Standing up for inclusion

Talk with Axel Schmidt, representative for employees with disabilities

People & stories, 03.12.2020

“Nothing About Us Without Us” is the slogan for today’s International Day of People with Disabilities. Axel Schmidt, Chair of the Group’s representative body for employees with disabilities, believes ERGO, MEAG and Munich Re are on the right track.

Standing up for inclusion

It was on 3 December almost 30 years ago that the United Nations proclaimed the first “International Day of Disabled Persons”. Since then, there have been a lot of changes in society. Many of those affected now see disability, not as a differentiating feature, but as a normal aspect of human existence. 

“We are increasingly experiencing attitudes that are fair, trusting and appreciative,” says Axel Schmidt, Chair of the Group’s representative body for employees with disabilities. “There are more than 70 representatives and their deputies who defend the interests of some 1,200 severely disabled* employees. And we can say that our Group has taken a perceptible major step forward.”

Also the understanding for invisible disabilities has increased

A further success Axel Schmidt perceives is the excellent cooperation with the company medical officers, members of the Staff Council, Human Resources, managers and members of Boards of Management across all the Group locations. “We are receiving wide-ranging support and a high level of understanding, without which many new measures could not have been implemented.” For example, many barriers have been removed for colleagues with mobility, auditory and visual disabilities. He also pointed out that there was now greater understanding for non-visible obstacles, such as depression and burn-out. “We are also pleased,” Axel Schmidt added, “that prompt and uncomplicated solutions were found for our risk persons during the coronavirus pandemic.” 

In addition, there is a wide range of corporate activities, relating to diversity for example, along with encouraging employee communication articles. “These show us that many members of staff and managers are interested in the concerns and problems of their disabled colleagues and are keen to find solutions for them,” said Schmidt, who has been severely visually impaired since early childhood. The founding of the Inclusion Network with Ursula Deschka as patron is a measure, which he, as a representative body for employees with disabilities, very much welcomes. 

From Sabina Rappold and Axel Schmidt

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