»We want to do our part as a company and help refugees and migrants. We can provide valuable resources and expertise – especially when it comes to integration into the labor market. If we work together to help this group improve their prospects, the economy can benefit enormously in the long term.«
How are we involved?
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 and migrants.
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 themselves, 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. We have a strong need for manpower along with problems filling vacancies, particularly in the commercial sector. 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.
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.«
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.
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 watch them become integrated into the team and also by their high levels of motivation and loyalty. But we are also constantly being faced with new, unfamiliar challenges such as preparing for a hearing regarding a colleague’s asylum status or dealing with a letter of rejection. Here too, I try to help.«
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.
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.
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
These rejection notices have created major uncertainty in our company, particularly in the Manufaktur production facility – both for the employed refugees as well as their fellow colleagues. Our deep concern has had a negative effect on the working atmosphere and on employee performance. The rejection notices have really unsettled both the employees and ourselves as their employer as we continue to need these workers. Anytime an employee is missing, there is a direction correlation with lower production volumes.
Our activism is based on the assumption that both authorities and politicians must create the general conditions needed in order to help companies implement a welcoming culture and active integration into the labor market.
That is why we are politically committed to this issue and have founded an entrepreneur initiative for refugees and migrants’ right to keep their jobs or training positions. Find out more at Political Work.
We often receive “donation suitable” products. For example, our repair service often receives products that cannot be repaired but that are also still functional (such as when a zipper pocket inside can’t be replaced, but the jacket is but otherwise in great condition). Most of the time, we donate these products to FairWertung, a nonprofit organization that has developed standards for the fair collection and marketing of second-hand clothing - read more "Second use".
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.
We VAUDE employees have also become active and have scoured our closets and toy shelves for donations to an aid organization in Tettnang. They were short on supplies because a large group of refugees had to be housed within a very short timeframe in Tettnang.