The Volkswagen Group is currently undergoing the most far-reaching process of change in the Company’s history. We intend to turn ourselves into the perfect example of a modern, transparent, successful enterprise – and integrity will play a key part in this process. Integrity is about more than legal or regulatory compliance. It is about aligning the entire Volkswagen Group with clear, convincing values that give guidance and a sense of direction to everybody in the Group. Integrity will be the key to our business success. Integrity will foster a culture of cooperation and close collaboration within the Volkswagen Group.

The Group’s Board of Management unanimously and unreservedly supports all efforts to embed integrity at the heart of everything we do together, across the Group as a whole. At Volkswagen, we require, encourage and honor ethical behavior. Integrity forms the foundation of our TOGETHER Strategy 2025.

Corporate codes and principles, level by level

Graphic: Corporate codes and principles, level by level
Dr. Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, new member of the Board of Management responsible for compliance (Integrity and Legal Affairs).

On January 1, 2016, the Volkswagen Group created a new Board of Management position for “Integrity and Legal Affairs”. Dr. Hohmann-Dennhardt has been appointed to this position.

As part of her responsibilities, Dr. Hohmann-Dennhardt is currently developing an integrity management system that will strengthen Volkswagen’s culture of integrity and establish it as a sustainable, long-term undertaking. But we do not regard integrity as something that can simply be delegated to all departments. Each and every one of our employees – especially our managers, who are expected to act as role models and bear joint responsibility – is asked to ensure that integrity becomes an integral part of our everyday working lives.

In September, the integrity management team launched an intensive communication campaign in Wolfsburg, with the aim of fostering a culture of integrity. The first stage of this campaign focused on sensitizing all employees to the concept of integrity by making them aware of it, explaining exactly what it means, and encouraging them all to explore and discuss the nature of integrity. To start with, simple quotations were used as food for thought. The quotations were posted on road signs and in hallways, in company restaurants and meeting rooms, on information boards and even in washrooms. They also appeared on monitors in company buses and on computer screensavers. The campaign turned integrity into a top-of-mind priority.

The team also created further opportunities for individual employees to obtain more information and take part, because we believe it is essential to involve as many employees as we possibly can. In fact, we are actively encouraging the inception and ongoing development of a culture of integrity in which everybody can participate. To do this, we have launched a Sounding Board program under which any employee, from any part of the company and any level in our hierarchy, can apply to become an Integrity Ambassador tasked with promoting Volkswagen’s culture of integrity.

Integrity Ambassadors are expected to play an active role in our transformation process both by acting as liaison persons in their departments, and by advocating the needs of their departments. Above all, they are expected to communicate the importance of integrity, encourage interdepartmental networking, actively support our evolving culture of integrity, and regularly share their experiences at Sounding Board meetings with the integrity management team. For us, establishing and maintaining permanent lines of communication and effective dialog between our specialist departments and the integrity management team is a very high priority. Furthermore, we look to ambassadors to help spotlight positive examples of ethical behavior within the Company.

Our in-house media report regularly and in detail on the activities of the integrity management team and the progress we are making in instilling a culture of integrity.

We also hold intensive debates on situations that pose ethical dilemmas, in which we explore various possible solutions. In a wide variety of events and reports, the Board of Management makes its stance very clear by explaining why integrity is so important to the Company. We strongly believe that integrity must become the platform for and driving force behind everything we do.

It is vital that our internal dialog on ethical, honest, upstanding behavior should not break down, but become a permanent part of our corporate evolution. It is vital to reassure each and every employee that it is in the Company’s best interests to act fairly and lawfully – and that their actions shall be judged in accordance with this principle by their supervisors and line managers. Who, in turn, are expected to lead by example.

The brands will each launch their own campaigns to involve employees and raise awareness of the fundamental importance of integrity.

In October, the Volkswagen Group appointed a Sustainability Advisory Panel 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 and foster our stakeholder dialog, even as we make steady, sustainable progress in our corporate development.

Together, we intend to live a life founded on integrity. Together, we intend to forge a new, partnership-based culture in which we can all believe, and of which we can all be proud.