Advancing Women and Diversity

There is enormous potential within the diversity of the Volkswagen Group workforce. As we move towards becoming top employer in the automotive sector, we want to make use of this potential by explicitly advancing women, improving the scope for combining work and family, and making full use of the cultural diversity that exists within the Group.

Voluntary Undertaking

The Volkswagen Group is aiming to have 30% women at all levels of the management hierarchy in Germany in the long term. In 1989, Volkswagen AG became the first major German company to formulate guidelines on advancing women. As early as 2007, Volkswagen AG set specific targets for increasing the proportion of women in the Company, and in spring 2011, the Group set differentiated targets within the framework of a voluntary undertaking to achieve sustainable growth in the proportion of women working for the Company in Germany. These include:

  • Increasing the proportion of female apprentices
  • Increasing the proportion of female Meister and skilled workers
  • Increasing the proportion of female graduate and professional recruits
  • Increasing the proportion of female executives

We have a range of programs to help us achieve these targets.

Recruiting Talented Women

In 2014, women accounted for around 21.8% of all Volkswagen Group apprentices in industrial or technical areas. To increase this to 30%, we specifically target the recruitment of talented women, for example through the nationwide “Girls’ Day”, which offers young women an opportunity to experience what a career with Volkswagen can offer them. The “Lower Saxony Technikum” is a scheme in which the Volkswagen brand offers female students with the Abitur – Germany’s school-leaving examination – a six-month internship designed to stimulate their interest in studying a technical subject. In 2014, 26 young women completed the “Lower Saxony Technikum”. We also forge links with female undergraduates at an early stage in their studies. For example, Volkswagen AG runs a “Woman Experience Day”. Since 2004, Volkswagen AG has also been running the Germany-wide “Woman DrivING Award”, a competition aimed at top female engineers.

Programs for the Advancement of Women

Show table
Program   Target group and focus   Company  
Programs for recruiting talented women
Girls’ Day
Female school students in Germany. Program offers a ­practical insight into automotive sector careers. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG , ­­Volks­wa­gen Financial Services AG , ­­Volks­wa­gen Sachsen, ­­Volks­wa­gen Osnabrück, AUDI AG , MAN SE , Porsche AG
Lower Saxony Technikum

Female students in Germany with the school-leaving ­qualification (Abitur). Program offers placements with a ­focus on technology. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG locations in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig, ­ Salzgitter, Hanover and Emden; ­­Volks­wa­gen Osnabrück GmbH
Woman Experience Day
Female undergraduates and graduates in engineering and IT areas. Program helps women into careers. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG
Woman DrivING Award Competition for female engineers in Germany. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG
Femtec.Network Recruitment tool for female engineers. Porsche AG
Girls engineering the future
10th grade female school students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics Bentley
Programs for developing talented women
Mentoring program for ­female Meister Female skilled workers and Meister. Program offers ­advancement and qualification. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG , ­­Volks­wa­gen Sachsen GmbH
Management mentoring ­program Female managers. Program offers advancement and ­qualification. ­­Volks­wa­gen AG , AUDI AG , MAN and other subsidiaries
Sie und Audi
Female skilled workers and managers. Program offers ­advancement and qualification. AUDI AG

Systematically Recruiting Female Graduates

In recruiting graduates, we take as our starting point the proportion of female graduates in each discipline, so that, for example, around 10% of all the mechanical or electrical engineers we recruit should be women. This rises to 50% in business administration. When all the disciplines relevant to Volkswagen’s work are averaged out, these differentiated quotas produce a recruitment target of at least 30% female graduates. In the reporting year, around 30% of graduate recruits at Volkswagen AG were female.

Mentoring Programs for Women

Having been through 21 cycles with almost 400 female participants, Volkswagen AG’s mentoring scheme for female skilled workers and managers is a recognized development program within the Group for bringing on talented women. In 2014, we also instigated a new management mentoring program, which is launching its first 42 women from the Volkswagen, Audi and MAN brands and further subsidiaries on their management careers. And the program to mentor female Meister run by Volkswagen AG aims to increase the proportion of female skilled workers and Meister in Germany to 10%. In 2014, 25 female Meister received support through this program.

Combining Work and Family

As well as recruiting and promoting talented women, the Volkswagen Group is working continually to improve employees’ ability to combine work and family responsibilities. The support we offer includes:

  • Substantial flexibility in relation to hours of work
  • An extensive range of part-time and shift-working arrangements
  • A return to work at the same level after parental leave
  • Childcare either within or near the company premises

To maintain contact with employees on parental leave and to ensure a smooth return to work at the same level, Volkswagen offers work options during parental leave, get-togethers for employees on parental leave and information events, such as the “Family Management and Career” seminars, run at the Wolfsburg plant. Audi, Porsche and MAN offer similar provision.

