Part of the Action, Not Just on the Sidelines - Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

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Arvato | Gütersloh, 05/31/2016

Part of the Action, Not Just on the Sidelines

Ina Jejkal, Jens Kreuch, Dustyn Sturm (top, f. l.), Steve Kolkwitz, Christian Bolinius, Michelle Raack (down, f. l.)

Subject: Employees
Country: Germany
Category: Project

Diversity within the company is a mainstay of Bertelsmann's philosophy. This is particularly evident when it comes to inclusion: Integrating employees with disabilities represents an enrichment and should be encouraged. A commitment that is manifested in the Group-wide inclusion agreement. "At Bertelsmann, we cannot and do not want to forego the high level of motivation, commitment and creativity that arises from the diversity of our employees," said Chief Human Resources Officer Immanuel Hermreck upon signing it in March 2015.

Arvato CRM Solutions Germany's HR strategy demonstrates how systematically and successfully the content of the agreement is being put into action in the Group. Altogether, the division employs 842 employees with disabilities or impairments, out of a headcount of around 12,000 in Germany. The proportion of people with disabilities or impairments in the workforce has risen steadily over the past few years, reaching a new record in 2015 at around eight percent. This puts Arvato CRM Solutions well above the statutory quota of five percent.

In addition to employees with physical and mental disabilities, Arvato CRM Solutions also employs people with visual and hearing impairments. The following four examples illustrate the challenges caused by various restrictions in their daily work and how they overcome them.

Help from the interpreter

Jens Kreuch proves that you can work at a customer service center even if you're deaf. He's been an employee at the Potsdam site since 2007 and feels very well integrated. Including him in the team's internal communications is the most difficult challenge. Jens can cope to a certain extent using lip-reading, and the team leader communicates with him in writing. His greatest support comes from an interpreter provided by Integration Services. Everyone pulls together to help with the things he is unable to do: His colleagues handle the tasks he cannot manage as a deaf person, such as customer callbacks by phone. Regular interaction with the team members, the Representative for Employees with Disabilities, and Integration Services ensures that Jens Kreuch feels well looked after at Arvato.

Dustyn Sturm has only been at Arvato CRM in Schwedt near Berlin since February 2016. As his vision is severely limited, Arvato and the employment agency jointly installed specialized equipment for his job. A more powerful computer and software to enlarge the screen display makes it easier for him to work. Other measures are planned, including a special screen light and an anti-glare monitor with a swivel arm. As well as technical assistance there is also interpersonal support. "At Arvato, there are interesting and varied characters both among colleagues and customers. The working atmosphere is very good, and there's never a dull moment," says Dustyn.

Specially-equipped workstations

At the same site, a customized solution was found for Ina Jejkal. Her disability requires her to regularly switch between an upright and a sitting posture – so Arvato set up a separate workstation with a height-adjustable desk and standing and seating assistance. "Arvato is a socially responsible employer. I like working in my team and people treat each other respectfully in the company," says Ina, who has worked at Arvato CRM since 2014.

Christian Bolinius, who has been employed at the Wilhelmshaven site since July 2000, was given an office chair adapted to his needs as soon as he joined. Arvato also issued him a special parking permit so that he can park as close to the office building as possible. He says: "Arvato makes exemplary efforts to integrate people with disabilities into working life, and in my eyes is a perfect example of how it should be done. I also feel like I'm part of a big family, where everyone tries to help each other."

"Everything is accessible for disabled people"

Another employee who's been assigned a parking space right outside the building is Steve Kolkwitz, who works at Arvato CRM in Cottbus and has been with the company for six years. For wheelchair users like him, barrier-free access to all necessary areas is the first and most important requirement for successful integration. His employer created the conditions for this: "As a wheelchair user it's easy for me to work at Arvato in Cottbus, because everything has been adapted for disabled access. And if the elevator isn't working, I quickly find someone to help me."

Michelle Raack has worked at the same site for nine years. She works in the secretarial office despite an impaired physique and short-term memory. The team ensures that she is given tasks suitable for her capabilities. "It helps me a great deal that my colleagues are now able to realistically assess what I can be expected to do," says Michelle.

These examples show how inclusion measures are a success at Arvato CRM Solutions. Managers, employee representatives, and in particular Representatives for Employees with Disabilities work closely together, and there is also a close and constructive exchange with the integration agencies and Integration Services, employment agencies and pension agencies. To build awareness among all employees for the issue and create mutual understanding, joint workshops are held and sign language interpreters are regularly used.

Prime example of political initiative

Arvato CRM is systematic about its recruitment, too: In a job advertisement for the Chemnitz site last year, for example, the recruiters specifically sought people with disabilities. In cooperation with the employment agency, it was able to fill seven of the 15 vacancies with employees with physical disabilities, or impaired vision or hearing. "As competition for qualified employees becomes tougher and tougher, inclusion is a clear advantage for companies in personnel-intensive industries," says Henrik Teipel, HR Director of Arvato CRM Solutions Germany.

Its trailblazing role has already gained Arvato attention on a larger stage. The first meeting of the "Zusammen erfolgreich in Arbeit" (Successfully at work together series took place Earlier this year in Berlin; the series is dedicated to strategies and measures to promote the participation of disabled people in working life. The Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) hosted the dialog meeting on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS). In the presence of the Federal Government's Disabilities Commissioner, Verena Bentele, employees from Arvato CRM Solutions presented their inclusion efforts on behalf of all of Bertelsmann under the heading "Inclusion as an integral part of our corporate culture."