Skip to content

Case study: Volkswagen Group UK – Gender intelligence

Challenging cultural perceptions through gender intelligence

  • Helping Volkswagen Group UK inspire its employees, and ultimately move more women into senior roles.
  • This was part of an ongoing drive at Volkswagen Group to inspire women through their #drivenwomen campaign.
  • We helped to create and deliver a special programme of events, called ‘A Day in Their Shoes’.
  • We developed a ‘Take a Step in Their Shoes’ job-shadowing initiative and launched this through a new interactive video.

In the automotive industry, only 16% of the workforce is female. At Volkswagen Group UK that figure is 42%, but the forward-thinking organisation still believes there’s more to be done, and so they have set themselves a target to achieve 30% female representation on their Board of Management by 2021.

Setting about the challenge, Volkswagen Group UK wanted to bring to light many of the issues around gender equality in the workplace. These include encouraging young female secondary school students to understand more about the traditionally male-dominated industry, ensuring equal opportunities within the business, and inspiring more women to join its senior team. They wanted to highlight the opportunities, make employees think, and start a conversation about what everyone could do to address the unconscious bias against women in the workplace.


44 set up a campaign within the business, culminating in an entire day’s worth of events dedicated to discussing the myths, issues and opportunities of having a more diverse workforce.

We developed the concept of ‘being in somebody else’s shoes’ and the idea that you ‘need to walk a mile in somebody’s shoes’ before you can really understand them.

This provided 44 with both the message and the visual, strengthening each piece of collateral created. This included regular articles on Volkswagen Group’s intranet, published in the weeks leading up to the event, and branded posters, banners, floor stickers and background material used on the day itself.

Volkswagen Group’s Managing Director kicked off the event, supported by its Human Resources Director, and the #DrivenWomen programme lead. They were also joined by special guest Julia Muir, the CEO of automotive education company Gaia Innovation, who shared her insights on unconscious bias in the workplace.


The speakers’ passion and insight inspired conversations that continue in the business. These include exploring the idea of unconscious bias: to make judgments and assessments of people and situations without realising it, such as in the recruitment process.

As a follow-up to the ‘A Day in Their Shoes’ event, 44 helped to develop a ‘Take a Step in Their Shoes’ job-shadowing initiative. This was designed to place junior men and women with senior colleagues of the opposite gender. The initiative was launched through a carefully prepared, filmed and edited smart video. A first for the company, the film allows the viewer to access additional interactive information during play, creating an extra layer of engagement.

The “A Day in Their Shoes” event was the culmination of a year-long programme of behind the scenes activity to re-examine the potential barriers to women advancing their careers at Volkswagen Group. The automotive industry attracts more men than women and we’re on a mission to change that. We firmly believe that having a diverse workforce is fundamental to our success.

“Our campaign raised awareness of the potential issues and got people talking about them. The campaign visuals were simple, effective and got the concept across. The day-long series of events captured people’s imagination and landed the key messages.”

Helen Farr, Internal Communications and Engagement Manager, Volkswagen Group UK Ltd.
Call me!