Business and human rights
High regard and respect for human rights are a top priority in the Volkswagen Group. We are convinced that sustainable economic operations are only possible by acting ethically and with integrity. We are fully committed to our responsibility for human rights in the context of our business operations.
We affirm our commitment to the relevant international conventions and declarations, in particular the International Human Rights Charter and the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). * We structure our business operations in line with the UN Guiding Principles for “Business and Human Rights” (UNGP). The ten principles of the UN Global Compact are crucial guiding pillars for the activities of our Group.
In accordance with the UNGP, we respect universal human rights, even in states where national laws fall short of the level of protection provided by international standards and we promote the advancement of the latter. By continuously enhancing our processes, systems and by means of forward-thinking action, we strive to claim a leading role in the automotive industry in regard to corporate respect for human rights.
There is a long tradition of social sustainability within the Volkswagen Group – at all times in consultation with the workforce and our social partners. This results in the following work priorities, the “salient business and human rights issues”:
We work to ensure that good working conditions, as well as freedom of association and collective bargaining are upheld within the Volkswagen Group and the Group’s affiliated companies. Serious breaches of human rights such as child or forced labour are unacceptable. On the topic of working conditions, we refer to our current statement on the British „Modern Slavery Act“, as well as to the Code of Conduct and the Code of Conduct for Business Partners.
Tolerant and non-discriminatory cooperation is important to us. We promote equal opportunities for all employees and value cultural diversity, respectful interaction with each other and mutual respect.
If a person’s safety is jeopardised, we react immediately, appropriately, and adequately.
The commitment of the Volkswagen Group to fundamental and selected aspects of “business and human rights” is manifested in several documents, which have been approved by the Group Board of Management. The following documents in particular should be mentioned:
Declaration by the Volkswagen Group on social rights, industrial relations and “business & human rights” (Declaration on Social Rights): the Declaration on Social Rights concluded with the social partners stipulates the binding principles for the Volkswagen Group’s social and industrial relations, both internally and with its business partners. In addition, the Volkswagen Group sets principles and targets as a component of its corporate responsibility, in particular the human rights duty of care. At the same time, the Declaration on Social Rights serves as a mission statement for business and human rights.
To the Social Charter
Code of Conduct (CoC): Our Code of Conduct serves as a binding guideline for all Volkswagen Group employees and is the basis of our Compliance Management System (CMS). It provides employees with practical assistance and orientation for their everyday work. In the chapter “Our responsibility as a member of society”, separate chapters are dedicated to the topics of “human rights” and “equal opportunity and equal treatment”. All employees throughout the Group receive regular training on our Code of Conduct.
To the Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct (CoC) for Business Partners: In the Code of Conduct for Business Partners, the Volkswagen Group formulates its expectations regarding the mindset and conduct of business partners in their corporate activities. Human rights and labour rights are key requirements here. Business partners must accept the CoC BP in full before the business relationship can begin.
Code of Conduct (CoC) for Business Partners
* The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is codified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The UN Guidelines for Business and Human Rights are linked to the relevant OECD guiding principles for multinational companies. Of particular relevance are the OECD guiding principles on the fulfilment of due diligence to supporting responsible supply chains for minerals from conflict zones and high-risk areas. More information on our policies can be found here.