Letter to our stakeholder
Dear Readers and Colleagues,
These are not normal times for Volkswagen. You can even sense this in the timing of our reports – our sustainability report for 2015 only appeared toward the end of November 2016.
But now we are back on schedule, so to speak. We are pleased to present our report for 2016 in good time for our annual general meeting. However, this does not mean that everything is back to normal at our Company. There is no question that in terms of corporate responsibility, dealing with the repercussions of the diesel crisis is still one of our top priorities. Each of the key developments over the past 12 months has been given its own dedicated chapter in this report.
“This makes it all the more essential for us to establish a solid framework of values, in the form of our renewed commitment to sustainable, responsible business practices.”
Corporate responsibility is also about running our business prudently and successfully. Together with our entire workforce, we can be proud that in an extremely challenging year, we met and exceeded our operational objectives. At the same time, in mid-2016, we introduced our TOGETHER – Strategy 2025 program. This represents our vision for the future, guiding our actions, defining specific targets and detailing how we should achieve them. We intend to become a world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. Low-emission drive technologies; smart mobility services; innovative, safe solutions for autonomous driving – these are among the ambitious plans we are working on right now as we look ahead to the future. You will find more details in this report.
We are undergoing a profound and challenging – yet at the same time, extraordinarily exciting – transformation. This in turn poses an important question: how do we want to work together in the future? This is one of the issues addressed in our TOGETHER strategy, in which we launch a transformation of our corporate culture that may be unique in the history of Volkswagen. This will result in flatter hierarchies, decentralized decision-making and an open, collaborative style of working that explicitly encourages constructive criticism, while simultaneously encouraging all our employees to think and act like responsible entrepreneurs. As we pursue this radical transformation, our managers bear special responsibility – they must lead by example and work closely with their teams to bring about this sweeping cultural change.
When we talk about openness, we also mean that we intend to pay even greater attention to how our stakeholders, as well as outside experts, view our work. With this aim in mind, we set up our Group Sustainability Council in late 2016. Nine respected experts from the worlds of politics, research and NGOs are now advising us on issues such as sustainable mobility, environmental protection and the future of work. The council has already started its activities and is in the process of developing its first projects. We stay in close contact with council members and look forward to the many ideas they will generate.
“We are undergoing a profound and challenging – yet at the same time, extraordinarily exciting – transformation.”
Over the last year, Volkswagen also substantially extended the Company’s voluntary commitment to behave ethically and with integrity. One outcome of this was the creation of a new position on our Board of Management. Hiltrud Werner, an outstanding expert and former head of Group Internal Audit, has taken on the challenging role of Board Member for Integrity and Legal Affairs following the departure of Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt.
The Volkswagen Group is changing, just as the automotive industry as a whole is changing. As we see it, developments over the next 10 years will be even more far-reaching than the changes we have seen in the last 100 years. This makes it all the more essential for us to establish a solid framework of values, in the form of our renewed commitment to sustainable, responsible business practices.
“Low-emission drive technologies; smart mobility services; innovative, safe solutions for autonomous driving – these are among the ambitious plans we are working on right now as we look ahead to the future.”
This report is an expression of this commitment. In a spirit of transparency, accountability and comparability, the statements, figures and data included in this report follow the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The report also represents our Communication on Progress under the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).
We look forward to receiving your suggestions and feedback,