Second “women in leadership positions” conference in Federal Chancellery
Flexible worktime arrangements and respect for family commitments conducive to women's careers
Integrated approach instead of individual actions
Stuttgart – “If more women in Germany are to opt for a leadership career, we need an integrated approach involving business, politics, and society.” This was the appeal made by Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations of Robert Bosch GmbH, at a specialist conference attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. “Mixed leadership teams can help Germany remain a leading economy.” Speaking at the Federal Chancellery to leading representatives of politics, academia, and business, Kübel stressed that corporate and working culture play a vital role in this context. “Germany needs more women bosses. Flexible working models, respect for family commitments, and the elimination of prejudice can all play an important role in attracting more women leadership candidates.” In his view, women play a crucial role in a company's success, yet they far too rarely manage to get a foot on the executive career ladder. Given the foreseeable lack of qualified personnel, businesses that fail to exploit this potential are shooting themselves in the foot, Kübel added.
Diversity management: casting off traditional roles and mindsets “In everyday practice, women on a leadership career path often have to deal with adversity,” Kübel says. “Frequently, they find themselves confronted with obsolete role models and mindsets.” For this reason, Kübel is convinced that real change is needed on every level, not least to overthrow hackneyed stereotypes based on gender. Worldwide, therefore, Bosch carries out diversity management, encouraging respect for heterogeneity and non-standard career paths. By 2020, the supplier of technology and services wants to increase the share of women in leadership positions to 20 percent worldwide. Bosch as a whole has already reached a 12 percent share, with certain countries already having exceeding the target, such as China (23 percent) and Spain (21 percent). To give women permanent support on their career paths, Bosch offers special mentoring programs, networks, seminars, and training courses.
Girls' Campus: kindling young women's interest in technology Kübel said that Bosch wants to make a contribution to society, and give it the benefit of its experience: “For us, there is no doubt that mixed leadership teams are more successful, and can thus make Germany as a whole more competitive.” This is why Bosch supports initiatives to kindle children's interest in technology at an early age. Chancellor Merkel was especially interested to hear about the “Girls' Campus” program: this project, organized jointly by Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, offers female high-school students a year-long program of weekend seminars, at which they gain insights into the world of work, are shown around companies, receive tuition in technical subjects, and learn presentation techniques. The aim is to kindle young women's enthusiasm for science and technology. Apart from Girls' Campus and Girls' Day, Bosch also takes part in more than 250 education alliances across the German school system as part of the “Wissensfabrik” (knowledge factory) initiative.
Dialogue participants discuss subjects with technological and future relevance
Bosch CEO Denner: “In the race for a connected world, Germany must use its strengths”
Bosch start-up platform encourages entrepreneurship in the company
Berlin – Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel has appointed the Bosch CEO Dr. Volkmar Denner to the steering committee of the innovation dialogue, in which the federal government consults with the business and academic communities. At its regular meetings, the committee focuses on technological subjects and the effect that political, economic, and social conditions will have on such things as Germany’s future innovative strength. The discussions are attended by the federal chancellor and the ministers for economic affairs, education, and special tasks on the one hand, and representatives of the business and academic communities on the other. The committee is chaired by Prof. Dr. Henning Kagermann, president of Germany’s National Academy of Science and Engineering (Acatech). “The future of German business lies in connectivity, both technologically and organizationally. It is both appropriate and necessary that politics, industry, and academia should work together to strengthen Germany’s status as a seat of innovation,” said Denner, who is both CEO and CTO of the Bosch Group. “In particular, the close networks between business and science are one of Germany’s main strengths in the global competition among knowledge-based societies,” Denner went on.
Germany needs more innovative business models The Bosch CEO is confident that “Germany can lead the world in connectivity. We are in an excellent position to do so.” When it comes to connected manufacturing, Denner stressed that Germany still has a strong industrial base. “Our know-how in manufacturing things, combined with our expertise in IT and automation engineering, gives us a very real advantage in the race for the connected world.” However, Denner does not believe that Germany’s future competitiveness is set in stone. While German industry has always been a technological pioneer, “innovative business models still tend to be the hallmark of Silicon Valley. In the internet age, German companies also have to be innovative in their business models.”
