Inclusion Award 2013 goes to Volkswagen

The award was received by Martin Rosik, Head of Human Resources of the Volkswagen brand, and Klaus Wenzel, Chairman of the Representative Body for Severely Disabled Employees within the Volkswagen Group, at the Haus der Deutschen Wirtschaft.Yesterday evening, the Inclusion Award 2013 was presented to Volkswagen in Berlin. The award honors Volkswagen’s long-term commitment to cooperation between people with and without disabilities in a large company. The jury’s decision was unanimous: “Volkswagen has everything we would wish from a major industrial group and a fair employer in terms of commitment to inclusion.”

The UnternehmensForum, a national association of companies from a variety of sectors, presented the Inclusion Award to companies of different sizes who had promoted and implemented inclusion in industry in an exemplary way in five categories. The competition for the awards, which was organized this year in cooperation with BDA (the association of German employers’ associations) and the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, is held under the patronage of the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Disabled Persons.

The award was received by Martin Rosik, Head of Human Resources of the Volkswagen brand, and Klaus Wenzel, Chairman of the Representative Body for Severely Disabled Employees within the Volkswagen Group, at the Haus der Deutschen Wirtschaft.

Rosik said: “Freedom from barriers starts in people’s heads. At Volkswagen we look at people, their capabilities and potentials. We look at what they can do and not at what they cannot do so well any more, for example after a severe illness or an accident.” At Volkswagen, inclusion is part of the corporate culture and is practiced every day.

Wenzel emphasized: “If employees have a disability, this does not mean that they cannot perform work that adds value in its entirety. In an appropriate working environment, they can contribute their specialist knowledge, experience and skills.” That benefits both the people concerned and the company.

The jury, 11 experts from industry, academics, politics and society, including the Aktion Mensch charity, were impressed by the fact that Volkswagen had established an inclusion working party to coordinate and continue the development of inclusion activities within the Group. They were also convinced by the variety of services and activities for employees with disabilities. For example, sign-language interpreters are available when required in connection with Volkswagen’s Check-up preventive health care program.

Volkswagen is investing continuously in freedom from barriers. As a general principle, new buildings are designed to be barrier-free, including about 120 workplaces for people with disabilities at a newly constructed logistics center in Wolfsburg. Where necessary, buildings are modified. This way, barrier-free workplaces, canteens and washrooms are created.

For people with employment restrictions, various working time models have been introduced. These include, for example, two-shift schemes under which people are assigned to work early and late shifts but not the night shift.

About 2,500 people with a variety of severe disabilities work at Volkswagen’s Group headquarters in Wolfsburg alone. These include blind and deaf people, men and women with various degrees of mobility impairment and wheelchair users. The offerings and activities in the field of inclusion are just as varied. Over the past few years, about 1,700 employees at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant have completed the “Work2Work” program. More than 700 employees in 90 different locations are working at tailor-made workplaces. For the participants, “Work2Work” is a tool that safeguards their employment. They experience confirmation as well as contributing to value addition and to the success of the company.

Nina Ruge hosted the evening. The TV presenter, who was born in Munich, worked at the Kreuzheide High School in Wolfsburg in the 1980s, first as a trainee teacher and then as a teacher.

Inclusion Award
The Inclusion Award, which is being presented for the second time this year, is an initiative of UnternehmensForum, an association of companies from a variety of sectors throughout Germany who are committed to inclusion in industry – for people with disabilities, for men and women with health restrictions and other performance impairments. Their common goal is to ensure that everyone can participate fully in the world of work. The association is also an expert forum that exchanges and continues the development of best-practice examples for inclusion in industry.