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Volkswagen Group Diversity Management

As part of our DNA, we focus on diversity when it comes to cultural change: “We live diversity”. The task of diversity management is to sensitize employees to the topic and to promote a culture in which diversity is a matter of course and visible in the company. Our conviction: diversity is no longer merely a soft success factor, but business-relevant added value and essential for the transformation of our group - worldwide.

We aim to be the leading supplier of sustainable mobility in the world. To achieve this, we need people who are diverse and think diversely, and who drive the transformation. So, every day we are working towards creating an ideal working environment in which our employees can apply their talent and skills. Diversity is not only part of the corporate principles, the management model and the code of conduct, it is also firmly anchored in our Group strategy 2030 "NEW AUTO - Mobility for Generations to Come". Diversity is essential for corporate success, required by law, and integral to our guidelines and processes.

If the right person is in the right position in the right place at the right time - regardless of their gender, cultural background, sexual orientation or other diversity dimensions – then we can say that we have achieved our goal. As such, our diversity strategy takes a holistic approach: we have established minimum standards around the world, which we track using a diversity index. We are committed to ensuring that our HR processes are fair and without prejudice. We offer training for management and employees. And we contribute to remaining an attractive employer for future generations by defining and offering measures for the management level and the workforce that make the issues of diversity and inclusion visible.

Diversity is a top priority for us!

“I am convinced that teams that include women are better teams.”

Dr. Herbert Diess Chairman of the board of directors at Volkswagen AG

“The best results are achieved when people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and nationalities work together on an equal footing.”

Gunnar Kilian Board Member for Human Resources at Volkswagen AG

“A variety of experiences, perspectives and other backgrounds are necessary if organizations want to make positive use of the rapid changes that are currently shaping our entire industry and society.”

Elke Heitmüller Head of Diversity Management

Our understanding of diversity

Diversity is the conscious handling of diversity in society and in the company. As an organizational and socio-political concept, it stands for an appreciative, conscious and respectful handling of diversity and individuality.

The diversity of a person is made up of many dimensions. According to the definition in the German Diversity Charter, of which we have been a signatory since 2007, these include the “internal dimensions”, which are almost unchangeable, such as age, gender and sexual orientation (inner circle), and “external dimensions”, such as income and habits (middle circle). The internal and external dimensions are encapsulated by the organizational dimensions such as function, work content and work environment. At the core is the personality of the person.

Diversity is a crucial success factor. It ensures broader knowledge, promotes creativity and innovation. A diverse workforce also reflects the diversity of our customers and their needs. Diversity therefore allows us to offer tailor-made products - the basis of our future existence.

Diversity therefore not only refers to obvious characteristics, but can also mean employing an employee with a qualification that is atypical for the specialist area.

We think diversity in all directions. It is becoming increasingly important in the course of globalization and demographic change: the coming generations, our employees of the future, demand an inclusive, tolerant and diverse environment - a company that takes responsibility and acts sustainably. In order to be economically successful with talents, companies are called upon to live diversity and inclusion, and to incorporate them as integral elements of their principles and strategy.

Psychological safety creates inclusion. An atmosphere characterized by psychological safety forms the basis for expressing one's own opinion openly, since different opinions are respected and discussed. Errors are seen as a learning process and are part of everyday work. It is important to learn from mistakes and weaknesses, and to find solutions instead of looking for someone to blame. Individual strengths, talents and abilities are valued.

Many recent studies confirm that companies with a high degree of diversity and inclusion have happier employees and add more value and are more innovative than companies in which neither factor is part of the value system. In the “Diversity Wins @ Volkswagen” leadership qualification, which is mandatory throughout the Group, this understanding is actively promoted and awareness of diversity and inclusion is raised.

Our definition of diversity

We live diversity in terms of age, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation and are actively committed to inclusion.

Diversity of mindsets, competencies and background experiences enables creativity, innovation, dynamism and resilience.

We create an environment that promotes the individuality of each individual in the interests of the company.

The five pillars of the diversity vision

Diversity at Volkswagen is a matter of course and becomes an (added) value through action:

  1. Diversity strengthens customer orientation and innovation!

    Diversity is the mirror of our customers. Innovative mobility concepts are our result.

  2. Diversity focuses on talents and experiences!

    We fill every position with the right person at the right time in the right diversity of teams.

  3. Leadership lives diversity!

    Our managers use the creative potential of diverse talents for our corporate goals.

  4. Diversity creates an equal opportunity environment!

    We are aware of our social responsibility and offer diversity a “home”.

  5. Diversity promotes employer attractiveness!

    Individual exchange across borders attracts (inter) national experts and binds them.

