Advancing Women and Diversity

As we move towards being top employer in the automotive sector, we want to make use of the potential that our diverse workforce represents. To mobilize this potential, we are explicitly advancing women, improving the scope for combining work and family, and making full use of the diversity existing within the Group.

Recruiting and Developing Talented Women

The Volkswagen Group is aiming to have 30% women at all levels of the management hierarchy in Germany in the long term. In line with this, the proportion of women in management within the Volkswagen Group in Germany rose from 9.3% in 2012 to 9.8% in 2013. The increased proportion of qualified women joining the Company will enable us steadily to lift the proportion of female executives over the coming years.

Our aim: 30% women at all levels of the management hierarchy.

Girls’ Day 2013 at the Wolfsburg plant – girls are showing unprecedented interest in Germany’s most attractive employer.

“Woman Experience Days”: young female engineers get to know Volkswagen at first hand and try out the Touareg.

Volkswagen recruits the best graduates in their cohort in the skills areas it needs and develops them systematically. As a starting point, we take the proportion of female graduates in each discipline, so that, for example, around 10% of all the mechanical engineers we recruit should be women. For electrical engineers, the proportion is also 10%, rising to 50% in business areas. When all the disciplines relevant to Volkswagen’s work are averaged out, these differentiated quotas produce a recruitment target of at least 30% female graduates. In 2013, around 30% of graduate recruits at Volkswagen AG were female.
Women accounted for 27.4% of all apprentices in 2013 and for 21.4% of apprentices in industrial or technical professions. This means that the Volkswagen Group in Germany has one of the highest proportions of female apprentices of any automotive company in the country. Volkswagen is keen to increase the proportion to nearly 30%, however, and is actively seeking to recruit talented women. The tools it is using include special information days on industrial or technical vocational education and training at Volkswagen and hands-on experience days for young women. For a number of years, the Volkswagen, Audi, MAN and Porsche brands have taken part in a national initiative, “Girls’ Day”, and in 2013, they offered 2,370 female school students in Germany a practical insight into the careers offered by the automotive industry.
In 2012, Volkswagen began collaborating with universities to offer female students with the Abitur – Germany’s school-leaving examination – a six-month internship. Known as the “Lower Saxony Technikum”, this internship is designed to make technology more attractive to young women and encourage them to take up courses in such areas as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, vehicle technology, and mechatronics. 22 of the 24 young women who took part in 2012 went on to study for a degree in a technical area in 2013. In 2013, 25 young women completed the “Lower Saxony Technikum”.
Volkswagen forges links with female students early in their academic careers. Its “Woman Experience Day”, launched in 2012, is aimed at female students and graduates in engineering subjects. Participants spend a day and a half with Volkswagen and are able to talk to experienced female engineers and PM experts. The Company has so far run seven “Woman Experience Days”, offering more than 120 young women an insight into the wide variety of career opportunities the Company can offer them.

A further step on the way to becoming a family-friendly employer is the ongoing expansion of tailored childcare provision.

27.4% of all apprentices across the Group in 2013 were women.

Since 2004, the Company has been running the “Woman DrivING Award”, a competition aimed at top female engineers. The competition is held across Germany every two years and is designed to encourage young female graduates into employment in technical areas, where they can contribute to designing and producing the cars of tomorrow.  34
Volkswagen AG also offers a mentoring program. Having been through 21 cycles with almost 400 female participants, it is a recognized development program within the Group for bringing on female specialists and managers. 40 women took part in the Volkswagen AG mentoring program in 2013 and received support in their move into management.
Volkswagen is also aiming to increase the proportion of skilled female workers and female Meister to 10%. In 2013, 30 women within Volkswagen AG benefited from a tailored mentoring program designed to help them progress to Meister grade.
Audi, too, is aiming to recruit talented women, for example through careers guidance events targeting female school students and the “CareerDay Women” initiative for young women studying technical subjects. To boost the proportion of women in management positions, the “Sie und Audi” (Women and Audi – You and Audi) initiative offers a range of programs aimed specifically at advancing women to leadership or junior management roles.
Since 2001, Porsche has been using the “Femtec.Network” platform as a targeted tool for recruiting highly skilled female engineers. The platform is a collaboration between eleven technology companies, with nine technical universities joining the scheme in January 2014. The aim is to foster women studying engineering and science subjects.

Combining Work and Family

As well as recruiting and advancing talented women, Volkswagen is working continually to improve employees’ ability to combine work and family responsibilities. These include:

  • substantial flexibility in relation to hours of work
  • an extensive range of part-time and shiftworking arrangements
  • a return to work at the same level after parental leave
  • childcare either within or near the company premises.

