ambition, suppliers should set-up a systematic environmental management system – including policies and procedures. We expect suppliers to go above and beyond the local statutory requirements where necessary. They should report publicly on their targets and approaches for reducing and preventing environmental damage and publish information on the corresponding commitments, challenges and progress made. Certificates on the fulfillment of specific standards (such as ISO 14001 or EMAS) may support those measures.

Suppliers must, upon a&o’s request, provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate business operations are in compliance with all of the following requirements.

2.2.1 Climate Protection

a&o has set itself the goal to be the first European hostel chain to be CO2-net zero by 2025. Net zero means reducing our own ecological footprint to a minimum and offsetting the rest.

Therefore, and to also contribute to that target, suppliers also must develop ambitious reduction goals – in the short term at least for their scope 1 and 2 emissions and in complex supply chains in the mid-term also for scope 3 emissions. The overall medium-term perspective is the provision of net zero products to a&o – meaning that suppliers must follow the approach of prevention, reduction and only for unavoidable emissions their offsetting or neutralization – both at their company and their supply chain.

Upon a&o’s request, suppliers must provide the product-related CO2-footprint for the procured goods as to support our net-zero 2025 target.

2.2.2 Energy Efficiency

a&o’s target of reaching CO2-net-zero by 2025 for the operations of our hostels, is strongly influenced by increasing energy efficiency in the use of electricity, heating etc. Therefore, the increase of energy efficiency is on top of our sustainability agenda – supported by the installation of technical measures in our hostels and awareness raising initiatives for our guests.

Therefore, also suppliers must minimize energy consumption of provided goods and also should establish a system for optimizing energy efficiency in their production (wherever possible with the use of renewable energy sources). The implementation of respective standards (e.g., ISO 50001) might support those efforts. In a&o tenders for goods, suppliers should highlight particularly, when their offered products are highly energy-efficient in the use-phase. Positive contributions to energy efficiency in the mid- and long-term use of a product will be considered in the procurement decision.

2.2.3 Resource Preservation

a&o is supporting a circular economy approach in the use of natural resources and procured goods.

Therefore, also suppliers must use natural resources, such as water, raw materials or energy, consciously and as economically as possible in their production processes. An environmental due diligence process must consider the minimal use of needed resources and to exclude unintended negative effects. Wherever technically and qualitatively possible, suppliers should use secondary, bio-based and renewable materials. In addition, recycling efforts and waste avoiding efforts (in line with the hierarchy of prevent, reduce, recycle, recover, dispose) should be intensified.

2.2.4 Waste

a&o has identified waste management as a central contributor to minimize the use of resources and has set itself ambitious targets to minimize waste in its operations.

Therefore, also suppliers can and must contribute to the overall reduction of waste for all procured goods in line with the hierarchy of waste – e.g., by avoiding waste, minimizing packaging materials, the use of recyclable materials, its re-use etc. They must also ensure that no waste is disposed of illegally.

2.2.5 Biodiversity and Deforestation-Free Supply Chains

a&o is seeking to promote biodiversity at its locations to the degree and wherever possible in our central urban locations.

Therefore, also suppliers must ensure that their business activities (including the supply chain) do neither contribute nor benefit from the illegal or avoidable destruction or conversion of biodiverse natural ecosystems or deforestation. If the value chains of procured products might involve that risk, a corresponding due diligence must be conducted. In case of legal deforestation or conversion of natural ecosystems, suppliers should evaluate measures to eliminate negative effects from their value chain – or, if not possible, adopt restoration or compensation measures.

2.2.6 Water Protection and Water Quality

a&o for many years has set water protection and minimization on the top of our sustainability agenda – supported by the installation of technical measures in our hostels and awareness raising initiatives for our guests.

Therefore, also suppliers must ensure that their business operations (including supply chains) minimize the use of water, prevent the contamination of surface- or groundwater and do not jeopardize local population’s access to clean freshwater. Particularly suppliers with water-intensive production must establish suitable measures, to not endanger fresh- or sea water. Particular precaution and additional measures are required, when operating in regions with water scarcity.

2.2.7 Hazardous Substances and Chemicals

a&o strives for minimizing the use of hazardous substances or chemicals (e.g., for cleaning and pest control) at its locations by using more and more biodegradable ones – to protect guests, employees and the environment.

