Strategic Objective: Exemplary Leadership and Corporate Culture

In the wake of the diesel crisis, as part of the Group’s TOGETHER 2025 strategy, the Volkswagen Group began a process of radical transformation from the ground up. This includes ideas and initiatives for revitalizing our corporate culture. In 2016, for instance, we formulated new Group-wide management principles and reviewed the criteria for appointments to management positions. One important new policy introduced in 2016 was the Code of Collaboration, which anchors our interactions within the Group in a clearly defined set of values. As the code defines the principles for trust-based collaboration within the Group, it also constitutes a key pillar of our strategy. It describes how employees should cooperate within the brand network and uses terms such as “open and honest”, “uncomplicated”, “without prejudice”, “on an equal footing” and “for one another”.

Beneath the umbrella of the overarching Group strategy, the Group brands are establishing their own brand strategies and defining their own corporate values based on the Code of Collaboration. For instance, the new corporate values of the Volkswagen brand are “together”, “courageous”, “customer-focused”, “efficient”, “open and honest” and “attentive”. These were announced in November 2016 following intensive, international consultations. Thousands of Volkswagen employees contributed to the formulation of these values in a wide variety of ways. 2017 will see campaigns to raise awareness of these values, as well as embed them in HR processes and corporate structures.

Equal Opportunities as Levers of Change

As part of the drive to revitalize our corporate culture, our efforts in 2016 were focused above all on implementing diversity management. This was not simply a response triggered by the fallout from the diesel crisis, but represents a radical modernization of our corporate culture. Different cultural circumstances in global markets and an increasingly dynamic economic situation demand from us an ever more broad-based array of experiences, world views, problem solutions and ideas for products. The diversity of our workforce offers us potential for innovation which we are seeking to leverage more effectively in the future. 

As part of our commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we champion diversity and equal opportunities at all our locations around the world. Our position is crystal clear: Volkswagen stands for respect, tolerance and cultural openness. We guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity, race, gender, disability, ideology, faith, nationality, sexual orientation, social background or political conviction, provided the latter is based on democratic principles and tolerance toward those who hold different views. The Volkswagen Group Code of Conduct, which was jointly agreed with our social partners in the Social Charter in 2002, underpins these aspirations throughout the Group. Under the code, every employee and member of an executive board is responsible for ensuring that colleagues work together in partnership and is obliged to report any breaches immediately.

If any employee feels they are being discriminated against, in addition to their statutory right to lodge a complaint, they may also contact trained staff for advice and support. At the initiative of the Works Council, employees’ obligations and their rights to non-discrimination were laid down in 1996 in the “Cooperative Conduct at the Workplace” company agreement applicable to all Volkswagen AG employees at all its sites. The agreement also covers bullying and other forms of discrimination. Every new employee receives a copy of it when they join the company. The subject of discrimination is also covered in management training courses. A separate brochure describing the benefits of colleagues working together in a collaborative way aims to raise awareness of and prevent discrimination. It includes information on how employees themselves can take action if they perceive discrimination, what advice is available, and the processes when making a complaint.

Volkswagen shows racism the red card

The Volkswagen Group is supporting “International Weeks against Racism”, a United Nations initiative. Volkswagen organized a large number of related events between March 13 and March 26, 2017, sending out a clear signal against discrimination and xenophobia. Across the Group, hundreds of employees of Group brands, subsidiaries and global facilities took part in a worldwide photo campaign, posting up selfies in support of the cause. CEO Matthias Müller led by example, calling for a clear stance opposing racism: “If you stay silent for too long, you shouldn’t be surprised if things that seemed set in stone just yesterday start to fall apart,” he said, as he explained the Group’s commitment. At the same time, he underscored the importance of intercultural, international tolerance for the Volkswagen Group: “Our diversity is part of Volkswagen’s DNA. True collaboration in intercultural, multiethnic teams around the world – whether in offices or on the factory floor – is based on respect and tolerance,” said Müller. He stressed that Volkswagen has as little patience for racism as for any other form of discrimination at work. “We have a clear code of conduct and impose heavy penalties for violations – up to and including dismissal!”

