»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?
During the first few years of the refugee crisis we carried out complex programs for job-seeking refugees and, due to the newness of the issues as well as the formal and legal frameworks required, we invested enormous effort into their recruitment and management. Working with our refugee employees has now become more routine. Nevertheless, we still sometimes have to invest a great deal of energy and company resources in dealing with individual concerns regarding an employee’s right to remain in Germany, economic and personal and/or family situations.
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.
»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 support our employees by offering them financing and time off for German courses as needed. 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.
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, accepting deficits in the command of the German language and working together to improve fluency and vocabulary, as well as comradeship and solidarity in personal crises.
»I really enjoy supporting new employees 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 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.«
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.
As it turned out, a market check showed that the bags were well received by consumers and we set up an Upcycling Workshop where the bags are produced by creating two permanent positions for refugees.
More about here
Many of the refugees that we have employed were still undergoing their legal asylum procedures in 2019 and in some cases this will take several years to complete. Seven employees received rejection notices from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Five employees had received their residence permits by the end of 2019.
These rejection notices create major uncertainty in our company – both for the employed refugees as well as their fellow coworkers. The notices really unsettle us in our role as an employer because we truly need our qualified and committed employees for the productivity of our Manufaktur.
Our activism is based on the assumption that both authorities and politicians must ensure 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 Strance.
We often receive “donation suitable” products. For example, products that can no longer be repaired in our Repair Services (so we therefore can’t give them to customers) but that are also still usable (such as when a zipper on an inner pocket can’t be replaced, but the jacket is 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
We VAUDE employees have also become active and have scoured our closets and toy shelves for donations to an aid organization in Tettnang.There was an increased need there due to the accommodation of many refugees with their families.