The Volkswagen Group, based in Wolfsburg, is one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and the largest automaker in Europe. The Group owns ten brands from seven European countries: Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania and MAN. Each brand has its own distinctive character and operates autonomously in the marketplace.
In 18 European countries and eight countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa, the Volkswagen Group operates 94 production facilities. Around the world 501,956 employees produce approximately 34,500 vehicles per working day, provide vehicle-related services or work in other business areas. The Volkswagen Group’s sales operations cover 153 countries.
At Volkswagen, we view corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the contribution our Company makes to sustainable development on our planet. In line with our Model of Sustainable Development, our way of doing business and our consumption of resources may not compromise opportunities for future generations. We pursue ecological, economic and social goals in the same measure and are thus an integral part of efforts to create a sustainable economic order on a global level.
Sustainability is the foundation of corporate policy at Volkswagen. This means that sustainability is integrated along the entire value chain of our Company. Corporate responsibility at Volkswagen means always considering the impact on society and the environment. Sustainability also safeguards the Company’s long-term future. In order to make an effective contribution to sustainable mobility, and as a company with global responsibility, Volkswagen is working hard to develop technologies for the cleanest, most fuel-efficient cars and efficient mobility concepts.
As a good corporate citizen, the Volkswagen Group sponsors not only regional development, but also a large number of worldwide CSR projects in the fields of art, science and education, health promotion, sport and nature conservation.
Aids Care Programme
In June 1996, Volkswagen do Brasil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, initiated the AIDS Care Programme, centralised in the headquarters at São Bernardo do Campo with specialised technical personnel and incorporated into the overall company health care structure and policy. The multiple purpose initiative focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and reintegration of employees infected with HIV/AIDS.
The programme in the workplace uses educational lectures and videos, information dissemination via the company radio, internal newspapers, bulletin boards and HIV/AIDS brochures. Furthermore, there were installed condom-dispensing machines in the plant. The treatment and counselling provided by the programme includes access to infectious disease specialists, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists, referrals to specialised hospitals and home care treatment. Patients are also given access to antiretroviral drug treatment and clinical tests such asmeasuring viral load. In addition, as part of the company’s non-discrimination policy, assistance is given to personnel in order to reintegrate the infected employees into the workplace and society.
Volkswagen notes the benefits of greater clinical control of patients, improved quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS within the workplace and in society, a reduction of hospitalization and a perceived increase level of employee satisfaction. In addition, there are cost savings from reduced absenteeism and loss of employees.
The AIDS Care Programme of Volkswagen do Brasil was considered exemplar and internationally distinguished by the United Nations General Secretary, Kofi Annan. In addition, it was awarded by the Global Business Council in 1999.
Volkswagen Group South Africa, another wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, has been proactively engaged in fighting the epidemic in the Uitenhage region and beyond since 2001. Supported in its efforts by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa(NUMSA), the company took the initial step in 2001 of launching a workplace programme in collaboration with the German Association for Technical Co-Operation (GTZ). The principal aims of the programme are to treat those afflicted with the disease and to prevent its furtherspread. Among other things, the programme offers free-of-charge HIV testing for all employees and their partners.
For many years, Volkswagen additionally assumed the very expensive cost of treatment for its employees and their families. More than 6 million rand (545,000 euro) has since been spent on financing education, counselling, medication and treatment. The campaign was a difficult one to get off the ground at the time, since there was a taboo surrounding this disease in South Africa. It was no simple matter, therefore, to persuade employees at the company to take part in the voluntary counselling and testing programme. People also made little use at first of the condoms available free of charge from 42 dispensing machines set up around the plant. That’s in the past now. In 2008 alone, 87 per cent of the workforce took AIDS tests.
Having long been regarded as setting the benchmark, the programme has received awards both from the Professional Management Review Africa (Corporate Care Award) in 2004 and from the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS in 2005 and in 2012. The head of the inhousehealthcare centre at the plant and spiritus rector of the AIDS Care Programme, Dr. Alex Govender, was recently even appointed to the Global Agenda Council of the prestigious World Economic Forum. The statistics provide an acute picture of the programme’s success. They show, for example, that only 43 employees “fell ill” in the period 2001 to 2008, that another 16 were “unfit for work” and that 68 had “since retired” from their jobs, while 200 employees who tested HIV-positive had so far maintained the full ability to work.
To create an even closer knit in the existing education and help network, Volkswagen Group South Africa and Volkswagen do Brasil are collaborating with local authorities, with other service providers in the regions and even with schools (where, for example, board games designed to educate students about the risk of contracting AIDS are being distributed).
Volkswagen Community Trust
The Volkswagen Community Trust is proactively engaged in South Africa. The non-profit organization is the key protagonist when it comes to looking after the needs of AIDS orphans or arranging specific training for medical practitioners. Trust money is spent on paying school fees and books for orphaned children – many of whom are thus given opportunity for the first time in their lives to go to school. The trust also makes teaching material available to schools, it finances HIV/AIDS education and it lends its support to helping train family doctors. Other areas of VWCT funding include for example a programme of tuberculosis diagnosis and therapy.
Volkswagen Group South Africa initiated an on-site, nationally recognised, tuberculosis program in parallel with its HIV programs because of the close inter-relation of both diseases. Against a national cure rate of only 63% the company enjoys a cure rate of 94% through aggressive case-finding and dedicated one-to-one care and treatment. The employee is managed on-site from diagnosis to completion of treatment 6 months later. Clearly, attention to both HIV and TB has resulted in fewer deaths since 2001 and fewer applications for disability benefits.
Comprehensive Health and Wellness
Volkswagen Group South Africa, following on the success of the HIV and TB programs and the lessons learnt from it, the on-site program has evolved into a comprehensive wellness offering which, at a single visit includes HIV/TB testing, medical examination, ECG, screening for chronic disease, referral to on-site employee assistance practitioners for counselling needs, advising on family planning and referrals to specialist for further management if required. This single visit also includes any statutory examination that is required, preventing duplication of visits. Such an approach has been well received by employees especially given the high number of employees detected with previouslyundiagnosed chronic disease. Through the on-site social workers a comprehensive counselling service is provided for any personal problems. Employees have the option of free off-site counselling too for those who do not wish to discuss personal issues at plant through a contracted service provider.
Women and/or Girls' Health
Apart from participation in all health activities, offered by Volkswagen Group South Africa, women are also provided family planning, annual PAP smears to detect cervical cancer. Moreover, there are regular talks by external experts on various health matters pertaining to women like talk on breast cancer, menopause, etc.