LEAD: Ms. Thiele, when it comes to the keyword “diversity”, many companies first think of the female quota. How much interest do you see in boosting diversity in terms of employees’ ethnic background?
Marlene Thiele: We regularly ask our member companies about their experiences and their motivation to hire refugees. There are two main reasons why companies are committed to helping refugees: on the one hand, social responsibility and, on the other, the search for skilled workers and workers. In most cases, both apply equally.
The issue of diversity often does not play a significant role in the decision to train or employ a refugee. For small and medium-sized companies, working with refugees is a first opportunity to experience and design diversity in a very practical way.
Also interesting: companies benefit from new perspectives
What practical measures should companies introduce to integrate refugees?
The appointment of mentors in the company who acquire intercultural competence has proved helpful. This promotes the culture of welcome and appreciative cooperation in the company. It also helps to manage intercultural challenges.
The foundation for successful integration is also the language. Even very smart and motivated trainees often have difficulties with the exams and the pace of learning. Here it is helpful to search for job-related language courses. The use of simple language can also make it easier to start.
After all, it is important to get the entire workforce on board early and regularly. This way, misunderstandings can be avoided because the rules of courtesy can look very different in different cultures, for example. It also strengthens the feeling of togetherness in the college.
More diversity topics can be found in the current issue of LEAD magazine 04/18, which you can also buy online.
What advantages do refugees have for German companies?
From our member companies we hear again and again that the people from other nations bring a particularly high level of motivation and loyalty. This way, they often manage to keep up the “core workforce”. They also provide language skills and intercultural skills that are of great value to companies.
For the refugees, it is again a great opportunity to participate in society, make social contacts, learn our language and build their lives in Germany.
Can you give examples where refugees have been able to bring in new perspectives in teams and have therefore improved their work results?
In our society, which is becoming ever more diverse, people with flight and migration backgrounds can usefully contribute their individual experiences and perspectives. As an example, I think of the nursing sector. There are already culturally sensitive care offers that can respond naturally and authentically to cultural or religious needs.
What hurdle do you observe as the most common reason not to work with refugees? And how can you refute this concern?
Especially for medium-sized companies, it is often difficult from the personnel and time resources to work through already existing offers and legal framework.
Here we start: In our network, we develop and share knowledge about how integration can work in practice. And that is being used actively. With almost 1,900 members throughout Germany, we are now the largest association of companies involved in the employment of refugees.
Also interesting: “Intelligence is evenly distributed, chances are not”
I beg your pardon?
There have never been so many ways to communicate. How do companies manage to successfully communicate their message? The LEAD Bookazine 4/2018 provides tips for the use of voice skills, UX and change management in working life. This is how communication succeeds – without misunderstandings.