Volkswagen in Urumqi – Integration and Inclusion in practice

Xinjiang, the largest province (in terms of area) in the far west of China, is regularly troubled by unrest among the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group. Since 2013, Volkswagen and the Group’s Chinese joint-venture partner have been running a production facility in the province, in the city of Urumqi. Volkswagen is countering the unstable political situation in the region by actively assuming social responsibility.A quarter of the workforce is currently composed of members of ethnic minorities, of whom half are men and women from the original Uyghur population; so proportionally, the composition of the workforce reflects the ethnic profile of the greater Urumqi area. In addition, Volkswagen has set up a dedicated staff canteen at the plant that serves dishes prepared exclusively according to Islamic dietary requirements.

Volkswagen’s pioneering work in this area is bolstered by a wide range of CSR projects supporting all parts of the population of Urumqi and Xinjiang Province. The full scope of these CSR activities includes environmental protection, education and research, healthcare, culture, sport and the advancement of women.

Advancing Women and Combining Work and Family

As part of our diversity agenda, we continue to attach great importance to advancing the careers of women in the workforce. As a voluntary undertaking, the Group first proposed differentiated targets for the proportion of female employees in the workforce back in 2011. The following principle applies: we recruit the best graduates from each year in the required disciplines, taking as our starting point the proportion of female graduates on each course. When all the courses relevant to Volkswagen are averaged out, these differentiated quotas produce a recruitment target for female graduates of 30%.

Bringing more qualified women into the company will enable us to steadily increase the percentage of women in senior positions over the coming years. Volkswagen AG has set the following targets for increasing the proportion of women in management: 

  • by the end of 2021, 13.0% of employees at the first level of management should be female 
  • and by the same deadline, women should make up 16.9% of employees at the second level.

For senior positions at the brands and companies in Germany where equal treatment is prescribed by law, the Volkswagen Group is aiming for 14.3% of managers at all levels to be female by 2021. In order to support the career development of female talent in the company, in the course of 2017, all companies with a headcount of over 1,000 will define targets for appointing women to management positions. On this basis, at the beginning of 2018 we will then specify a new broader target for the Volkswagen Group worldwide. 

In 2016, the proportion of women in management in the Volkswagen Group in Germany (excluding Scania, MAN and Porsche) was 11.0%, up from 10.3% the year before.

We are taking a variety of measures to encourage this trend. For instance, 2016 saw the third cohort embark on the cross-brand management mentoring program, with 43 women from the Volkswagen Group in Germany participating. In addition, Volkswagen offers the “Kompass” program specifically to encourage female talent to aim for a career in management. Over the reporting period, 60 women from Volkswagen AG, MAN, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Volkswagen Osnabrück, Volkswagen Financial Services AG and Autovision GmbH took part in this program. There is a key difference between the objectives of the two programs: while “Kompass” prepares women for potential leadership roles at Volkswagen, the mentoring program is aimed at women in the talent pipeline who have already been identified as potential high flyers.

Volkswagen aims to attract female students at an early stage. Our Germany-wide “Woman DrivING Award” and “Woman Experience Day” both target female engineering and IT students and graduates, aiming to interest them in technical careers with us.

With its “Sie und Audi” (Audi and You) program, Audi AG has been supporting the career development of talented female high-achievers in all fields and at all levels for a number of years. The program focuses on different target groups and include, for example, a mentoring program for female talent as well as various seminars and networking opportunities. In addition, Volkswagen is aiming to increase the proportion of female skilled workers and group leaders in Germany to 10%. In the 2016 fiscal year, the percentage of female skilled workers in the Volkswagen Group in Germany (excluding Scania, MAN and Porsche) was 7.6%, and 5.1% for group leaders.

