For the Volkswagen Group, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has long since come to mean a commitment to local well-being beyond the factory gates. As well as promoting social, cultural and societal projects, we see ourselves as a source of economic impetus for local structural development and equal opportunities. We support some 200 projects worldwide designed to enhance economic and social structures, placing special emphasis on continuity and sustainability. Our aim is that employees, shareholders, the local population and customers should all benefit from what we do.
Our CSR priorities include support for future-oriented, education and social projects, primarily in the locations where the Group operates. But we also offer rapid support to the victims of natural disasters and promote volunteering by our employees. The following fundamental principles underpin our choice of CSR projects:
- The projects are in line with the Group’s Basic Principles and address a specific local or regional issue.
- They reflect diversity within the Group and in the social environment in which the projects are sited.
- They involve a close stakeholder dialogue with actors on the ground, who are involved in carrying out the projects.
- Project management is based locally and overseen by local units.
Commitment to the Regions
We are committed to the regions in which our locations are based: a sustainable environment that is pleasant to live in gives a region the edge in competition for business, boosts local employees’ quality of life, and makes us more attractive as an employer. This is why, for example, Volkswagen AG supports regional growth initiatives in areas including education, health, leisure, energy and transport, alongside a broad range of measures to promote business.
Wolfsburg AG, based within the Group headquarters in Wolfsburg (Germany), is a beacon in this respect. This public-private partnership with the City of Wolfsburg, launched in 1999, is involved in future-oriented projects focusing on the important topics of employment and quality of life. And this joint undertaking is proving very successful: in November 2013, Wolfsburg topped the table for economic growth in a survey of German towns and cities by the business magazine Wirtschaftswoche and scored very highly for tax revenue, productivity and women’s employment. And the entire region now benefits from the work done to develop structures and local amenities: Wolfsburg AG works closely with the “Allianz für die Region GmbH”, or Regional Alliance, which takes in the towns of Wolfsburg, Braunschweig and Salzgitter and the surrounding rural areas as well as regional businesses.
Xinjiang doctors go West
Partnering with the Xinjiang Medical University and the Xinjiang Medical University Hospital, Volkswagen China is supporting an exchange program called “Xinjiang doctors go West”. As part of China’s support for infrastructure in the west of the country, this program both provides a platform for participating doctors to share experience and offers bursaries to young medical students.
In addition to regional infrastructure projects, Volkswagen AG is also actively involved in education in the region. The “Neue Schule Wolfsburg” project, an initiative to set up a new school in Wolfsburg in partnership with the city and local businesses, opened its doors in August 2009. This primary and secondary school, which is open to all children from the City of Wolfsburg and the surrounding region, designs its curriculum around five key themes: a strong international focus, science and technology, business, the arts, and the promotion of talent. The school has a total of 688 students enrolled in the 2014/2015 academic year. In Ingolstadt, meanwhile, Germany’s first integrated school (Profilschule) opened its doors in September 2014 with support from Audi. Its motto is “Kein Talent verlieren” (“Fostering every talent”), and this unique beacon project offers children and young people with difficult backgrounds educational support at primary and secondary levels. The project resulted from collaboration between the Bavarian Ministry of Education, the City of Ingolstadt, the Roland-Berger Foundation and Audi. Education is also a key area of involvement in the regions in which Volkswagen operates around the world. Volkswagen South Africa, for example, supports the nationwide Nal’ibali reading campaign, which has so far set up 272 reading clubs. Volkswagen Group China, meanwhile, runs a bursary scheme that enables students at Xinjiang University to participate in academic exchanges in Germany.
The “Plant-for-the-Planet” initiative launched by school student Felix Finkbeiner aims to reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by planting trees. The aim is to plant some 1,000 billion trees by 2020. On the initiative of the Works Council, Volkswagen is supporting this project which has also been recognized by the German UNESCO Commission. The program includes academies for children and young people at which they learn key facts about climate change and global fairness and have the chance to take part in a tree-planting event. Almost all Volkswagen locations in Germany have already hosted such academies and plant-a-tree events and these activities will be continued over the long term.
We also use our expertise in mobility and road safety in school education projects. Just one of many examples from companies within the Group is the “Parque Polo”, an area providing road safety training through play for children and sited in the grounds of the Volkswagen Navarra plant (Pamplona, Spain) which was opened more than ten years ago. In 2014, 8,522 children aged between 5 and 15 visited the Parque, taking the total number of visitors to 114,268.
Help for Flood Victims in the Balkans
After the disastrous floods that hit large parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia in May 2014, the Volkswagen Group sent €100,000 in emergency aid to the German Red Cross to support its work in the region. The money was used to provide victims with emergency supplies and to help with reconstruction.
Responsibility, respect and a long-term commitment are pillars of our personnel management work within the Volkswagen Group and benefit our employees, not least by boosting their social and crossfunctional skills. That is why we actively support our employees in volunteering through our “Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt” (“Volkswagen Supports Volunteering”) initiative, which is embedded in the personnel management function. The initiative focuses on sport, culture, education and society, but we also offer rapid support to the victims of natural disasters. For example, we can quickly release employees from their regular duties to assist in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The “Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt” function also supports all Group companies in implementing this framework concept. Our volunteering database enables the function to match volunteers with demand and to provide relevant information. By the end of 2104, the initiative had placed some 2,034 employees in volunteer roles, and similar programs have now been introduced at other Group companies, including Audi, MAN, Porsche and ŠKODA.
