Volkswagen has always believed in the importance of assuming social responsibility for our stakeholders. As an internationally active corporation, we bear a global responsibility that extends beyond our factory gates. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations in 2015 will provide an important frame of reference for our corporate citizenship going forward. One of the objectives behind the revision of our corporate citizenship strategy in 2016 was to identify those SDGs to which the Volkswagen Group can contribute most effectively.
We consider it important to take a strategic approach to corporate citizenship, so we select and develop our projects carefully – both independently and in collaboration with local partner organizations and NGOs. Alongside our objective of helping to address global challenges, the needs of local stakeholders play an equally important role for us. Local project management allows us to react flexibly to these needs. To achieve the aim of lasting structural change, we also place great value on continuity and long-term partnerships.
In selecting and implementing projects, we are guided by our Group-wide policies, which provide the decision-making framework for all our activities:
- The projects align with our corporate mission while addressing a global challenge or a specific local or regional issue.
- They are an expression of the diversity within the Group and the social environment in which the projects are being carried out.
- They are developed in close dialog with local stakeholders, who are also involved in their implementation.
- Projects are managed locally under the responsibility of the units that operate in that region.
By turning our attention to both local and international issues, we are able to live up to the many and diverse expectations of our stakeholders. In 2016, the Group and all its brands and regions were involved in around 200 projects, which included development, educational and social welfare initiatives.
Strategic Corporate Citizenship
The building blocks of our corporate citizenship initiatives are decentralized project management, diversity, and space for local needs. Nevertheless, in the future we intend to pursue the networking of projects at Group level more aggressively, which will allow us to scale up successful projects and bundle resources even more efficiently. We also want to obtain a more comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of our projects. With this in mind, we are looking at new ways to quantify our activities. Building on the London Benchmarking Group´s input-output-impact (IOI) method for measuring the effectiveness of corporate citizenship initiatives, we have analyzed selected projects to find out who they benefit. As part of this process, we have also aggregated our inputs across the Group and recorded the different objectives in detail.
This extensive pool of data gives us a comprehensive overview of the backgrounds, objectives and effectiveness of our environmental and community projects. Based on this information, we will revise our corporate citizenship strategy in 2017 and define new areas of focus in line with our TOGETHER – Strategy 2025. We will also, however, continue to prioritize a balance between large-scale transregional projects that address strategically important issues, and local projects that take local problems and stakeholder expectations into account.
A description of our organizational structure and the guidelines associated with our management approach to Corporate Social Responsibility can be found here.
Through some 200 projects around the globe, the Volkswagen Group is making a contribution to social mobility in the fields of education, diversity and health while at the same time promoting road safety, regional economic development, sports, and the arts. These projects can take on countless forms in order to meet different local needs and challenges. In India, our T5 was repurposed as a mobile health clinic in very short order; in Uitenhage, South Africa, we are helping young entrepreneurs to launch start-ups; and in China, we are running seminars and campaigns to raise awareness of child safety on roads. An overview of our many, varied projects, together with detailed descriptions of each project, can be found here.