Sustainable Management

The Volkswagen Group has made a commitment to sustainability-oriented, transparent and responsible management. The greatest challenge to putting this into practice at all levels and in all stages of the value chain is our complexity, with twelve brands, nearly 600,000 employees and 118 production locations. In line with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code, we practice Group-wide sustainability coordination and forward-looking risk management and ensure a clear framework for the future-oriented handling of environmental issues, responsibility towards our employees and social engagement by our brands and in the various regions. The remuneration of the Group Board of Management is geared to the Company’s long-term results.

Guidelines and Principles

Voluntary undertakings and principles that apply across the Group form the basis and backbone of our strategic sustainability objectives. These include the following:

  • Volkswagen Group values: Our position is defined by seven values. These are customer focus, top performance, creating value, ability to renew, respect, responsibility and sustainability (2002). 7
  • Volkswagen Model of Sustainable Development: Adopted in 2002 to mark the UN World Summit in Johannesburg (South Africa), this provides a Group-wide framework for sustainable and responsible action. 8
  • Volkswagen Group Code of Conduct: Introduced in 2010, this applies throughout the Group and provides managers and employees with a guide to meeting legal and ethical challenges in their everyday work. 9
  • Commitment to United Nations Global Compact: In 2002 the Volkswagen Group committed itself to promoting human rights, upholding labor standards, protecting the environment and combatting corruption. In 2013 this commitment was extended to include the CEO Water Mandate, which aims to ensure careful use of water resources.

We also make sure that our activities are in line with

  • the declarations of the International Labour Organization (ILO),
  • the guidelines and conventions of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and
  • the international UN pacts on fundamental human rights and freedoms.

We have created our own framework for this purpose in the Volkswagen Social Charter, the Charter on Labour Relations and the Charter on Temporary Work, all of which apply throughout the Group (see "Performance and Participation“). Group-wide environmental protection is governed by the Group Environmental Policy and the Group-wide environmental principles governing products and production (see "Environmental Policy“).


The CSR & Sustainability Coordinators of the brands and regions met in Brussels in September 2014.

Group CSR-Meeting

Functions and Composition of the Management Bodies

The Group Board of Management has nine members. Every member is responsible for one or more functions, and some members also have responsibility for a region. The Group Board of Management is supported in its work by the boards and management teams of the brands and regions, and of the other Group companies and affiliated companies. In accordance with the German Co-determination Act the Supervisory Board, which appoints, oversees and advises the Board of Management, is made up of equal numbers of representatives of the shareholders and representatives of the employees. The Supervisory Board of the Volkswagen Group has a total of 20 members, three of whom are women. Clear ideas, including diversity targets, have been formulated for the composition of the Supervisory Board. For example, at least three seats should be held by individuals of a particularly international character. In addition, at least three seats on the Supervisory Board are to be held by women, at least two of whom should be representatives of the shareholders.

Coordination of Sustainability

The Volkswagen Group has established a clear structure for coordinating CSR and sustainability. The top sustainability body is the Group Board of Management, referred to here as the Sustainability Board. At least twice a year the Sustainability Board is informed by the Corporate CSR & Sustainability Steering Group about topics relating to corporate responsibility and sustainability. The Corporate CSR & Sustainability Steering Group includes top managers from central Group business areas, members of the Group Works Council and representatives of the brands and regions. It meets four times a year, decides on the strategic sustainability goals and signs off the Sustainability Report.
The Corporate CSR & Sustainability Steering Group is supported by the CSR & Sustainability Office, which has coordinated all sustainability-relevant activities within the Group and the brands since 2006. Its remit also includes the stakeholder dialogue conducted at Group level, including relations with sustainability-oriented analysts and investors. There are also several dedicated project teams, each working at crossfunctional level on tasks such as sustainability reporting or sustainability in supplier relations. These coordination and working structures have, with a few exceptions, also been established within the Volkswagen Group’s brands and are constantly being expanded. Group-wide sustainability reporting underwent further structuring and extension in 2014, once the data for the 2013 Group Sustainability Report had been captured for the first time in an IT-based information system.

Remuneration of the Board of Management

Coordination of Environmental, Personnel and Social Engagement Issues

In 2011 the Volkswagen Group took an important decision for the ecological restructuring of the Group by appointing a Group Chief Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas. The Environmental Strategy was approved by the Group Board of Management at the end of 2013 (see "Environment->Management Approach"). Since then, work has been in progress on implementing it within the Group and the individual brands. The Group Environmental Conference, at which the environmental officers of the brands and regions meet regularly, has been in place since as long ago as 1998. The last meeting was held in 2012, and the next will be in 2015. Through the Corporate Environment and Energy Steering Group, which also reports to the Sustainability Board, the coordination of environmental issues follows the structure described above for CSR & Sustainability.
The framework for coordination of employee responsibility is defined by the Corporate Personnel Management department and implemented locally. In 2013 a personnel management strategy to support the Group goals for 2018 was adopted (see "People->Management Approach). Social engagement falls largely within the responsibility of the brands, companies and locations. To ensure a certain standardization worldwide, the Group has defined central principles (see "Social Responsibility“).