Bosch start-up platform: encouraging entrepreneurship in the company The Bosch CEO sees a need to catch up in two areas above all: first, in technical infrastructure (e.g. poor broadband networks) and, second, in its culture of entrepreneurship, which is still underdeveloped. “The number of start-ups in Germany has fallen constantly over the past ten years. This is clearly not the development we need,” Denner said. Increasingly, therefore, Bosch is encouraging entrepreneurship within the company. Only recently, the company’s own start-up platform went into operation. It provides support to Bosch associates wanting to set up their own company. Denner went on: “Our associates have proved that they are good researchers. Now we want them to be good businesspeople as well.” While associates focus on making their innovations ready for the market, the start-up platform helps them with administrative matters such as management accounting and financing.
Personal e-mails, web access, and phone calls at the workplace
Chief personnel officer Kübel: “Flexible working models should be the norm”
Combined works council chairman Löckle: “A clear set of rules that gives our associates more freedom”
Stuttgart – Bosch has introduced a consistent set of rules that simplify telecommuting. It is also allowing its associates to manage personal e-mails, surf the web, and make private phone calls at the workplace. The supplier of technology and services is aiming to continue its move away from a culture of physical presence to a more flexible one that focuses on results. At the same time, this move helps Bosch achieve a better balance between work and private life. Together with the combined works council, two new combined works agreements have been drawn up that will apply to Bosch associates in Germany. Bosch recently put in place guidelines for a flexible, family-friendly working culture.
Culture change for more freedom and creativity “The reason we want to drive this change in our working culture forward is that we are convinced that flexible working models are beneficial,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “Giving associates the choice of where and when to work increases job satisfaction, delivers better results, and strengthens creativity.” Kübel adds that this is why Bosch wants to make telecommuting the norm.
Simplifying flexible working Telecommuting is already an option at Bosch. But new, simpler rules for associates and executives are set to make it even easier to choose where and when to work. Until now, associates had to get their supervisor’s individual approval before they could work temporarily at another location or from home. Now associates have the fundamental right to do so, provided this is compatible with their job. In manufacturing operations as well, management is working to introduce flexible solutions, including shift arrangements that are compatible with part-time working and systems that allow associates to stand in for one another. “We hope that flexible shift systems will benefit the company and its associates to an equal degree, serving the business interests of the one while allowing the others to reconcile the demands of family and working life,” says Alfred Löckle, the chairman of the combined works council.
Personal e-mails, phone calls, and web access at the workplace From now on, anyone at Bosch who wants to surf the web or use internet banking during their lunch break, say, will be able to use their Bosch company PC to do so. Associates may also use their company e-mail address or company phone to conduct personal business. In a world where work and personal life are connected, Bosch wants to make its associates’ everyday work easier. “I have a smartphone of my own,” says Arne Brixel, a production planner at the Bosch plant in Stuttgart-Feuerbach, “but it’s definitely more convenient to use my work laptop to book a train ticket or quickly pay a bill.”
Guiding principle – a better balance between work and private life Bosch already offers its associates around 100 working models, including various part-time options, job sharing, and working from home. “That’s why we have also made sure the rules make a clear distinction between work and private life,” Löckle says. “Every associate can define break times and set time periods in which they do not wish to be disturbed.” Guidelines for associates and for executives will help them both to make use of the advantages of telecommuting and to overcome their reservations. Löckle feels executives have a particular responsibility in this regard: some bosses also have to learn to let go, and to accept that mere physical presence should not be confused with hard work.
