Volkswagen is unlike any other company thanks to its corporate culture, which combines a modern understanding of responsibility and sustainability with the traditional values of running a business. As a global company, Volkswagen’s worldwide commitment and corporate giving policy support social projects and help those in need. At the same time, it integrates this concept with a modern vision that is focused on strategically anchoring corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability in the value chain. The challenges of the 21st century, particularly resource and climate conservation as well as fairness within and between generations, are reflected in our vision of responsibility and sustainability. Sustainability requires a commitment to balancing economic, ecological and social dimensions. Our CSR concept is aimed at ensuring that we avoid risks at every step along the value chain, identify opportunities for development early on and improve our reputation. CSR therefore makes a necessary contribution to increasing the value of the Company and safeguarding it in the long term.
Key challenges of doing business sustainably
Together with our stakeholder groups, we use our Strategy 2018 to work out which topics are important for Volkswagen’s long-term viability. In this analytically based process, we evaluate current international sustainability studies and engage in comprehensive dialog with our stakeholders. These include analysts, politicians and civil authorities, scientists, nongovernmental organizations and, not least, our employees. We discuss important challenges for our Company and the automotive industry in detail at both brand and Group level. The materiality matrix is an ongoing process during which the internal bodies discuss and evaluate the identified topics. The result is the roadmap for our sustainability strategy: a matrix with the key issues.
KEY ISSUES (RESULTS OF THE MATERIALITY ANALYSIS)
The Group Board of Management is also the supreme sustainability board in the Company. It receives regular updates from the Group CSR & Sustainability steering group about the issues of responsibility and sustainability. Senior executives from central Board of Management business areas, the Group Works Council and representatives of the brands and regions are members of this steering group. It resolves the sustainability strategy, which aims to help the Group achieve its goal of becoming the most sustainable automaker in the world in 2018.
Since 2006, the CSR office has coordinated all activities within the Group and the brands, using standardized structures, processes and reports. It strategically aligns all CSR activities and acts as a guidance unit for internal management processes and dialog with stakeholders. Our CSR project teams work on current topics across business areas, such as sustainability in supplier relationships. An international interchange between the CSR coordinators of all brands and regions has been taking place regularly since 2009. There is also a Group environmental conference and a Group environmental strategy group to coordinate environmental officers throughout the Group. We have set the course for an ecological reorganization of the Volkswagen Group by appointing a Group Chief Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas.
With the introduction of the IT-based sustainability management system and the further integration of the KPI (key performance indicator) systems, we have created the basis for comprehensive and timely CSR and sustainability reporting in the Group. The improved control efficiency and transparency of the KPI system allow Volkswagen to meet the increasing expectations of its stakeholders for an up-to-date, differentiated presentation of the Company’s CSR and sustainability performance.
Code of Conduct and guidelines
Our Code of Conduct, which is applicable throughout the Group, provides our employees with guidance on how to manage legal and ethical challenges in their daily work. These principles include the Group values of closeness to customers, maximum performance, creating value, renewability, respect, responsibility and sustainability. All employees are equally responsible for adhering to these principles.
International conventions, laws and internal rules are also key guidelines for our conduct. We also acknowledge our commitment to the “Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relationships at Volkswagen” (Volkswagen Social Charter), the Temporary Work Charter and the Charter on Labor Relations, all of which address fundamental social rights and principles.
Strategic dialog with stakeholders
For Volkswagen, the ability to help shape national and international corporate networks is an important component of the permanent dialog with key social groups and actors. We contribute our technical and social capability here and support numerous projects. The Group is represented on the board of the leading European business network for corporate social responsibility, CSR Europe. At a national level, we are represented on the board of econsense, the Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business. Along with numerous other companies, Volkswagen has signed the “Code of Responsible Conduct for Business” initiative.
Since 2002, we have been committed to the largest and most important CSR initiative in the world, the Global Compact. The 7,000 participating companies from over 135 countries work together to shape a more sustainable and equitable world economy. Volkswagen makes a significant contribution to this initiative. Ten principles governing human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and the fight against corruption describe the values of the Global Compact. In 2012, we again achieved the “Global Compact Advanced Level” and guided our business activities at all locations of our Company by the Global Compact principles. With our expertise, we also help other companies in the Global Compact to embrace their global responsibility. An example of this is our active participation on the advisory board for the “Sustainable Supplier Chain” project. Volkswagen is also involved in the campaigns of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
Volkswagen and the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) – the largest environmental protection organization in Germany – have been working together for more than ten years. This unique cooperation works because both sides take into account the other’s different interests. The cooperation is composed of three elements: advice, dialog and projects. As part of this, we are raising public awareness about issues regarding the environment and sustainability.
The fleet management project with Volkswagen Leasing GmbH is an ecological and economic success. We are reducing both CO2 emissions and costs on the part of fleet operators by deploying our most efficient vehicles. The project is also a particularly effective form of climate protection, since part of the project involves us providing funds for the protection of moors in Germany, which are important CO2 reservoirs.
CO2 EMISSIONS OF THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP’S EUROPEAN (EU 27) NEW PASSENGER CAR FLEET in grams per kilometer
The Volkswagen brand’s “Think Blue.” motto is a good example of its ecologically end-to-end concept. This means that ecological sustainability represents a core element – over the overall lifecycle of the products. Environmentally relevant considerations such as climate protection and resource conservation are integrated into our technical development at an early stage. “Think Blue.” also gives concrete advice on how to act, so that each of us can do our part by adopting environmentally conscious behavior. The brand aims to use its “Think Blue. Factory.” environmental program to reduce the most important environmental indicators, such as demand for energy, waste, water consumption, CO2 and solvent emissions by 25% in the period up to 2018. To do this, uniform measuring and reporting methods are being implemented in all plants around the world. Supporting ecological projects and getting involved in cooperative projects are also core components of “Think Blue.”. A good example of this was the “Think Blue. World Championship 2012.” fuel-saving competition, in which 18 teams from 17 countries showed that driving in a fuel-saving way is fun and that people’s personal driving habits positively influence fuel consumption.
Volkswagen in sustainability rankings and indices
As analysts and investors view CSR and sustainability performance as leading indicators of forward-looking corporate leadership, they also increasingly base their recommendations and decisions on companies’ CSR and sustainability profile. Sustainability ratings are particularly well suited to evaluating a company’s environmental, social and economic performance. If a company achieves the highest scores in these ratings, it not only sends a clear signal to its stakeholders, but also raises its attractiveness as an employer and the motivation of its existing employees.
As in the previous years, Volkswagen was again able to take its position among the leaders in its sector in the most important international ratings and indices in 2012. We are one of only three automobile companies listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, which is based on the assessment performed by Swiss company Sustainable Asset Management (SAM). MAN is the only German company in the industrial engineering sector to be represented in the Dow Jones Sustainability World and the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe indices. Norwegian insurance company Storebrand also selected Volkswagen as an invest- ment for its new Trippel Smart and SPP Global Topp 100 fund, which were launched in 2012. This fund only considers the 100 most sustainable companies in the world. We are leading in the “social” segment there.
RESULTS OF THE SAM 2012 ASSESSMENT
As of December 31, 2012, Volkswagen was represented in the following sustainability indices: Advanced Sustainability Performance Index (ASPI), Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, ECPI Ethical Index Europe, ECPI Ethical Index EMU, ECPI Ethical Index Global, Ethibel Sustainability Indices (ESI) Excellence, FTSE4Good and STOXX Global ESG Leaders Indices.