Measures such as teleworking and new information and communications technologies are also helping employees to find the solution to combining work and family responsibilities that suits them best.
To maintain contact with employees on parental leave and to ensure a smooth return to work at the same level, Volkswagen offers work options during parental leave, get-togethers for employees on parental leave, and seminars. Since 1995, the Company has been running “Family Management and Career” seminars at the Wolfsburg plant, while Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles offers similar provision. All employees on parental leave are invited in to the Company six months before they are due to return to work to discuss how they want to manage their working life and future career and obtain information and advice on the range of childcare provision available. At the same time, they are also briefed on the statutory provisions and Company arrangements for parental leave and returning to work.
A further step on the way to becoming a family-friendly employer is the ongoing expansion of tailored childcare provision. From 2013, childcare during school holidays is now available at all Volkswagen AG sites following the introduction of such provision at Volkswagen Financial Services AG and AUDI AG, which have been running schemes since 2008 and 2011 respectively. Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH and Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH also rolled out holiday childcare provision in 2013.
The Volkswagen Group has found it beneficial to establish childcare facilities within or near the Company. For example, MAN offers company childcare facilities at its Munich and Augsburg locations. Volkswagen Financial Services AG’s “Frech Daxe” nursery in Braunschweig is one of Germany’s largest company nurseries, while Volkswagen Group of America has been offering childcare provision at its Chattanooga (USA) plant since 2012.
Volkswagen AG has a wide range of provision for time off to help its employees care for close family members. Employees have a right to take up to ten working days’ leave at short notice to organize appropriate care or to make other arrangements. They may also take up to six months’ part-time or full-time leave to fulfill their caring responsibilities.
Volkswagen is particularly flexible in its commitment to reemploying workers who take extended leave. For the past 20 years or so, employees have been able to request up to eight years’ leave of absence without having to give reasons and have a guaranteed right to re-employment on their former terms and conditions.


People with disabilities made up 7.18% of the total workforce of Volkswagen AG in 2013 – once again, well above the statutory quota. 55% of all employees with disabilities worked in production and 45% in the non-production sector. The Company is particularly committed to helping employees with disabilities. When new buildings are constructed or existing ones are refurbished, emphasis is placed on creating accessible workstations, staff canteens, and toilets and washrooms. A Company-wide working group on inclusion is also focusing on establishing a corporate culture of inclusion; the Company and the Works Council are working together on ways to boost inclusion. This includes qualification and awareness-raising for managers and PM experts and ensuring that the application process is accessible to candidates with disabilities.
Volkswagen is also helping to boost employment for people with severe disabilities outside the Company: during the reporting year, it placed orders worth more than €22.5 million with workshops employing people with disabilities.
The Company is also particularly committed to its performance-impaired employees outside Germany. An example here is the six sheltered workshops that employ more than 200 people with disabilities at the ŠKODA production plants in the Czech Republic. Working closely with KOVO, the local trade union, ŠKODA continues to use these facilities to create new employment prospects for employees whose health is impaired. The “New Horizon“ program being run by MAN Latin America since 2011 offers young people with disabilities a chance to work within the Company, benefit from further training measures and qualify for a grant for degree-level study on the same terms as able-bodied employees. In the 2013 financial year, 22 young women and men took part in “New Horizon”.

Inclusion Award 2013

Mobility aids boost independence: with manual controls, relocated accelerators, indicators and wiper controls, and steering wheels with rotary knobs, Volkswagen has for many years been helping to give people with disabilities some of their independence back.

International Diversity

The Volkswagen Group is a complex global undertaking with 106 manufacturing plants across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. Volkswagen vehicles are sold in 153 countries and in 2013, Volkswagen AG alone employed nationals of 104 countries. The Company is deeply committed to promoting peaceful cooperation between diverse traditions and cultures.

Equal Opportunities

Volkswagen is committed to respect, tolerance and cosmopolitanism. Treating each other with respect and working together means valuing each individual’s personality. Volkswagen guarantees equal opportunity and equal treatment irrespective of ethnicity, skin color, gender, disability, ideology, faith, nationality, sexual orientation, social background or political conviction, provided this is based on democratic principles and tolerance towards those who hold different views. The Volkswagen Group’s Code of Conduct underpins this aspiration across the Group, and every employee and member of an executive body has responsibility under the Code for ensuring that individuals work together in partnership.
The fact is, however, that discrimination happens in all parts of society. Openness and transparency, collegiality, and civil courage have proved the best tools with which to combat it, so every employee is under an obligation to notify any breach of the Code without delay. If an employee feels he or she is being discriminated against, the Company meets the statutory provisions for whistle-blowing but also provides access to trained personnel to support and advise the individual concerned. At the employee’s request, meetings can be organized with all parties to resolve the situation, and this system has proved successful in resolving many disputes before they ever reached the formal complaint stage. If there is a major breach of the Code of Conduct, the Company may take appropriate action against an individual who is acting in a discriminatory way; sanctions range from a formal warning or relocation to dismissal.
At the initiative of the Works Council, these rights and obligations were laid down in 1996 in the “Cooperative Conduct at the Workplace” works agreement for all Volkswagen AG employees and sites. The agreement was revised in 2007, and every new employee receives a copy or a briefing when they are appointed.