More focus on results, less physical presence The consistent rules for telecommuting give associates clarity on issues relating to logging their working hours, insurance coverage, and information security. In accordance with employment law and collective-bargaining arrangements, hours worked while telecommuting will be logged as normal. It will even be possible to make up for free time taken during the week by catching up with work on a Saturday. Bosch sees its clear commitment to telecommuting as an important step toward achieving a better balance between work and private life. “Many of the associates in my team can work just as well from home or from the office using a laptop and a cellphone,” says Anne Cater, a department head at the Bosch Thermotechnology division’s Lollar location. “Our Bosch Connect social business network also makes it easier for associates to work together no matter where and what time of day they are working.”
Pioneering work: Bosch introduced its senior expert concept in 1999
Life experience and professional expertise are held in high regard
Director of industrial relations Kübel: “Senior experts make important contributions”
Retired associates contribute more than 40,000 years of expertise
Stuttgart – At Bosch, demand for company retirees is growing around the world. In 2013, senior experts worked some 50,000 days, about twice as many as five years ago. Specialists including technicians, engineers, management accountants, and logistics experts were in especially high demand. Fifteen years ago, Bosch established Bosch Management Support GmbH (BMS), a subsidiary that offers the services of former associates for project work and consulting tasks of limited duration. The aim was to hold on to decades of Bosch expertise, all the while passing knowledge on to younger associates. The global provider of technology and services currently counts 1,600 retirees in its pool of experts. Over the course of their careers at Bosch, they acquired more than 40,000 years’ worth of know-how. In 1999, the senior expert concept was the only one of its kind in Germany. Since then, it has served as a model for many other companies and organizations.
Mixed-age teams: better results “What launched with 30 associates in 1999 has developed into a global success story for Bosch,” says Christoph Kübel, member of the Bosch board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH, on the anniversary of the subsidiary’s establishment. “Our senior experts make important contributions. Thanks to their decades of expertise, they can help find solutions, provide new ideas, and enhance our innovative strength.” Moreover, mixed-age teams make cross-generational learning easier, says Kübel.
Senior experts provide professional consulting services The senior experts are called upon in instances where professional advice is required on short notice. For instance, help may be needed to start up a new production line in another country, or to carry out quality assurance activities at a plant. “Knowing that my life experience and professional expertise are valued is a great source of motivation,” says Siegmund Kaiser, a 67-year-old Bosch senior expert for hydraulics. “I find solving technical challenges exciting, and I am pleased to be keeping abreast of technical developments.” BMS experts work on projects of limited duration and receive an honorarium that is based on their past salaries. They work in a number of areas, including development, production, purchasing, finance, marketing, and sales.
Excellent problem-solving skills, high customer satisfaction In 2013, senior experts worked on 1,027 consulting projects around the world, which added up to a total of 49,556 working days. The rising demand for senior experts is attributable to their strong ability to find solutions. Without career goals and free of financial interests, they can quickly tackle the challenges at hand. “I can apply my expertise directly, I can draw on my Bosch network, and colleagues accept me as an associate and their equal,” says 65-year-old Ursula Glatz, who most recently worked as a senior expert for quality management. “If I am not interested in the contents of a project, I sometimes decline a request. After all, I want to deliver convincing results. I am not looking for a way to fill my free time.” As a result of this determination, senior experts’ customers are generally very satisfied, giving them ratings of 93 out of 100 possible points on average.
Senior experts working around the world While demographic developments in Germany have led to a shortage of specialists in many places across the country, the senior expert concept reflects Bosch’s global diversity strategy. “Mixed-age teams are often better equipped to meet a range of customer needs,” says Dr. Georg Hanen, managing director of Bosch Management Support GmbH. “Many senior experts have more than 40 years of Bosch experience under their belts. For this reason, demand for their services is growing in other countries as well. Besides its offices in Germany, BMS also has a presence in Denham, U.K.; Broadview, U.S.; Saitama, Japan; and Campinas, Brazil. Most recently, Bosch opened a BMS office in Bangalore. Hanen predicts that the senior expert model will have a successful future. “Today, every second senior expert is commissioned for a follow-up project, and the numbers continue to increase.”