Diversity and Equal Opportunities
Culturally diverse global markets and an increasingly dynamic global economy require us to remain highly flexible. The diversity of our workforce offers us opportunities and the potential for innovation we need to tackle these challenges. As part of our active support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we foster diversity and offer equal opportunities at all our locations around the world.
Equal Opportunities as a Matter of Principle
Volkswagen is committed to respect, tolerance and cosmopolitanism. We guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, disability, ideology, faith, nationality, sexual orientation, social background or political conviction, provided this is based on democratic principles and tolerance toward those who hold different views. The Volkswagen Group Code of Conduct underpins this aspiration across the Group, and every employee and member of an executive body has responsibility under the Code for ensuring that individuals work together in partnership, and for promptly reporting any breaches.
The Volkswagen Group is a complex global undertaking with 119 production sites in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. The Company is deeply committed to promoting peaceful cooperation between these diverse traditions and cultures.
At its Wolfsburg site, Volkswagen employed 60,452 people from 102 countries during the reporting year. The cultures they represent demonstrate how diverse Volkswagen is. They also bring huge benefit to the whole Company: Volkswagen is a cosmopolitan company, and interculturality is enormously important.
Employing Local Staff
It is our aim to drive forward development in the towns, cities and regions where the Volkswagen Group operates, so as a matter of principle we support the employment and qualification of local employees. This makes sense – they know the customers of their region, are better able to assess local markets and are connected to local networks. At our new Audi México plant in San José Chiapa, for example, local employees currently make up around 60% of all management staff. This percentage is set to rise further once the start-up phase is complete.
Across the Group, the number of employees working abroad has been steadily rising over a number of years. Employees on international assignments are local multipliers with a key part to play in our strategy of securing targeted and sustainable development and the transfer of knowledge and skills within the Group. We aim to develop the skills of the workforce particularly where new production sites have been established. In such cases, for example, we recruit a number of production staff before production comes on stream. These employees follow individually tailored qualification plans; they are prepared for their future roles with targeted on-the-job and off-the-job training at parent company sites. Upon their return to the new plant, they function as multipliers, passing on their newly acquired knowledge and making a substantial contribution to ensuring a successful launch. Our Global Assignments unit works with specialist departments to support this process with advice, planning and organization of assignments.
Support for Accompanying Family Members on International Assignments
We know that for our employees, having family members with them can be crucial to making their international assignments a success. The Volkswagen Group therefore offers extensive support for accompanying partners and children of our foreign service employees (FSEs), including help with identifying appropriate local childcare and schools and reimbursement of the costs involved in visiting nurseries, preschools and schools. A wide-ranging partner support program also enables accompanying partners to apply for financial resources, for example to engage in initial or continuing vocational training or academic study, or to cover the cost of volunteering activities. In many host countries, there is also close cooperation between the Volkswagen Group and local Chambers of Commerce and Industry or International Chambers of Commerce. The Chambers are able to provide help on the ground to our FSE partners by providing training or giving advice on finding employment or changing careers.
High Proportion of Employees with Disabilities
Volkswagen shows social responsibility toward both its disabled and non-disabled employees. In 2015, people with disabilities made up 7.34% of the total Volkswagen AG workforce, once again significantly above the statutory quota of 5%. 56% of employees with disabilities worked in the production sector.
Alongside commitments within the Company, Volkswagen also takes its social responsibility outside the Company seriously. In 2015, it placed orders worth more than €20.6 million with workshops employing people with disabilities. Volkswagen mobility aids have also helped give people with disabilities greater independence and autonomy.
The Company also shows its commitment to its disabled employees outside Germany. For example, six sheltered workshops at the ŠKODA production sites in the Czech Republic employ more than 200 people with disabilities.
Expanding Barrier-Free Access
As part of its corporate culture, Volkswagen is constantly working to make its premises barrier-free for employees. All employees, regardless of impairment, should be able to access all buildings, information and communications facilities without assistance. To make it easier for all our employees to find barrier-free parking, cafés and restaurants, self-service shops, lifts and toilets in our plants, we have drawn up an “accessibility map”, which will be updated on an ongoing basis. We are also constantly increasing the number of barrier-free workplaces and training facilities, as well as updating our preventive health provision.
We are also determined that having a disability should not be a barrier to applying to Volkswagen. In 2015, we therefore rolled out an accessible online application process for our vocational training programs. All applicants now have the same opportunity to complete Volkswagen’s online application process. Any applicant who encounters difficulties during the application process will be offered help by the Company, up to and including personal assistance by one of our employees.
In the reporting year, Volkswagen won the German state of Hessen’s 2015 Inclusion Prize, acknowledging the work done by our plant in Kassel to achieve inclusive employment for around 1,300 men and women with disabilities. The prize also recognized our longstanding commitment to having people with and without disabilities working side by side in the Kassel plant. The prize, which is awarded by the Hessen Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, has been bestowed on companies of varying sizes since 2006.
Diversity Management Contributes to Success
Volkswagen AG’s “Work2Work” program has been creating new career opportunities for performance-impaired employees since 2001. It focuses on achieving an optimal fit between the requirements of the workplace and employees’ existing potential, enabling them to make a major contribution to creating value despite their performance impairment. Over recent years, almost 2,000 employees have benefited from the program, and 818 people are now employed in Work2Work jobs in Wolfsburg in around 100 different fields of activity. Based on the three principles of responsibility, autonomy and solidarity, the success story of Work2Work is being continuously rolled out and taken forward.
As part of its diversity management strategy, Audi relies on inclusion. Employees with and without disabilities work together as a matter of course, even in production. According to a study by the University of St. Gallen, integrative teams tend to work more creatively than homogeneous working groups.
Grievance Management Anchored in Company Agreement
If any employee feels he or she is being discriminated against, the Company meets the statutory provision for whistle-blowing, but also gives the individual concerned access to trained personnel for support and advice. At the initiative of the Works Council, these rights and obligations were laid down in 1996 in the “Cooperative Conduct at the Workplace” company agreement for all Volkswagen AG employees and sites. This agreement anticipated Germany’s General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG) by 10 years. It also covers measures to tackle bullying and other forms of discrimination. Every new employee receives a copy of the agreement when he or she is appointed. It is also covered in management training activities. A separate brochure entitled “Collegiality for Success! Partnership at the Workplace” (“Kollegialität gewinnt! Partnerschaftliches Verhalten am Arbeitsplatz”) aims to raise awareness and prevent discrimination and provides information on how employees can get involved, what advice is available, and what happens when they lodge a grievance.