Strategic Stakeholder Management

As an automobile manufacturer encompassing 12 brands and 120 production sites in 153 markets, we are confronted with a broad spectrum of requirements, expectations and attitudes on a daily basis. The enormous diversity of our interactions represents an enormous opportunity, because the relationships which our companies maintain with their stakeholders are invaluable to the work we do together. At the same time, this diversity of interests is also a challenge, because it can result in conflicting objectives.

Volkswagen Balances Stakeholder DemandsGRI G4-21, G4-24, G4-25, G4-27

Around the globe, we are confronted with a broad spectrum of stakeholder requirements, expectations and attitudes on a daily basis. The enormous diversity of our interactions is invaluable to the work we do. At the same time, this diversity of interests is also a challenge, because it can result in conflicting objectives.

Stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations with a legitimate interest in how the Volkswagen Group reaches its corporate decisions and in the implications of those decisions. Our customers and employees form the center of our stakeholder universe. Based on our regular contacts, we have identified twelve additional stakeholder groups surrounding this core, which we make no attempt to prioritize.

Volkswagen Group StakeholdersGRI G4-21, G4-24

Grafik: Stakeholder des Volkswagen Konzerns

Volkswagen Group Stakeholders

In the 2016 reporting year, our stakeholders took advantage of surveys and dialog events to communicate numerous expectations of the Volkswagen Group. We have summarized their suggestions and feedback, as well as our reactions to this input, for you here.

Stakeholder Suggestions and Volkswagen AG Responses

Topics Stakeholders Volkswagen AG
Sustainability management Integrate sustainability strategy and corporate strategy TOGETHER – Strategy 2025
-  Vision: Sustainable mobility
- Mission for sustainable growth: We offer tailor-made mobility solutions to our customers and serve their diverse needs with a portfolio of strong brands. We assume responsibility regarding the environment, safety and social issues. We act with integrity and build on reliability, quality and passion as the foundation for our work.
Integrity and compliance Place integrity and technological competence on equal footing - Creation of the position of Board Member for Integrity and Legal Affairs
- TOGETHER – Strategy 2025: Model for integrity
- Multilingual integrity program
Greenhouse-gas and pollutant emissions Close the gap between emissions in the lab and on the street - TOGETHER – Strategy 2025: Carbon footprint KPI
- Electrification
- Volkswagen welcomes the introduction of RDE and WLTP, as both testing methods will help close the gap between emissions measured in the laboratory and those generated under real-world driving conditions.
Sustainability communication Identify and communicate conflicting objectives - Shift sustainability magazine provides critical self-scrutiny and dialog
- Decision-making processes are informed by regular stakeholder surveys and dialog events
Corporate strategy KPIs for transformation into mobility services provider - Development of new KPIs in conjunction with
TOGETHER – Strategy 2025

Holistic Approach to Strategic Stakeholder ManagementGRI G4-21, G4-25, G4-26, G4-27

We have a strategic stakeholder management system in place to help the Volkswagen Group navigate the large numbers of diverse stakeholders and their needs, and ensure they are included in our business decisions. We will only be successful in the long term if we familiarize ourselves thoroughly with the interests, needs and expectations of our stakeholders and deal with them proactively. To successfully facilitate a dialog of equals, our stakeholder management system must meet the following criteria:

  • Systematically recording the expectations placed on Volkswagen
  • Productively sharing the knowledge of all parties involved
  • Openly addressing differing interests and potential areas of conflict
  • Jointly developing solutions to problems
  • Transparently making decisions

We believe that stakeholder management means fostering relationships with our stakeholders. This requires systematic and strategic planning, implementation and monitoring of our activities. To this end, in the 2016 reporting year we restructured and consolidated our stakeholder management system in line with a holistic approach.

Stakeholder Management at Volkswagen – a holistic ApproachGRI G4-21, G4-24, G4-25, G4-26, G4-27

Grafik: Stakeholder-Management at Volkswagen – a holistic Approach

Stakeholder-Management at Volkswagen

  • Planning and Governance: Our brands and divisions are responsible for maintaining direct contact with our stakeholders. We bring these processes together under one roof at Group level, ensuring that information is shared between Group, brands and regions, establishing clear guidelines for stakeholder management, and coordinating the activities of Group sustainability officers (sustainability management)
  • Documentation and Communication: Our Sustainability Report is our primary medium for documentation. Shift, our sustainability magazine, supplements this report with critical self-scrutiny and forward-looking perspectives. We regularly provide additional information on current projects in press releases and social media. For internal communications, we also use our online community Group Connect, several magazines and a short messaging service. We employ the latter to send out weekly information on current topics and issues in two languages. The Group Sustainability Council has its own newsletter. 
  • Standardization: Our stakeholder management is guided by the standards established by many different levels of regulation (policies). The most important policies include the AccountAbility 1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard and the latest generation of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI Standards). We also remain committed to the objectives and principles of sustainable development. 
  • Consultation: An overview of our programs and initiatives for dialog and interaction can be found here. In the reporting year, the primary forums for direct, face-to-face discussions were the Audi Stakeholder Forum in Brussels, the Scania Sustainable Transport Forum in Paris, and the Stakeholder Panel dialog event held by Volkswagen AG in Hanover. Information received from NGOs, such as a recent study conducted by terre des hommes that made us aware of issues surrounding the production of mica in India, can also lead us to initiate discussions and examine opportunities for cooperation. 
  • Partnerships: At the Group level, our work with selected stakeholders takes the form of strategic partnerships. In the reporting year, this included our cooperation with the German Red Cross (DRK) and Kiron. Since 1998, the Volkswagen Group Works Council has been successfully collaborating with terre des hommes, a children's and young people’s charity, in the "One hour for the future" campaign. Our memberships provide an additional format for cooperation with our stakeholders. A list of our current memberships can be found here
  • Participation: Stakeholder relations are not a one-way street. We see our stakeholders as equal partners, and involve them in our decision-making processes. In addition to the strong culture of co-determination at Volkswagen, which played a role in the development of our Social Charter and Charter on Labour Relations, the activities of our Group Sustainability Council should also be mentioned here.
  • Evaluation: Stakeholder management begins with the question of stakeholder needs and ends with systematic monitoring of results. Each year, we collect feedback from our stakeholders through our Stakeholder Panel and our comprehensive stakeholder surveys. The results of our 2016 reputation study, which we used to obtain a systematic picture of the opinions and expectations of our stakeholders, can be found here. In addition, three dissertation projects are currently examining suggestions for the further development of our stakeholder management approach. An overview of these projects can be found here.

“Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” is one of the United Nation’s goals for sustainable development.