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 all stages of the value chain is our complexity, with 12 brands, more than 625,000 employees and 120 production sites. In line with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code, we practice Group-wide sustainability coordination and forward-looking risk management, and rely on a clear framework for the future-oriented handling of environmental issues, responsibility toward 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.

Coordination of SustainabilityGRI G4-26

Sustainability has top priority at the Volkswagen Group. We have established a clear structure for coordinating sustainability activities, including internal and external sustainability committees.

Volkswagen Sustainability Organization G4-26

Grafik: Volkswagen Sustainability Organization

Our internal sustainability coordination reflects the inseparability of our corporate and sustainability strategies. We firmly believe that a company can only be successful in the long term if its corporate activities remain in balance with the environment and society. This is why at Volkswagen, sustainability is a management issue. In its function as our Sustainability Board, in 2016, the Group Board of Management under the leadership of CEO Matthias Müller regularly worked on strategic questions of holistic sustainability management, encompassing issues of environmental as well as social responsibility.

The Group Board of Management is regularly informed by the Corporate Sustainability Steering Committee on issues related to sustainability and corporate responsibility. The steering committee includes top managers from central Group business areas and representatives of the Group Works Council and the brands. Its tasks include defining strategic sustainability goals and position statements, identifying key action areas, and approving the sustainability report. Indicators are used to monitor the extent to which these sustainability goals are being met. The steering committee meets regularly under the leadership of the external affairs and sustainability function.

The sustainability office supports the steering committee. Its duties include coordinating all sustainability-related activities within the Group and the brands. Relevant economic, environmental and social issues are integrated into the ongoing development of the Group’s sustainability strategy. As part of the environmental and socio-political regulatory process, we maintain on ongoing dialog with policymakers with the aim of providing information and advice and learning from each other. Stakeholder expectations from the brands and regions are comprehensively discussed in the sustainability office. The office also handles the monitoring and coordination of sustainability ratings, the results of which increasingly impact on companies’ attractiveness to investors. And finally, it is responsible for drawing up the sustainability report and coordinating the Sustainability Council and its meetings.

At divisional level, the CSR project team fosters a regular exchange of information on current projects between the various sustainability experts within the Volkswagen Group. In addition, other project teams work across business areas on topics such as reporting, stakeholder management and sustainability in supplier relations. These coordination and working structures have also been established across the brands and are subject to ongoing development. 

With the aim of continuously improving our sustainability concept and living up to the expectations of our stakeholders, the Volkswagen Group has set up two external committees, the Sustainability Council and the Stakeholder Panel, to independently advise the Group. 

Appointed in 2016, the international Sustainability Council is made up of renowned experts from the scientific community, government and society. Council members regularly consult with the Board of Management, senior managers and employee representatives. The council’s role is to keep a watchful, critical eye on developments within the Company and in society. The Sustainability Council is authorized to proactively propose topics and implement projects subject to prior agreement. More detailed information on the council’s members and activities can be found here.

In cooperation with the Institute for Market, Environment and Society (imug), we set up a Stakeholder Panel that has kept track of our sustainability activities, especially those covered in our sustainability reporting, for the past 20 years and provided a critical commentary. The panel includes some 100 national and international stakeholders from government, academia and research, the financial markets, and civil society. Detailed interviews are conducted and the findings applied to sharpen our understanding of the expectations of our external stakeholders. This helps us ask the necessary critical questions and systematically optimize our sustainability management and reporting to make them more effective.

Functions and Composition of the Management Bodies

The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, which is has nine members, is the ultimate body responsible for managing the Group. Each 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. The Supervisory Board, which appoints, monitors and advises the Board of Management, is consulted directly on decisions that are of material significance for the Company. The composition of the Supervisory Board complies with the Gesetz für die gleichberechtigte Teilhabe von Frauen und Männern an Führungspositionen in der Privatwirtschaft und im öffentlichen Dienst (FührposGleichberG – Act on the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and Public Sectors), which specifies a statutory quota of at least 30% women and at least 30% men. Shareholder and employee representatives have resolved that each side shall meet this quota separately. 

Guidelines and Principles

Our business practices are in line with the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code, and we coordinate sustainability across the Group. This reflects our conviction that stable, long-term business based on ethical criteria is a prerequisite for acting in an environment-friendly way and playing a responsible part in shaping the future of people within the Group and in society at large. 