Our diversity goals

  • Measurable increase in diversity using the mood barometer and Group diversity index.
  • Concentration on dimensions such as gender and internationality gives way to a focus on talent and experience (i.e. targeted quotas until a critical mass is reached).
  • (HR) processes are consistently transparent and set up for equal opportunities.
  • Brands, regions, companies, locations and departments live and manage diversity according to their business mandate.
  • Diversity is reflected in all of our appearances, publications and advertising.

In order to implement the overarching corporate principle “We live diversity”, Volkswagen is relying on three levers:

  • Leadership - controlling diversity

    (Top) management takes measures like the integration of diversity into the corporate strategy, which are aimed at everyone and lay the foundation for the implementation of diversity.

  • Company - living diversity

    Face-to-face or virtual training courses for the workforce on the importance of diversity and inclusion, and on the benefits of personal contribution to achieving the approaches.

  • Workforce - increase diversity

    Anchoring diversity in organizational structures and core processes, such as management development and mentoring programs, in order to achieve the desired behavior and create a robust and inclusive culture.

The goal: We want to anchor an inclusive culture in our company and live it in all its facets.

Diversity Wins @ Volkswagen – A global qualification initiative to sensitize global managers to diversity and inclusion

“Diversity Wins” is a group-wide, mandatory awareness-raising program for managers. The aim is to enable managers at all levels to recognize new perspectives and competencies in their teams and thus to promote more efficient and innovative cooperation. Interactive exercises and the collaborative development of measures will motivate them to integrate inclusive behavior into everyday management. This should reduce the influence of unconscious prejudices and stereotypes in important decision-making situations in the long term. The training course is adapted locally according to the requirements of the brands and companies, and rolled out using a multiplier principle. A network of diversity managers and selected employees from all areas of the company is responsible for carrying out the training.

The Diversity Wins @ Volkswagen leadership program aims at four building blocks:

  1. Create understanding of why diversity and inclusion are important for our Group.
  2. Analyze which challenges (e.g. blind spots and unconscious bias) we encounter on the way to greater diversity.
  3. Develop approaches on how we can sustainably shape a diverse and inclusive culture.
  4. Sharpen awareness of the role of managers and what specific activities are required for this.
  • Work-life balance program

    We offer our employees a wide range of tools and programs to help them combine their work and private life. The aim is to enable a balanced relationship between professional requirements and private challenges. A company agreement was concluded for this purpose, which defines this on the basis of different professional and life phases in five fields of action, because personal life and professional development enrich each another:

    • Guidelines on working time flexibility (e.g. job sharing and flexible working part-time),
    • Educational support programs for parents
    • On-site childcare and emergency childcare
    • Networks such as "Fathers at Volkswagen"
    • Information offers for parents-to-be, or on caring for relatives.
  • “WE DRIVE PROUD” – The Volkswagen LGBTIQ*-and-friends-network

    The Volkswagen LGBTIQ*-and-friends-network “WE DRIVE PROUD” is an association of employees - lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersexual, queer, and heterosexual allies - who share the same mindset and develop, shape and implement ideas for an inclusive corporate culture. The network was founded in 2019 with the support of our Board of Management and now has over 300 members. These members are connected via an internal social network platform, which employees of all brands and companies can access, and meet regularly on site or virtually to organize events, such as participation in the Christopher Street Day Pride Berlin.

  • Supporting female talents and leaders

    We are optimizing our existing Modular Mentoring Program (MMM) with a focus on Germany, and are adapting it to changing challenges. Female and male talents identified for the management development process are given the opportunity to attend modules of the modular mentoring program. The focus is on the targeted strengthening of women with high potential in a male-dominated environment. The medium-term goal is to make all managers aware of the need to develop female talent on all levels of the hierarchy with equal opportunities.

    The program offers the departments support in achieving the target for the share of women and in communicating female role models. In order to recruit men as supporters, they can also take part in certain modules. The formats of the modular mentoring program include workshops, management seminars, dialogue events and the development of the mentor-mentee tandem relationship.

    We also offer the “Compass” program to provide targeted support to women with high potential in their decision to pursue a management career. It addresses women of the brands and companies in the group who are in the orientation phase of management development.

  • Gender diversity: Gender equality and internationalization

    We make diversity measurable. For this purpose, figures, data and facts are collected, which are measured with a key performance indicator – the diversity index. The diversity index is a worldwide minimum standard that we pursue and that, as a key control parameter, evaluates the achievement of goals in increasing the proportion of women in management and the degree of internationalization in top management.

    The diversity index is part of the HR strategy and applies to our entire group. We use this index to measure and control the degree of implementation of our goals. These goals were defined by the Group's Board of Management and apply to the entire organization. Furthermore, we are subject to German jurisdiction and, with the law on equal participation of women and men in management positions, pursue special goals for the share of women in our group.

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