Volkswagen’s new chief executive has pledged to make the automaker “more honest” as it fights to recover from 2015’s diesel emissions scandal, but its wary investors asked for outside vetting of steps to restore its credibility.
Europe’s largest automaker will extend its internal whistleblower system and beef up compliance to avoid the misconduct that caused the scandal, CEO Herbert Diess stated.
“Volkswagen has to become more honest, more open, more truthful,” Diess stated at automaker’s annual shareholder gathering. Preventing future malfeasance “is the top priority for my colleagues on the (management) board and for me personally.”
Former CEO Matthias Mueller, who was ousted last month by the automaker’s major shareholders, has said getting mid-level managers to adapt to the automaker’s post-dieselgate drive to enhance accountability was more difficult than thought.
“We have too long underestimated the value of a more open corporate culture that does not repress dissent but instead rewards it,” Diess stated.
Investors welcomed the planned modifications but said home-grown steps alone would not suffice to credibly change automaker’s corporate culture.
Beyond a new code of conduct for employees and stricter regulations for automobile engineers, there has been “little tangible progress (at VW) that credibly shows to investors that changes to the corporate culture are advancing,” Michael Viehs of investment advisory firm Hermes EOS stated.
“We therefore urgently suggest the supervisory board to carry out an independent assessment of corporate culture.”
Winfried Mathes of Deka Investment concurred.