REPORTING AND ISSUES MANAGEMENT
Group-wide sustainability reporting plays a central role in the context of strategic development, because it creates internal transparency, bundles topics and facilitates coordination. But of course it also has a substantial part to play in terms of external presentation. For example, the Group Sustainability Report with its summary of progress builds a bridge to society, forming the basis for dialogue, understanding and further progress. In May 2013 the Group Sustainability Report, which follows the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the associated Internet presence (microsite) were confirmed by the Group Board of Management as the Group’s central reporting platform for sustainability and corporate responsibility.
Status within the Group
The Audi, MAN, Porsche, Scania and ŠKODA brands prepare their own GRI-based sustainability reports. While the other brands and companies engage in target-group oriented communication on the subject, they do not produce a systematic GRI report of their own. For the present sustainability report, a company software tool was used for the first time to gather and document facts and figures. It is to be developed and expanded in future to support reporting and management within the Group. The existing microsite is also to be developed into a closely dovetailed sustainability site for the Group and its brands.
The Volkswagen Group uses a number of instruments to acquire the many topics and goals. From future research via stakeholder dialogue to our internal environment radar, they supply us with important information that is used in developing our strategy and in our reporting. In late 2013 we used the existing materiality matrix and the results of the various stakeholder surveys by the brands and companies to identify important recurring topics. In addition to the customer survey for the Volkswagen brand, which covered answers from some 120,000 respondents, these included the broad stakeholder surveys for the Audi, MAN and Porsche brands as well as Volkswagen Financial Services. Together these surveys reach out to more than 6,000 respondents, with response rates of up to 40%.
We are of course well aware that this is not yet a consistent and systematic process taking equal account of all brands and companies. It was, however, adequate for identifying the material topics. In assessing the topics as set out in the Group materiality matrix, we take the following as our three central criteria:
- stakeholder expectations,
- the significance for the Company and
- the extent to which the Company can influence the topic.
Resource-efficient products and production were rated much more important than in 2012.
Our Understanding of the Material Topics
The materiality analysis 2013 primarily involved arriving at more precise definitions of topics in line with the Group strategy for 2018. The biggest shift was seen in “resource-efficient products and production”, which our internal experts rated several degrees more important for the Company than in 2012. The importance of other topics remained more or less constant. What do they mean for us?
- Employer attractiveness and employment: Stands for the way industry makes a substantial contribution to society by creating and offering jobs, and for everything that goes to make up an attractive employer – training, involvement, health, occupational safety, ergonomics and concepts for responding to demographic change.
- Environmental and climate protection: We take this to mean overarching activities and concepts, such as our environmental management system, or mutual knowledge transfer on such topics, which help to improve the Group’s environmental protection and climate response.
- Economic stability: For us, this means more than just sales and profits. It also includes aspects like local sourcing, which seeks to ensure a broad and balanced supplier base, safeguarding against capital market risks, and forward-looking management activities.
- Customer satisfaction: Goes beyond satisfaction with our products and includes not only evaluation of our service and our dealer networks, but also all aspects of practiced product responsibility and quality assurance. It also includes our ability to speedily identify new needs in the various markets and translate them into solutions.
- Resource-efficient products and production: For us this means making efficient and sparing use of resources over the entire life cycle. The topic embraces a whole bundle of concepts ranging from product development, through purchasing and production, to the product use phase.
Our understanding of all the topics in the materiality matrix can be found on the Internet. 15
MATERIALITY ANALYSIS: PROCEDURE IN THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP
MATERIALITY MATRIX: TOPICS FOR THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP
Minimizing noise emissions as part of an integrated, eco-friendly transport concept
Optimizing recycling concepts as part of efficient material flow management
Protection of biological diversity, not least along the value chain, minimizing land take, use of natural resources, nature conservation and protection of endangered species, eco-system activities such as compensation areas, afforestation, funding of research
Highest safety standards for vehicle occupants and other road users
Recruiting and developing talented women, combining career and family, inclusion, international diversity
Engagement for regions and for education, volunteering and corporate citizenship
Global social and ecological standards, monitoring and management, supplier development
Management systems, risk management, compliance with existing legislation and regulations as well as with internal rules, responsible lobbying
Combines the demand for mobility, comfort and convenience, environmental protection and low costs with elimination of waste in the transport sector; based on the efficient interaction of people, infrastructure, technology and means of transport
Development and use of alternative drive concepts (including electric mobility) that make a substantial contribution to reducing emissions of CO2
Qualification, involvement, integrated health management, occupational safety, ergonomics and concepts for dealing with demographic trends
Group-wide climate protection and environmental protection strategy, indicator-based environmental impact reduction programs
Safeguarding against capital market risks and anticipatory management; also includes aspects such as local sourcing
Customer satisfaction with products, dealers and service, product responsibility, quality assurance
Efficient and economical use of resources (raw materials, energy and water) over the full life cycle, use of renewable energy sources
Development of growth markets
Decision and Outlook
At the beginning of 2014 the Group CSR & Sustainability Steering Group approved the materiality matrix as the valid description and corridor for the ongoing strategic development of responsibility and sustainability in the Volkswagen Group. In preparation for the new requirements set out in the GRI’s G4 guidance document, we will devise an approach that takes greater account of the brands’ activities, bundles their findings better and feeds them into a Group analysis.
To ensure a systematic approach to stakeholder management within the Group, in 2014 we are introducing an IT-based issue and stakeholder module. This will help to assess the importance of individual stakeholder groups and link this evaluation with the assessment of issues. It thus forms the basis for stakeholder-oriented issues management in 2014 that helps to uphold the reputation of the Group.