On January 1, 2016, we started to create the organizational framework for a centralized integrity management function by setting up the new Board of Management position for Integrity and Legal Affairs. This Group function is responsible for planning, preparing and implementing programs and projects aimed at sensitizing, clarifying and intensifying a collective awareness of integrity as well as reinforcing a shared culture of integrity in the Company. A continuous exchange of ideas and discussion of issues relating to integrity are key components of the integrity management function.
Volkswagen AG is undergoing the most far-reaching process of change in the Company’s history. Particularly the loss of trust as a result of the diesel issue clearly showed that in terms of integrity Volkswagen must become a role model for a modern, transparent and successful enterprise. This plan is one of the strategic goals of TOGETHER – Strategy 2025.
Behaving with integrity is a prerequisite for commercial success and for a positive future for the Company. Only with lasting, dependable integrity will our Company gain and strengthen the trust of its staff, customers, shareholders, business partners and the general public.
Volkswagen’s goal is to enhance the culture of integrity in the Company and create a collective awareness of integrity. To this end, we launched an integrity program in 2016 involving all employees that is based on six action areas:
- Dialog & communication
- Sounding board program
- Executive program
- Processes & tools
- Monitoring & reporting
Dialog & communication
We provided information at regular intervals on the concept of integrity and its importance as well as on the evolution of the integrity program. In addition, we set up an integrity mailbox to create opportunities for direct communication between the integrity management team and the workforce. An exchange in the form of a live chat also took place on the GroupConnect internal social network.
Sounding board program
A shared understanding of what integrity means at Volkswagen can only be developed with the involvement and the experience of the entire workforce. This is why we have instituted the sounding board program as a key initiative in the integrity program. It will ensure close collaboration and dialog between the integrity management team and the workforce with the help of integrity ambassadors – voluntary support staff from management and staff circles. Interactive services as part of this program round off the communications portfolio.
Management’s function as a role model in relation to integrity along with managers’ special responsibility was clearly illustrated in a letter signed by all members of the Group Board of Management and in further information to management. The topic of integrity was also a fixed part of many management events.
Processes & tools
We are continuously examining the possibility of also implementing our principles of integrity into key management elements of the Company, for example, in the field of human resources and collaboration with business partners.
Monitoring & reporting
Regular monitoring of the integrity program not only helps us to fine-tune and readjust; it also underlines the relevance of the concept of integrity for employees and managers. Here, continuous evaluation of feedback from the integrity ambassadors and from employees and managers on issues relating to the adaptation and refinement of concepts plays just as important a role as the reporting in internal media and publications such as the sustainability report.
Once the pilot phase at the Wolfsburg site has ended, we intend to expand the integrity program to all brands, companies and regions. Those responsible in the areas of governance, risk and compliance are an important link in this context.