The Volkswagen AG is currently undergoing the most far-reaching process of change in the Company’s history. Painful experience, especially the massive loss of trust that followed the diesel issue, has made it clear that when it comes to integrity, our primary aim must be to become a role model for a modern, transparent and successful enterprise. This intention represents one of the key objectives of our TOGETHER Strategy 2025.
"TOGETHER – Strategy 2025” Objectives
On January 1, 2016, the Volkswagen Group created a new Board of Management position for “Integrity and Legal Affairs”, laying the organizational groundwork for centralized integrity management across the Group.
The integrity management function is responsible for planning, preparing and implementing programs and projects aimed at raising, clarifying and intensifying a collective awareness of integrity, as well as reinforcing a shared culture of integrity within the Company. Key components of the integrity management function include a continuous exchange of ideas and dialog concerning integrity-related issues.
Because we value a neutral outside perspective, in October 2015 the Volkswagen Group appointed a Sustainability Council of leading experts in research, academia, science and politics. Their remit is to provide advice on, among other things, questions of business ethics and integrity. With their independent expertise and recommendations, they will support our efforts to fulfil our social responsibilities, promote integrity, foster our stakeholder dialog, and help drive the steady, sustainable progress of our corporate development.
Together, we intend to live by a new, partnership-based culture of integrity in which we can all believe, and of which we can all be proud.
The Volkswagen Group’s goal is to enhance the culture of integrity in the Company and create a collective awareness of integrity. To this end, in 2016 we launched an integrity campaign that included in a series of activities designed to encourage all employees to engage with the topic of integrity. At the end of December 2016, we moved from the integrity campaign to a multi-dimensional integrity program that is based on six action areas:
The Six Action Areas of the Integrity Program
Ethical behavior is a prerequisite for the business success and successful future of our Company. Only with enduring and dependable integrity can the Company gain and strengthen the trust of its employees, customers, shareholders and business partners. Each and every one of our employees – and especially our managers – is asked to ensure that integrity becomes an integral part of our daily working lives.
Dialog & Communication
In September 2016, we launched an intensive communication campaign in Wolfsburg. In the first phase, we raised employee awareness of the topic of integrity by deploying visual messages on posters, displays and monitors throughout the production site. This was followed by a second phase in which employees were actively included in the dialog, and various participatory activities such as an employee survey were conducted as part of a special event at a works meeting. Next, we accepted volunteers from all parts of the company and levels of the hierarchy as Integrity Ambassadors for our Sounding Board program.
Through the Integrity Ambassadors, the Sounding Board program ensures close collaboration and dialog between the integrity management team and the workforce.
In Wolfsburg, 140 Integrity Ambassadors for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand are already playing an active role in our transformation process by acting as liaisons in their departments, communicating the importance of integrity, encouraging networking and actively supporting our culture of integrity. Our goal is to establish permanent lines of communication between our employees and the integrity management team. We also look to the Integrity Ambassadors to help us analyze ethical dilemmas which may arise in our specialist departments and spotlight positive examples of ethical behavior within the Company.
In addition, the Sounding Board program also organizes several interactive events each quarter which provide a platform for the ambassadors to actively share ideas with the integrity management function and the Board Member for Integrity and Legal Affairs..
The entire Group Board of Management signed a letter to all executives and managers in the Company, clearly emphasizing the responsibility of each and every member of management to serve as a role model for integrity. The topic of integrity has also been high on the agenda at many management meetings, including the Global Top Management Conference, the Governance, Risk and Compliance Global Conference, and other Group management information events.
Processes & Tools
As part of our sustainability drive, and with the aim of establishing integrity as the bedrock of our business practices, we are also integrating ethical practices into our personnel recruitment and training processes.
And by including a question about ethics in our annual employee opinion survey, we hope to be able to draw conclusions about the culture of integrity at Volkswagen and identify when there is a concrete need for action to address a specific issue.
Monitoring & Reporting
Regular monitoring of the measures defined in each action area helps us to fine-tune and readjust our integrity program. Our own reporting on the effectiveness of measures that have been implemented also plays an important role.
Since October 2016, the Group integrity management function has been working closely with the brands and companies to plan, formulate and roll out the successive expansion of the integrity program. The employees responsible for governance, risk and compliance within the brands and companies are playing an important role in this process.