The Volkswagen Group has made a commitment to sustainability-oriented, transparent and responsible management. The greatest challenge to putting this into practice at all levels and at all stages of the value chain is our complexity, with 12 brands, more than 610,000 employees, and 119 production sites. In line with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code, we practice Group-wide sustainability coordination and forward-looking risk management and ensure a clear framework for the future-oriented handling of environmental issues, responsibility towards our employees and social engagement by our brands and in the various regions. The remuneration of the Group Board of Management is geared to the Company’s long-term results.
Guidelines and Principles
Voluntary undertakings and principles that apply across the Group form the basis and backbone of our strategic sustainability objectives. These include the following:
- Volkswagen Group values: Our position is defined by seven values. These are: customer focus, top performance, creating value, ability to renew, respect, responsibility and sustainability (2002).
- Volkswagen Model of Sustainable Development: Adopted in 2002 to mark the UN World Summit in Johannesburg (South Africa), this provides a Group-wide framework for sustainable and responsible action.
- Volkswagen Group Code of Conduct: Introduced in 2010, this applies throughout the Group and provides managers and employees with a guide to meeting legal and ethical challenges in their everyday work.
- Commitment to United Nations Global Compact: In 2002, the Volkswagen Group committed itself to promoting human rights, upholding labor standards, protecting the environment and combatting corruption. In 2013, this commitment was extended to include the CEO Water Mandate, which aims to ensure careful use of water resources. Until the diesel emissions issue has finally been resolved, we have agreed that our membership should be suspended
We also ensure that our activities are in line with
- the declarations of the International Labour Organization (ILO),
- the guidelines and conventions of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and
- the international UN pacts on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
We have created our own framework for this purpose in the Volkswagen Social Charter the Charter on Labour Relations, Charter on Vocational Education and Training and Charter on Temporary Work, all of which apply throughout the Group. Group-wide environmental protection is governed by the Group Environmental Policy and the Group-wide environmental principles governing products and production.
Functions and Composition of the Management Bodies
The Group Board of Management has nine members. Every member is responsible for one or more functions, and some members also have responsibility for a region. The Group Board of Management is supported in its work by the boards and management teams of the brands and regions, and of the other Group companies and affiliated companies. In accordance with the German Co-determination Act, the Supervisory Board, which appoints, oversees and advises the Board of Management, is made up of equal numbers of shareholder representatives and employee representatives. The Supervisory Board of the Volkswagen Group has a total of 20 members, three of whom are women. Clear ideas, including diversity targets, have been formulated for the composition of the Supervisory Board. For example, at least three seats should be held by individuals of a particularly international character. In addition, at least three seats on the Supervisory Board are to be held by women, at least two of whom should be representatives of the shareholders.
Coordination of Sustainability
The Volkswagen Group has established a clear management structure for coordinating CSR and sustainability. The top sustainability body is the Group Board of Management (Sustainability Board). The Sustainability Board is regularly informed by the Corporate Sustainability Steering Group about topics relating to corporate responsibility and sustainability. The Corporate Sustainability Steering Group includes top managers from central Board of Management business areas and representatives of the Group Works Council and of the brands. Among other things, the Steering Group makes decisions on strategic sustainability goals, uses management indicators to monitor the extent to which these goals are being met, identifies key action areas and approves the Sustainability Report.
The Steering Group is supported by the Sustainability Office. Its remit encompasses the coordination of all sustainability-related activities within the Group and brands, as well as stakeholder dialog conducted at Group level, for example with sustainability-driven analysts and investors. CSR project teams work on cross-functional tasks such as reporting, stakeholder management and sustainability in supplier relations. This coordination and working structure is also largely established across the brands and is constantly expanding. Since 2009, the CSR & Sustainability Coordinators for all brands and regions have met once a year to promote communication across the Group, establish consistent structures and learn from one another. This Group CSR Meeting has proved its importance as an integral part of the Group-wide coordination structure (see “Materiality Analysis”).