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Creating culture from the ashes of scandal

Joe Mont | May 22, 2018

A small, but telling detail: Prior to delivering a keynote speech at Compliance Week 2018 on Tuesday morning, Hiltrud Werner, head of integrity and legal affairs at Volkswagen Group, was up at 3 a.m. to field a phone call with her colleagues on the management board.

While many others in the world of compliance and ethics struggle to find the support of directors, Werner has convinced her corporate leaders that the only way to recover from scandal and reputational damage is transparency, openness, and being on the frontline of cultural change. “Transparency is the only thing that creates trust,” she said at the conference.

Werner’s philosophy and approach to compliance is a much-needed change of pace and breath of fresh air for a company where bad decisions of the past—specifically, a massive emissions-cheating scandal—are still affecting its future prospects.

In March 2017, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it deceived U.S. regulatory agencies...

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