Voluntary undertakings and principles that apply across the Group form the basis and backbone of our sustainability management. These include our Model of Sustainable Development, our stakeholder guidelines and our corporate guidelines. 

Model of Sustainable Development

The Model of Sustainable Development, which Volkswagen adopted in 2002 to mark the UN World Summit in South Africa, build a bridge between our traditions and our future while providing a framework for sustainable corporate policy with three key elements:

  • a lasting balance between economic, ecological and social systems and the aim for a long-term balance of divergent interests,
  • responsibility for our own actions at regional, national and global level,
  • transparent communications and fair cooperation.

Stakeholder Guidelines

Content Date Type
UN Declaration of Human Rights Dec. 10, 1948 Download PDF, 6 pages, 38.12 KB
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Dec. 19, 1966 Download PDF, 10 pages, 56.06 KB
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Dec. 19, 1966 Download PDF, 25 pages, 79.05 KB
ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Nov. 1, 1977 Download PDF, 37 pages, 628.19 KB
“Agenda 21” on sustainable development (Rio 1992) June 1, 1992 Download PDF, 361 pages, 3.32 MB
OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Dec. 17, 1997 Download PDF, 12 pages, 126.67 KB
ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work June 18, 1998 Download PDF, 8 pages, 36.1 KB
UN Global Compact – 10 Principles June 1, 1999 Download PDF, 1 pages, 70.1 KB
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms June 1, 2010 Download PDF, 31 pages, 1.26 KB
OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises May 25, 2011 Download PDF, 106 pages, 1.13 MB
German Corporate Governance Code (DCGK) May 5, 2015 Download PDF, 20 pages, 206.56 KB
EITI Principles & Standard (English) Feb. 23, 2016 Download PDF, 64 pages, 3.24 MB
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (English) June 1, 2016 Download PDF, 4 pages, 517.33 KB
German Sustainability Code (DNK) June 1, 2016 Download PDF, 19 pages, 2.04 MB

In addition, we are committed to the United Nations Global Compact, and since 2002 have remained dedicated 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. Until the diesel crisis has finally been resolved, we have agreed that the Volkswagen Group’s membership should be suspended.

Corporate Guidelines

Inhalt Datum Typ
Co-operative Conduct at the Workplace Jan. 1, 2007 Download PDF, 4 pages, 1.79 MB
Group Environmental Principles governing Products Dec. 1, 2008 Download PDF, 1 page, 518.04 KB
Mission Statement on Biodiversity Dec. 31, 2008 Download PDF, 3 pages, 26.44 KB
Charter on Labor Relations Oct. 29, 2009 Download PDF, 8 pages, 64.45 KB
Group Environmental Policy June 1, 2010 Download PDF, 1 pages, 12.63 KB
Group Occupational Safety Policy Dec. 31, 2010 Download PDF, 2 pages, 9.36 KB
Social Charter May 11, 2012 Download PDF, 3 pages, 112.66 KB
Charter on Temporary Work Nov. 30, 2012 Download PDF, 8 pages, 150.89 KB
Group Environmental Principles governing Locations/Production June 1, 2012 Download PDF, 30 pages, 1.29 MB
Sustainability in Supplier Relations Dec. 31, 2014 Download PDF, 20 pages, 849.65 KB
Code of Conduct Sept. 1, 2015 Download PDF, 24 pages, 360.67 KB
Charter on Vocational Education and Training June 5, 2015 Download PDF, 5 pages, 28.84 KB
Principles and Guidelines for Political Lobbying Aug. 31, 2016 Download PDF, 7 pages, 398.47 KB
Policy on Taxation and Customs Duties: Summary Dec. 31, 2015 Download PDF, 1 page, 308.58 KB
Mission Statement on Biodiversity Dec. 31, 2015 Download PDF, 7 pages, 3.01 MB
Policy on Conflict Resources Dec. 31, 2016 Download PDF, 1 page, 638.56 KB
Code of Conduct for Business Partners April 30, 2016 Download PDF, 11 pages, 276.49 KB
Anti-Corruption Guidelines Jan. 31, 2016 Download PDF, 36 pages, 1.58 MB