A Range of Childcare Provision

A further step on the way to becoming a family-friendly employer is the ongoing expansion of tailored childcare provision. The Volkswagen Group has found it beneficial to establish childcare facilities within or near the Company. At the Volkswagen locations in Wolfsburg, Hanover and Emden, additional nurseries have been set up near the plants in cooperation with the local authorities, while MAN runs company kindergartens at its plants in Munich and Augsburg. Volkswagen Financial Services AG’s “Frech Daxe” nursery in Braunschweig, meanwhile, is one of Germany’s largest company nurseries.

Examples of Combining Work and Family

Caring for Family Members

Volkswagen AG has a wide range of provision for time off to help its employees care for close family members. Employees have a right to take up to ten working days’ leave at short notice to organize appropriate care. They may also take up to six months’ part-time or full-time leave to fulfil their caring responsibilities. Another option is to work part-time for up to 24 months so as to be able to meet caring obligations. Volkswagen is particularly flexible in its commitment to re-employing workers who take extended leave; for the past 20 years or so, employees have been able to request up to eight years’ leave of absence without having to give reasons and have a guaranteed right to re-employment on their former terms and conditions. At Porsche, employees have been able to apply for time off to care for family members since March 1, 2014. In the event of care being urgently required within the family, they can take up to three months’ leave at 75% of their gross monthly pay. In this respect, Porsche goes well beyond the legal requirements, which do not envision any remuneration for this period.

Employees at many Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH, Volkswagen Financial Services AG, Audi and Porsche locations enjoy childcare provision during school holidays.

High Proportion of Employees with Disabilities

Volkswagen is particularly committed to helping employees with performance impairment or disabilities. People with disabilities made up 7.39% of the total workforce of Volkswagen AG in 2014 – once again, well above the statutory quota of 5%. 55% of employees with disabilities worked in the production sector and 45% in support functions. Volkswagen is also helping to boost employment for people with disabilities outside the Company: during the reporting year, it placed orders worth more than €20.9 million with workshops employing people with disabilities. Volkswagen mobility aids have also helped to give people with disabilities greater independence and autonomy.
The Company is also particularly committed to its performance-impaired employees outside Germany. An example here is the six sheltered workshops that employ more than 200 people with disabilities at the ŠKODA production locations in the Czech Republic.

Inclusion Agreement Signed

In July 2014, the Board of Management, the Works Council and the representatives of people with disabilities signed an inclusion agreement that applies across all Group brands and companies in Germany. This agreement makes inclusion an integral part of the corporate culture and focuses not on individuals’ supposed deficits but on their strengths and potential. The aims of the agreement are as follows:

  • People with disabilities are assigned meaningful roles and responsibilities in which they can make optimal use of, and develop, their strengths and potential and obtain recognition for their performance.
  • Young people with disabilities can pursue vocational education and training within the Volkswagen Group. Barriers to the application process are progressively dismantled.
  • The topic of inclusion forms part of the corporate mind-set and is taken for granted in employees’ daily dealings with each other. Managers have an important part to play in promoting changes in attitudes: the necessary changes will come about only when people are well informed.
  • If the strategy is to be implemented sustainably, inclusion must be embedded in the agenda of all relevant committees.
  • Progress should be made in joint projects between the Company and the representatives of people with disabilities on boosting inclusion. Those involved will receive support from the Board of Management and employee representatives.

A working group is charged with implementing this agreement through various action areas and measures.

Dr. Horst Neumann, Member of the Group Board of Management responsible for Personnel Management and Organization, Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the Group Works Council, and Klaus Wenzel, Chairman of the representatives of people with disabilities, sign a joint declaration on inclusion.

Equal Opportunities as a Matter of Principle

Volkswagen is committed to respect, tolerance and cosmopolitanism. We guarantee equal opportunities and equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity, skin color, gender, disability, ideology, faith, nationality, sexual orientation, social background or political conviction, provided this is based on democratic principles and tolerance towards those who hold different views. The Volkswagen Group’s 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 notifying any breach of the Code without delay. If there is a breach of the Code, the Company may take appropriate action against an individual who is acting in a discriminatory way; sanctions range from a formal warning or relocation to dismissal.
If an employee feels he or she is being discriminated against, the Company meets the statutory provisions for whistle-blowing but also provides access to trained personnel to support and advise the individual concerned. At the initiative of the Works Council, these rights and obligations were laid down in 1996 in the “Cooperative Conduct at the Workplace” works agreement for all Volkswagen AG employees and locations. This agreement was revised in 2007, and every new employee receives a copy when he or she is appointed. It is also covered in management training activities.