Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

The perception of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable action serve to increase the value of an enterprise and safeguard it in the long term. CSR at the Volkswagen Group means that social and ecological issues are an integral part of our actions. Closely intertwined with the core economic processes, CSR has the task of avoiding risks, identifying opportunities for development early on and improving the Company’s reputation.

As a good corporate citizen, social involvement constitutes a key element of our entrepreneurial activities. The same maxims apply at all Volkswagen Group locations worldwide: Volkswagen supports social development, culture and education. At its facilities the Group is involved in the development of regional infrastructure and research, setting up projects in the fields of health promotion, sport and nature conservation.

Vision of sustainability

Our vision of sustainability outlines the principles of sustainable action, something which we believe that constitutes the benchmark of a corporate policy with a long-term focus that takes on not just economic, but also ecological and social challenges. The Volkswagen Group develops, produces and markets vehicles and services worldwide to give its customers access to individual mobility with attractive solutions. In these processes, we consistently follow our goal of making progressive technology available worldwide, taking aspects of environmental compatibility and social responsibility into account.

Volkswagen is a company with German roots, European values and global responsibility. The rights, personal development, social provision and economic participation of our employees are core elements of our corporate policy. In our eyes, a culture of cooperation and partnership thus forms the basis for the successful collaboration between corporate management and employee representatives – in Germany, Europe and worldwide. The maxim of economically compatible and socially responsible management also applies in our collaboration with suppliers. We see ourselves as a partner to society and policymakers at all Group locations.

CSR Coordination and Sustainability office

In 2006, we set up a “ CSR Coordination and Sustainability” office whose main task is to strategically align and optimize CSR and sustainability management in the Volkswagen Group, for which it networks the internal units and improves exchange processes between the line departments. The office reports to the CSR steering group, which includes all central Group departments and the Group Works Council. There is also an interdisciplinary CSR project team that meets regularly. The data and KPI system that Volkswagen is building will enable it to organize internal management processes more efficiently in the future.

Since December 2008, the office has supported an online portal launched by the CSR Europe corporate network that is designed to help companies make ecological and social improvements in the supplier chain. Volkswagen will contribute to increasing the awareness of the portal through its media contacts, training activities and events.

Volkswagen in sustainability rankings and indices

The players in the financial markets – analysts and investors – increasingly expect companies to provide them not solely with economic indicators, but also information about the company’s sustainability profile – as an indicator of forward-looking corporate management – on which they will base their recommendations and decisions. Sustainability ratings are therefore a vital means of illustrating a company’s performance in the environmental, social and economic/governance dimensions. Volkswagen was able to maintain and actually improve its position among the leaders in its sector in the most important international ratings and indices.

Following a reassessment of the Company in 2008 by Swiss asset management company SAM on behalf of Dow Jones, Volkswagen was the only representative of the automobile industry to be included in the European Dow Jones STOXX Sustainability Index. In addition to recognized achievements for highly efficient technological solutions and environmental protection, special emphasis was placed on the advances in human resources work and social responsibility.

Volkswagen is represented in the following sustainability indices (at December 31, 2008): ASPI (Advanced Sustainability Performance Indices), Dow Jones STOXX Sustainability Index, Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, Ethibel Sustainability Index, FTSE 4Good and FTSE 4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40.

in percent
Results of the SAM 2008 assessment in percent (bar chart)

German sustainability award

Volkswagen is the only German automaker to have received the German sustainability award in the category “Germany’s Most Sustainable Brand”. The prize, which is awarded under the patronage of German Federal President Horst Köhler, honors companies that combine financial success with social responsibility and environmental compatibility in an exemplary manner. At the award ceremony, the panel of distinguished judges composed of representatives of academia, industry, policies and non-governmental organizations underlined in particular Volkswagen’s specific sustainability goals and corresponding sustainability strategy. Elements of this strategy include sustainable supplier management, anti-corruption initiatives and codes of ethics for business processes, as well as product-related involvement reflected in the Group’s fuel and drivetrain strategy. External certifications, the inclusion in sustainability indices and the work of the “ CSR Coordination and Sustainability” office convinced the jurors. 350 international companies and over half of the companies listed on the DAX 30 took part in the competition.

Global Compact

Since 2002, Volkswagen has supported the Global Compact initiated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the largest and most important CSR alliance comprising over 5,000 companies from all around the world. Volkswagen’s aim in participating is to help realize the collective vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.

The Global Compact is based on ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and the fight against corruption. Volkswagen continued to focus on these principles at all its plants in 2008 and provided its expertise to enable others to accept global responsibility.

Volkswagen is actively involved in the German Global Compact network, one of the many “local” networks that have sprung up as local learning and dialog platforms. In 2008, we took part in a series of workshops on sustainable consumption moderated by the United Nation’s environmental program and the Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP).


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