The powerful men of Volkswagen remain silent, while some of their employees speak in low voices under the assurance of anonymity of “perplexed” or “cultural relapse”. Independent and external experts criticize him openly and very strongly. This is how one can summarize the reactions the day after it became clear that Volkswagen does not want to extend the contract of its board member for integrity and the law, Hiltrud Werner, and is considering even to completely eliminate the post on the board of directors.
It is now becoming clearer that Managing Director Herbert Diess in particular is having issues with his colleague. Werner had advised the VW boss last spring to agree to a settlement over allegations of possible market manipulation in the wake of the diesel scandal. This would avoid legal proceedings that would have lasted for years. Diess wanted to demonstrate his total innocence, but then paid 4.5 million euros to the judicial funds – and sees his reputation tarnished as a result. Several sides confirm that Diess is particularly resentful towards this cause of the 55-year-old colleague on the board of directors. And his word matters a lot right now, and contradiction is hardly tolerated in Wolfsburg at the moment.
Another reason that can be heard in Wolfsburg from both employers and employees: they have now been working for five years on new rules supposed to prevent a diesel scandal; These, like the monthly online compliance training, can sometimes be so overwhelming that the work stops. In general, it is now a question of really integrating the new VW culture into everyday life: it is question that the HRD Gunnar Kilian or Diess himself take charge of this department.
“If the motivation for removing the job is: We’ve changed and it’s over and now it depends on agility and bureaucracy bothers us, then Volkswagen hasn’t learned anything, so you haven’t really understood what it is. ‘is conformity “is the verdict of Marco Mansdörfer, professor of criminal law at the University of the Saarland. The non-renewal of the responsible member of the board and the abolition of the post on the board of directors would confirm exactly that, explains the compliance expert. No corporate culture can be changed in five years; even midsize businesses without such a scandalous past would need at least a decade to do so. In order to ensure compliance in a digital, climate neutral and globalized economy, “an independent person who acts critically and with a spirit of contradiction” is needed, according to Mansdörfer. You couldn’t hang that up with the chairman of the board or some other board member. “It is not lege artis. If VW does this, it is a cardinal error.”
What remains is a seven-person, all-male board of directors
Wiebke Ankersen, CEO of the Allbright Foundation, which advocates for women in leadership positions, talks about the aspect that Werner would be the only woman after the death of his predecessor Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt: “Without having to do without a efficient member of the board of directors, if the consequence is a board of seven people, entirely male – a Dax group can no longer afford it today. Other companies like Telekom or Allianz already have three women on their board of directors. “When it comes to leadership diversity, Volkswagen is already clearly lagging behind,” says Ankersen. And in this context, it could be very difficult to inspire another top manager for a position on the board of the group.
Ingo Speich, Head of Sustainability at Deka Invest and one of the most renowned analysts in the sector, sums up the two aspects: “The abolition of the post on the board of directors shows the weakness of VW in terms of corporate governance. business. In addition, this is a clear decline in terms of diversity, “he said he wanted to repeat at VW’s general meeting on Thursday. And the experienced investor representative draws the opposite conclusion:” C ‘ It is precisely because of poor corporate governance that compliance must be maintained.