In order to increase the proportion of female trainees in industrial and technical trades from 23.3% in 2016 to 30% in 2021, Volkswagen is specifically seeking to attract female talent, for example by arranging special work experience and orientation days for young women. The aim of these events is to give young women a taste of training in these technical occupations and help them make career choices. For many years, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, MAN and Volkswagen Financial Services brands have participated in the Germany-wide “Girls’ Day” or “Day of the Future” event. During the reporting year, the “Girls’ Day” format offered over 2,000 female school students a practical insight into the industrial/technical careers offered in the automotive sector. During its “Technical Day”, ŠKODA gave 250 female school students the opportunity to try out occupations in science and technology by taking part in practical exercises.

Programs for the Advancement of Women

Program Target group and focus Company
Programs for recruiting talented women
Girls’ Day Female school students in Germany. Program offers a practical insight into careers in the automotive industry. Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH, Volkswagen Financial Services AG, Audi AG, Porsche AG, MAN
Lower Saxony Technikum Female students in Germany with school-leaving qualifications (Abitur). Program offers placements with focus on technology. Volkswagen AG locations in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig, Hanover, Emden and Salzgitter; Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH, MAN T&B Salzgitter
Woman Experience Day Female undergraduates and graduates in engineering and IT. Volkswagen AG
Woman DrivING Award Competition for female engineers in Germany. Volkswagen AG
Femtec.Network Recruitment of female undergraduates, graduates and professionals specializing in engineering and sciences. Porsche AG
Girls for Technology Camp / Girls in Research Camp Female school students interested in technical subjects experience and experiment with technology for themselves. Audi AG, MAN T&B in Munich
talents@ZEIT Female graduates and young professionals. MAN T&B
WOMAN's career day Electrical and automotive engineering, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, industrial engineering. MAN
Programs for developing talented women
Mentoring program for female Meister Female skilled workers and Meister. Program offers advancement and qualification. Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Audi AG
Kompass Female high-potentials. Program offers advancement and qualification. Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Volkswagen Financial Services AG, AutoVision, Volkswagen rGmbH, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH
Management mentoring program Female managers. Program offers advancement and qualification. Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Volkswagen Financial Services AG, VW Sachsen GmbH, AUDI AG, MAN, AutoVision, ŠKODA, Porsche AG
Sie und Audi (“Audi and You”) Various programs offering high-potential candidates advancement and qualification on their way to becoming team leaders or managers. Audi AG

As well as attracting and fostering female talent, Volkswagen is continually striving to improve employees’ ability to combine work and family life. To us, a family-oriented human resources policy is one of the key qualities of an attractive employer. 

The Group offers many different arrangements to enable individuals to juggle the demands of work and home. These include flexible part-time working and shift patterns, or teleworking and mobile working at Volkswagen and Audi, as well as working for Porsche from a home office. All brands also run programs to ensure a smooth return to work after a period of parental leave. “Careers and kids” is a new initiative at Volkswagen which supports young mothers and fathers during their parental leave and helps them find the best way of picking up their careers again following their return to work.

Another step on the way to becoming a family-friendly enterprise is our ongoing expansion of tailored childcare provision. Both in Germany and other countries, the Volkswagen Group has found childcare facilities in the vicinity of the company to be beneficial. In addition to well-established existing facilities, such as those at Volkswagen Financial Services AG or run by the Volkswagen Group of America in Chattanooga, in recent years we have set up a number of daycare centers near our operating locations. We also intend to expand childcare provision at other sites along the lines of the concepts used at the Volkswagen plants in Hanover and Emden, which were set up in collaboration with the respective local authorities. All German sites of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and MAN brands offer childcare during school holidays. And the range of childcare provision outside Germany is also expanding, with children’s holiday camps at, for example, Volkswagen plants in Shanghai, Navarra, Chattanooga and Kaluga. 

With these wide-ranging measures, we are confident that we are making a real contribution, not only to more diversity, but also to a culture of openness and inclusion across all our brands and companies.