Employees with an interest in volunteering have access to 2,041 opportunities with more than 570 organizations through the Volkswagen volunteering database.
The Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt in-house “Senior Experts” initiative offers an opportunity to serve the community regionally or globally by passing on know-how within the Company or as a volunteer adviser to external organizations.
Senior Experts Benefit the Community
All employees looking for a new challenge once they have retired can volunteer with the “Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt” in-house “Senior Experts” scheme. This initiative offers them an opportunity to serve the community regionally or globally, for example, by passing on their know-how within the Company or as an adviser to external organizations. In 2014, 219 Senior Experts were able to choose whether, where and on which projects they wanted to put their specialist knowledge and skills to good use. Among other benefits, this valuable exchange of experience between older and younger people means that former employees maintain their links with the Volkswagen Group while both sides boost their knowledge and skills.
Civic Engagement Week of Action
Volkswagen supports the voluntary activities of its employees and aims to foster a wider awareness in society of the importance of voluntary commitments that advance social causes. As a cooperation partner to the German National Network for Civil Society (BBE), in 2014 Volkswagen pro Ehrenamt for the first time opened the 10th nationwide Civic Engagement Week of Action. During panel discussions on the topic of “Corporate Social Responsibility and Engagement” insight was provided into the voluntary activities of the Group and its employees.
Volkswagen AG: Workforce Donations in 2014 in %
The total value of giving does not include the “Volkswagen Belegschaftsstiftung” (Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation), set up in 2011. Volkswagen made no donations to political parties, party-affiliated foundations or representatives of the political arena.
1 This figure does not include cause-related marketing, sponsorship or projects and activities conducted by Volkswagen as part of its social and cultural commitment. Nor does it include donations by other Volkswagen Group brands.
The Volkswagen Group’s commitment to donations and sponsorship is a key part of our corporate identity and reflects our desire to fulfil our corporate social responsibility. We support a wide range of organizations and events around the world. The principles underpinning donations and sponsorship are governed by our Group-wide Code of Conduct, which stipulates that we give donations in cash and in kind for activities and projects primarily devoted to research and education, culture and sport, and social causes. Donations are granted only to organizations recognized to be non-profit or that are authorized by special provisions to accept donations. Volkswagen does not donate to political parties, party-affiliated foundations or representatives of the political arena. Over the reporting year, Volkswagen AG donated a total of €14 million. Along with social organizations, in 2014 the main beneficiaries of donations were the victims of major natural disasters.
In 2014, employees of Volkswagen AG alone donated more than €4 million to good causes. Employee donations represent a major contribution by Volkswagen AG companies and their employees to those in need in locations where the Company operates. Employee donations support specific projects, such as those that improve the lives of people whose quality of life is reduced by illness, disability or other circumstances. Our goal is to offer support to those who are disadvantaged and to boost social cohesion: for example, we support the “Starthilfe” (Getting Started) project, which helps socially disadvantaged children and young people and improves the lives and prospects of young people in the Wolfsburg region. In the “One Hour for the Future” campaign, Volkswagen and Audi employees donate an hour’s pay to help street children. Since the summer of 2003, this initiative has also included the collection of “spare cents”: employees donate the odd cents included in their monthly pay slip.
To coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Volkswagen donated over €2 million for a special project, “A chance to play – o direito de brincar”. The money helped children living in favelas in the vicinity of Volkswagen’s Brazilian locations.
Volkswagen AG: Employee Donations in 2014
|One Hour for the Future
|“A chance to play – o direito de brincar”
The Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation
The Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation was set up in 2011 as a charitable foundation by Volkswagen AG with the aim of promoting initial, continuing and vocational training, education, and support for young people, with a particular focus on improving the living conditions of children and young people regardless of their origin, background or religion. To achieve this effectively, the Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation restricts its activities to areas surrounding the Group’s locations worldwide.
Since 2011, the Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation has launched or supported ten projects in Germany and elsewhere. In Portugal, for example, it supports the “Tu importas” (“You count”) project, a three-year training program for socially disadvantaged young people.
At the suggestion of the General Works Council, Volkswagen AG has been supporting the sale of TransFair-branded products in its catering facilities via its catering provider, Service Factory Gastronomie und Hotellerie, since 1999. This helps producers in developing countries to earn a decent living. In 2014, total consumption of fairly traded coffee rose 23.7%, to 60 t. And since 2012, Volkswagen has also been selling fairly traded craft items: producers in Madagascar use recycled cans to produce models based on iconic Volkswagen vehicles.
To coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Volkswagen donated over €2 million for a special project, “A chance to play – o direito de brincar”.
Our Global Engagement
The Volkswagen Group supports some 200 projects promoting social development, the arts and culture, education, regional structural development, health and sport, as well as nature conservation. When deciding which social projects to support and partnerships to enter into, we don’t take a scattershot approach but consider whether they make a good match for our corporate focus on mobility or are located in the vicinity of our production locations and benefit the people who work there or live locally. At all of our brands and in every region in the world of Volkswagen, living up to our social responsibilities is at the core of our corporate culture. On the Internet you will find a map of the world that you can click on for more details about all and any of our projects. 29