In response to the video, Jürgen Stackmann, our Brand Board Member Sales & Marketing, and Elke Heitmüller, Head of Diversity Management of Volkswagen Group, posted on Twitter and LinkedIn:
“We posted a racist advertising video on Volkswagen's Instagram channel. We understand the public outrage at this. Because we’re horrified, too. This video is an insult to all achievements of the civil rights movement. It is an insult to every decent person. We’re ashamed of it and cannot explain how it came about. All the more reason for us to make sure we clear this up. And we will make the results and consequences of the investigation public.
We at Volkswagen are aware of the historical origins and the guilt of our company during the Nazi Regime. That is precisely why we resolutely oppose all forms of hatred, slander/propaganda and discrimination. The Volkswagen Group of today is at home all over the world. And the whole world is at home with us. Every race, every religion, every gender identity. This is our most precious asset. This is who we are. And this video is the opposite of what we are.
On behalf of Volkswagen AG, we apologize to the public at large for this film. And we apologize in particular to those who feel personally hurt by the racist content because of their own history.”
Moreover, Hiltrud Werner, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs, commented the video on LinkedIn:
„Volkswagen stands for humanity and diversity. The group is committed to the fight against any form of racism, discrimination and xenophobia – in the past and in the future. The racist and disgraceful short video on Instagram is absolutely inexcusable and I share the horror and indignation of the public as well as of our own employees. I do not understand under which circumstances this video could be produced and published. I am personally committed to quickly and comprehensively reviewing how this could happen, who was responsible, and if and how assignment and validation processes were implemented in this particular case.
I find it particularly disappointing that the clear and unambiguous rules of our Code of Conduct, which applies throughout the group, were broken. It strengthens my conviction that we must not rest in our efforts not only to further communicate and train people with regard to these principles, but also to make them the guiding principles of our daily work. Our employees have commented on the incident in hundreds of comments on our intranet. This shows me that Volkswagen is in the midst of a cultural change, as many are speaking up and demanding consequences.”
The Corporate Audit department is involved and is investigating the incident. We will inform you here as soon as we have further details.