Therefore, also suppliers generally should minimize or avoid hazardous substances. Suppliers providing, producing or dealing with chemicals and hazardous substances, which cannot be substituted in our hostels or the procured goods, must provide a corresponding and easy to understand identification, labeling and instruction to ensure their suitable storage and handling by employees working with those substances. In producing hazardous substances, suppliers must prevent air and soil pollution, water contamination and other harmful effects. Wherever possible, hazardous substances should be substituted by less toxic or even biodegradable ones.

2.3 Animal Welfare

a&o is committed to consider animal welfare when procuring food and beverages for the meals offered in our hostels as well of products with animal origin.

Therefore, suppliers providing food and beverages to a&o as well as those using materials with animal origin should implement standards to ensure animal welfare – such as, for example the „five freedoms“ of the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC)8: Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from fear and distress; freedom to express normal behavior. Furthermore, and if not legally required, suppliers should restrain from using animals for product-testing by following the „3R“ principles for animal testing: Replace animal testing altogether, reduce the number of animals used in testing and refine the testing methods in order to minimize the impact on animals.

2.4 Responsible Business Conduct

a&o has defined in its Integrity Code requirements for the behavior of its employees – at the same time however outlining our clear expectations on a responsible business conduct of all of our partners.

Therefore, and in line with the a&o Integrity Code, also suppliers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations in their own business activities and in their relationships with suppliers.

In addition, suppliers must, when dealing with a&o, desist from all forms of corruption, bribery (including fraud or embezzlement) and money laundering. In the event of violation, a&o has the right to withdraw from all legal transactions existing with the supplier.

Furthermore, suppliers must act according the rules of a fair competition, including compliance with applicable anti-trust laws, the protection of intellectual property and sanctions.

In case of a potential personal conflict of interest, suppliers must disclose this to a&o.

It is a further pre-requisite for doing business with a&o, that suppliers comply with all applicable laws and regulations concerning data protection and data security and handle data of employees, customers and business partners responsibly. In case of developing or using artificial intelligence (especially machine learning and deep learning) suppliers must use this technology responsibly.

For all requirements of responsible business conduct mentioned above, complainants may report any violations of these standards to a&o (see chapter 3, Reporting of Concerns).

3. Reporting of concerns

We at a&o urge our staff, our suppliers or any other stakeholder to raise concerns about any potential breach of applicable law or this “a&o Responsible Sourcing Policy”. Potential concerns can be reported or submitted any time though one of the following channels.

Postal address:
a&o hostels Marketing GmbH
Adalbertstr. 50
10179 Berlin

Mail address: [email protected]

If a violation falls within the sphere of influence of the supplier and his supply chain, the reported and (in the course) verified misconduct must be remediated by the supplier as quickly as possible.

Suppliers are also obliged to make their supply chains aware of the available channels for reporting complaints, ensure that this information is passed on to the deeper levels of the supply chain and establish an equivalent complaints format for their own supply chain.

Selection of references

  • International Bill of Human Rights, comprised of: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
  • OECD Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct
  • OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas
  • German National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights
  • a&o Integrity Code
  • Core Labour Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO):
    • ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age
    • ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
    • ILO Convention No. 29 on Forced or Compulsory Labour
    • ILO Convention No. 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labour
    • ILO Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation)
    • ILO Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration
    • ILO Convention No. 98 on Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining
    • ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize
  • Further relevant ILO conventions:
    • ILO Convention No. 155 on Occupational Safety and Health
    • ILO Convention No. 183 on Maternity Protection
    • ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples
    • ILO Convention No. 131 on the Determination of Wages
  • ISO 45001 Standard for Occupational Health and Safety
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples
  • OHCHR Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement
  • Paris Agreement on climate change
  • ISO 14001 Standard for Environmental Management
  • ISO 50001 Energy Management
  • Minamata Convention on environment and health

1 See particularly ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age and ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
2 See ILO Convention No. 29 on Forced Labour and Convention No. 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labour
3 See ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
4 For reference see ILO Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration and Convention No. 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation
5 For example ISO 45001 or similar
6 See ILO Conventions No. 1 and No. 30 on Hours of Work
7 See ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining
8 Another orientation might give the standards for improving animal health and welfare (Terrestrial Animal Health Code) published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)