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08-05-2018 | Companies + Institutions | News | Article

Diess Calls for Change in Volkswagen’s Culture

Author:
Patrick Schäfer

Speaking at the annual general meeting, VW CEO Herbert Diess announces his intent to step up the pace of Volkswagen’s transformation, but that this could succeed only through a cultural change.

The new CEO thinks the Volkswagen Group is generally on the right path. However, there is still a long way to go in reaching the “Strategy 2025” goals. "The crucial years in our transformation have yet to come", says Diess. A cultural change at VW would be crucial in order to accelerate the Group’s realignment, emphasised the CEO: "In this regard, Volkswagen has to become more honest, more open, and more truthful. In other words: an upstanding corporate citizen". He points out that there recently had been too many instances of unethical conduct and non-compliance at Volkswagen. It is his intention to define a clear moral compass for the Board of Management to follow as a matter of top priority. "We need robust structures, processes and programs. But, most importantly, we must act accordingly, too."

The "Together4Integrity" programme was launched to achieve this goal. Amongst other things, it should strengthen the compliance organisation by aligning supplier relationships more closely with its principles. The whistle-blower system should be expanded as well. Diess commits himself and his entire leadership team to promoting corporate conduct that is not only legally but also ethically beyond reproach. "As managers, we are role models for our employees. Regardless of our level in the hierarchy, we have to be trustworthy, honest, and reliable." A "culture of constructive dissent" should penalise misconduct and then communicate this transparently. Compliance and integrity should be accorded the same importance in the Group as vehicle development, production, or sales. 

Volkswagen leadership structure should become leaner

The new brand boss also announced his management restructuring plan at Volkswagen upon taking office. Diess wants the VW Group to operate more quickly, systematically and efficiently in future. "In other words, we must transform the Group from a slow and somewhat cumbersome supertanker into a powerful fleet of speedboats". This is to be achieved through creating a multi-brand strategy and distributing coordination tasks in the Group amongst more people. Volkswagen’s new motto is therefore: "A lean Group drives strong brands".

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