Volkswagen has come under fire in its home country after a recent survey found staff believed there had been no improvement in internal culture since its largest corporate scandal ever.
VW culture works council chief Bernd Osterloh, who is seeking re-election next month, said almost two-thirds or 34,000 respondents of the 51,000 surveyed staff at German plants said they felt there was ‘no improvement’ in corporate culture.
The overwhelming internal negativity is a crushing result for the 81-year old brand that implemented plans to improve accountability and regain trust since its diesel emission fraud crisis which began almost two and a half years ago.
But since then, VW and its brands have been plagued by law suits around the world, including a class action in Australia, as well as offices being raided by prosecutors and the most recent uncovering of unethical diesel emissions testing that was performed on monkeys.
"Culture change for us remains a permanent work site," said Osterloh.
Human resources chief Karlheinz Blessing added that employee sentiment was a key focus of the company.
“With the negative headlines that keep surprising us, it would be remarkable if sentiment was not affected," he said in a separate internal communication.
"We can only apologize to staff for what they have to put up with, even though we are not the originator of these headlines.
"We have been saying all along that a culture change cannot be implemented over the short term and takes time and is also not the work of an individual or of individual participants. All stakeholders are urged to bring about this culture change."
In response to the most recent monkey scandal, VW suspended senior manager Thomas Steg who was fully aware of the diesel emission tests performed on primates by the European Research Group on Environment and Health – an organisation funded by VW, BMW and Daimler.
“The methods used by EUGT in the United States were wrong, they were unethical and repulsive,” said VW CEO Matthias Mueller.
“I am sorry that Volkswagen was involved in the matter as one of the sponsors of EUGT.”
However, the unfolding list of issues has seemingly had no effect on consumer sentiment and Volkswagen’s bottom line which enjoyed record sales last year, selling over 10 million vehicles around the globe.
Sales for January 2018 also set another record for the company with almost 900,000 vehicles delivered – the majority sold in its flourishing market China.
Moving itself further away from the tarnished image of diesel emissions, the German brand has committed to spend over $78 billion towards electric vehicle research and will electrify all 300 models it currently builds across brands including Audi, Porsche and Skoda, by 2030.