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2017 Sustainability Report
published 2018/08/01

Integration is a matter close to our hearts

We have been moved by the armed conflicts around the world and the plight of refugees. We, both employees and the management, have therefore come together and decided to take our responsibility seriously as a company and actively promote the integration of refugees.

»We want to do our part as a company and help refugees. We can provide valuable resources and expertise – especially when it comes to integrating refugees in the labor market. If we work together to help refugees improve their prospects, the economy can benefit enormously in the long term.«

Dr. Antje von Dewitz, Managing Director VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG

How are we involved?


  • Since 2016, we have offered eleven permanent positions, one training position and numerous internships to refugees.
  • We are politically committed to the right of refugees to keep their jobs and stay in training programs
  • We are working closely with asylum networks and local employment agencies.
  • At a VAUDE open house, refugees were invited to become familiar VAUDE, receive job application training and gain insights into different career opportunities.
  • In the sewing workshop, refugees became familiar with working life in Germany.
  • We offer a free German language course for VAUDE employees.
  • A guide helps refugees with getting settled in the German workforce.
  • We donate to clothing and aid projects.
  • As a member of the initiative of the German program Wir-zusammen and the "Companies integrate refugees" network, we are networked with other companies.


For our commitment we were honored with the LEA Mittelstandpreis, 2017 for social responsibility by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics and with the Demografie Exzellenz Award 2017 in the category "fremd & heimisch" for our commitment to refugees.


All details can be found here:

Both a challenge and an opportunity

Many people come to Germany fleeing war and persecution. As a country, we are facing major challenges regarding integration. As a company, we are choosing not to look the other way, but to actively work toward the integration of refugees into the labor market. Of course, this is a big challenge for us; in addition to bureaucratic hurdles, it involves a significant amount of effort in consultation with the refugees, authorities and on-site volunteers.


However, we are convinced that employment is the best strategy for integration and that refugees represent an opportunity for the German labor market. Especially in the commercial sector, we have a strong need for manpower along with problems filling vacancies. Through our regional refugee projects, we have gotten to know many potential employees who are highly motivated, some of whom are already trained. We have recognized a classic win-win situation.

Jobs for refugees

VAUDE wants to provide refugees with professional prospects. To accomplish this, we post our open positions with asylum networks and the local employment agency. Our HR team has familiarized itself with the complex issue of refugee employment and we have been able to fill seven permanent positions, an entry-level qualification and several internships with refugees. Future job vacancies will be reviewed by the human resources department and forwarded to the local employment agency.

»Together we are strong – these words describe our commitment to refugees. We are successful with our integration program because we are receiving support from all sides and are all working closely together, whether it be colleagues from other departments such as payroll accounting and manufacturing or external partners such as the employment agency.«

Raphaela Sieber, Personnel Officer
 
 

Cultural and linguistic challenges

We are aware of the challenges regarding language and cultural barriers. The German language is a basic requirement for a functioning culture of trust and communication. That is why we introduced a free German course for VAUDE employees that began in March 2017. 


To help integrate the refugees into the German culture, common rules for working life and dealing with colleagues is taught using a guideline containing the main points. This also includes issues such as sick leave, holiday leave and working hours.


For 2017 we set ourselves a goal of examining and discussing the issue of diversity at VAUDE.

Employee involvement

Many employees are passionately involved and are committed to the issue of refugees both in their private life as well as at their workplace.


Our employees’ willingness to help is an important prerequisite for successful integration. These colleagues make a very valuable contribution during a new employee’s training phase and becoming familiar with the daily routine of working at VAUDE. This includes, for example, approachability, accepting deficits in the command of the German language and working together to improve fluency and vocabulary.


At the initiative of our employees, we have opened many of the recreational courses in our Corporate Health Management System to refugees. This type of sports oriented contact is a great way to connect VAUDE’s guiding principles with our integration projects, because often it is easier to overcome cultural and language barriers in a sports setting and easier to make connections.

»I really enjoy supporting my new colleagues in becoming familiar with the everyday routine of working here. I’m delighted to see how well they become integrated into the team and how motivated and loyal they are. But we are also constantly being faced with new, unfamiliar challenges such as preparing for a hearing regarding someone’s asylum status or dealing with a letter of rejection. Here, too, I try to help.«

Sarra Braa, administrative assistant in the Manufaktur production facility
 
 

Open House for Refugees

In September 2016 we organized a VAUDE Open House for refugees. The newcomers participated in the program with great interest. It included both a tour of the company and a more detailed presentation of the individual departments such as warehouse logistics, product services, sales and marketing while focusing on giving them a good idea of German working conditions and a realistic picture of job opportunities.


Another part of the event was providing training for job applications: With a short sketch, the refugees were able to make a first impression of the job application process in a German company. During this training, some refugees had already prepared job applications and were given tips for improvements or other suggestions.


To prevent any possible language barriers and help the refugees throughout the day, VAUDE invited two interpreters for the event who translated both in Farsi and Arabic. Childcare was also provided.

Sewing workshop for refugees

In the summer of 2016 we worked together with refugees at a sewing workshop at the company headquarters in Obereisenbach to make sustainable bags out of remnant materials. Within a few months, a pilot project was developed with the Asylum Network of Tettnang in which refugees visited workshops here at VAUDE.


This made it possible for us to provide meaningful working opportunities for refugees where they could also gain experience in the German labor market. The bags produced were sold at a sales event in Ravensburg. The proceeds flowed back in the form of a donation for a joint project on the Asylnetzwerk Tettnang. Two workshop participants have now been hired by VAUDE as employees in the production facility.


At the same time, a market check showed that the bags were well accepted by consumers. That is why we have set up an Upcycling Workshop where the bags are produced by creating two permanent positions for refugees.


More about here

Product donations for refugees

We often receive “donation suitable” products. For example, our repair service often receives products that cannot be repaired, but essentially still "work" (such as when a zipper pocket inside can not be replaced, but the jacket is but otherwise in great condition). As a rule, we donate these products to FairWertung, a nonprofit organization that has developed set standards for the fair collection and marketing of second-hand clothing - read more "Second use".


In the last few years, however, we have been receiving requests from relief organizations and projects for refugees. We examine these requests and provide support where we can by means of product donations.


Two examples:


Donations of outdoor gear to the DAV German Alpine Club project Alpen. Leben.Menschen for their events. The goal of the project is to spend time with refugees in the mountains as a method for contributing to their integration.


Source: Alpen.Leben.Menschen

We VAUDE employees have also become active and have scoured our closets and toy shelves for donations to an aid organization in Tettnang. Supplies were short there because a large group of refugees had to be housed within a very short timeframe in Tettnang.

GRI:   405-1
Diversity of governance bodies and employees
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