The opinions and suggestions of stakeholders provide Audi with guidance on how to continue developing its sustainability strategy. The most important tools used in stakeholder management are stakeholder conferences, stakeholder surveys (questionnaires and interviews), the “Responsibility Forum” social media platform for employees, series of lectures and discussions, and neighborhood dialogues as well as initiatives and working groups within the industry and involving political representatives. These provide Audi with important impetus – the Company wants to glean in-depth knowledge of the interests and needs of its stakeholders so that it can even better align its decisions with their expectations.
The Audi stakeholder management system was introduced in 2012 and reviewed by an independent firm of auditors. The management system has been steadily refined ever since. It is based on the international Stakeholder Engagement Standard AccountAbility 1000 (AA1000SES) and the principles it contains on inclusiveness (the systematic involvement of stakeholders), materiality (the identification of significant topics), and reactivity (the response to stakeholder input).
The Audi Stakeholder Forum is a conference on strategically important topics to which Audi invites selected stakeholders every two years. The first such event took place at the Ingolstadt site in 2012, where four topics came under the spotlight: the changing shape of mobility, environmental protection at the sites, social engagement, plus transparency and reporting. The main topics at the second Stakeholder Forum in Berlin in 2014 were digitalization and the connected car. The third Stakeholder Forum was held in Brussels in 2016, focusing on the opportunities and challenges of electric mobility.
In 2015 Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. in Győr (Hungary) hosted a conference on “Dual training”; the stakeholder dialogue was initiated by Audi in conjunction with the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, the German Embassy and the Hungarian government. In 2016 Audi dealers met in Ingolstadt for a dialogue on the subject of sustainability.
In Neckarsulm, environmental discussions with the public have been held since 1993 and there have been neighborhood meetings for more than a decade. Audi brought this dialogue format to its new site San José Chiapa in Mexico in 2016. The aim of the event in Puebla was to kick off a dialogue about regional development and provide insights into the subject areas of corporate responsibility at Audi México.
The “Responsibility Perspective” series of lectures is tailored specifically to the workforce at the Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm sites. It offers the employees the opportunity to discuss sustainability topics with high-ranking members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientists and politicians. The goal of this exchange is to enable a discerning, critical assessment of differing points of view. The online information platform “Forum Responsibility” summarizes the findings and gives employees an opportunity to launch their own discussions.
Audi engages with its stakeholders in many different federations and bodies, but also in cross-industry initiatives. One example is the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, which was launched in 2012 by the Global Business and Biodiversity Program of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). At the start of 2013 Audi signed on to this non-profit initiative, which has now drawn up a sustainability standard on the use of aluminum.
Stakeholder surveys are another important instrument. These are questionnaires and interviews that can be conducted online, face to face or on paper and that help Audi identify the main sustainability issues. The first survey was conducted in 2012, followed by further surveys aimed at various groups.
Audi presents its work in the field of sustainability and corporate responsibility in the regularly published Sustainability Report. Stakeholders may contact the company at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many departments have already forged close contacts with external stakeholders. Even where interests diverge, there is an overriding sense that an open, partner-like and trusting form of coexistence is always sought.