Coronavirus pandemic: ElringKlinger donates protective masks
Special circumstances require special measures. In response to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, ElringKlinger therefore donated its stock of FFP masks to surrounding institutions, including the University Hospital of Tübingen. The masks were delivered by Andreas Brändle (Vice President Corporate Marketing & Communications). We are delighted that ElringKlinger is thus able to give something back to clinics, doctors and staff. After all, they are doing an incredible job
Work for and with people with disabilities
ElringKlinger is committed to a diverse society and so cial responsibility. Inclusion and integration are thus two causes that the company has long held close to its heart. ElringKlinger firmly believes that, for many people, being shut out of the world of work also means being shut out of society, as it forces them to sacrifice their financial independence and ability to live a full, self-directed life. ElringKlinger focuses very clearly on the strengths and potential of disabled people rather than on their supposed shortcomings. Markus Siegers, Chairman of the Works Council at ElringKlinger AG, explains in an interview how the Group makes inclusion and integration part of its everyday work.
Mr. Siegers, many employers shy away from employing people with disabilities. What is ElringKlinger’s approach?
SIEGERS Questions about a person’s ability to perform, likelihood of falling sick or even protection against unfair dismissal often arise in the context of employing someone with a disability. As it happens, we at ElringKlinger have found that many people with disabilities can perform very well because they are highly motivated and really throw themselves into their day-to-day work. We currently have some 150 employees with severe disabilities in Germany alone. Of course, we have to make some minor adjustments to create the best possible working environment for them. For instance, a colleague with a hearing impairment will need completely different modifications than a wheelchair user, and both will present different requirements in terms of addressing their disability. But experience has shown that the relevant investments pay off very quickly for the company.
You’ve been working with BruderhausDiakonie for several years now. What experiences from this partnership are you able to share with us?
SIEGERS ElringKlinger has been working together with the social welfare agency BruderhausDiakonie for over 20 years now. Our common aim is to open the door to the world of work for people with disabilities and people who, because of social or employment issues, aren’t or aren’t yet able to get into the “regular” job market. The duties we’ve assigned them have included cleaning, neutralizing, and filling boxes with ElringKlinger products for dispatch at our headquarters in Dettingen/Erms. It was not until 2017 that ElringKlinger expanded the business relationship when it opened a new warehouse. This new building was needed in response to a steady increase in the amount of packaging work in the Spare Parts division. The individual activities, such as incoming goods checks, preassembly and packaging, are routinely tailored to suit the particular abilities of each employee. For us, the partnership with BruderhausDiakonie is far more than a purely commercial business relationship. And this is why, in 2014, we cemented this relationship based on trust by signing a ten-year contract.
Were any other projects implemented in 2018 that could come under the category of “Inclusion?”
SIEGERS Yes, in actual fact, many sites ran their own individual projects. And one of these is particularly noteworthy: A team of colleagues at our Turkish site in Bursa used its development and production expertise to make electric wheelchairs, working together with a young man with paraplegia. Alongside its purely practical objective – giving people with mobility problems a better quality of life – the project also brought significant added value to everyone involved in another way too: The open and intensive dialogue provided a new perspective and improved mutual understanding – especially amongst our non-disabled colleagues in respect of those with disabilities.
It looks like the 21st century will be judged by how it handled the waves of refugees. What experience have you gained to date in terms of integrating refugees?
SIEGERS Besides the big issue of inclusion, we’re also focusing our attention very much on integration, of course. So far, we’ve had some good experiences as regards integrating colleagues with a migration background. The watchword “intercultural communication” mustn’t be underestimated. After all, if two colleagues have a different body language and way of behaving, this can cause misunderstandings between them, which we want to avoid as far as possible. One good example of this is undoubtedly how well Alaa Najjar has been integrated. Mr. Najjar, who grew up in Syria and fled the country in 2015, already had a degree in Computer Engineering from his homeland. Following a six-month introductory course, he completed vocational training at ElringKlinger, which he concluded successfully in 2018. He was subsequently taken on as part of a temporary arrangement.
Thank you very much, Mr. Siegers, for sharing your thoughts