Promoting integration

By Bernhard Schwager, Bosch Group
10:51 AM, July 14, 2016

At Bosch, a sustainable approach to doing business is an established part of corporate strategy. Since the company was founded, its activities have reflected the wishes of its founder, Robert Bosch, who was committed to contributing to social well-being and strongly believed in the principle of ethical business. That sense of social responsibility is still reflected in the actions of Bosch associates today, for instance when it comes to the integration of refugees.

The number of refugees seeking safety and a better future in Europe remains high, and this poses a major challenge for EU member states. Since 2015, Germany has also faced a particular challenge: Well over a million people have sought asylum in the country since the start of last year. This situation has been the subject of heated debate and has brought forth a number of questions. Nevertheless, most politicians, business people, and members of the general public agree that all stakeholders must cooperate with one another to keep the situation under control. Here, the business world can make an important contribution. Especially when it comes to the integration of refugees, companies can provide support in a number of ways.

Donations for local aid organizations

Against this backdrop, in 2015 targeted aid initiatives were organized in a number of Bosch countries. For instance, Primavera e.V., the nonprofit organization operated by Bosch associates, made a call for donations across Europe. With the help of the Bosch board of management, the group works council and the group committee of executive representatives asked all associates to support the refugee cause. In the end, more than € 400,000 was collected in several Bosch countries. As it had previously announced, Bosch then doubled the total to € 820,000. The money went toward a number of sustainable local projects that aimed to help refugees. Moreover, associates were invited to make suggestions for projects that the funds could support. The idea behind this was that local people would have the best knowledge about which social activities were important in their locations. Eligible projects included charitable initiatives that had already received the support of current or former Bosch associates. Ideally, these initiatives would be situated close to a Bosch location. A committee that included members of Primavera, the group works council, and Bosch associates decided on how the money would be distributed. Until now, Bosch has provided targeted support to more than 100 projects.

Associates as mentors

In addition to this, Bosch is committed to helping refugees get off to a good start in Germany. Prior to the call for donations, the company had already made € 500,000 available for integration-related activities at its locations. Moreover, the company has offered cities and municipalities properties on which emergency shelters can be built, as well as vacant apartments.

Bosch also plans to create 400 additional internship spots that will either prepare
refugees for an apprenticeship or for entry into the German labor market. At the same time, mentorships with Bosch associates and language lessons aim to help make interns capable of navigating their new surroundings as quickly as possible. The company is working closely with public institutions to expand existing qualification programs in a way that makes sense. This is also the aim of Bosch Jugendhilfe (Bosch Youth Aid), which sees Bosch associates act as mentors for refugee children with the “KinderHelden” (Child Heros) initiative. These mentors help children and youth get off to a good start in school and are available to support their mentees on school-related issues.

“The integration of refugees is an extremely important social responsibility. For this reason, we at Bosch also want to make an active contribution to supporting integration. We have a long tradition of combining economic activity with social responsibility. Together with our committed associates, we want to help people gain a foothold in our society and offer them a better future.”

A network of companies

Bosch is also a member of the nationwide network of companies called “Wir zusammen” (Together). This platform pools the projects of more than 60 large and mid-sized companies and inspires others to get involved with refugees as well. Just as it has done with many initiatives at more than 20 locations in Germany, Bosch is sponsoring a project in Immenstadt. The initiative supports 24 unaccompanied minors. Among other things, these young people complete a six-week internship at Bosch in cooperation with the local vocational school. The first round of internships has already been successfully completed, in no small part thanks to the participants’ high levels of motivation. This project reflects the importance of local activities, as it shows what can be achieved when apprentices, site management, and many other associates cooperate with one another.

Cultural exchange

Ultimately, refugee aid initiatives in Europe depend on the commitments of thousands of volunteers. At Bosch, too, many associates are helping promote the success of integration. For instance, an initiative of apprentices in Germany aims to encourage intercultural exchanges between people of different nationalities. To this end, the participants meet with refugees on a regular basis, for instance to cook together or go to local events. At other Bosch locations, associates regularly call for donations to provide newly arrived refugees with the things they need for everyday life. Other initiatives make language and math lessons possible.


Although none of these activities offer a complete solution for the successful integration of refugees in Europe, the commitments of companies such as Bosch and their associates illustrate possible approaches to tackling this historic challenge. The aim is to come up with individual solutions, discover what we have in common with people from other cultures, and find out about differences that can be assets to our society. And everyone can make a contribution. Every bit of help counts, no matter how small.

About the Authors
Schwager, Bernhard

Bernhard Schwager is Head of Sustainability at Robert Bosch GmbH.

Bosch Group

About Bosch Group

The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 350 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. If its sales and service partners are included, then Bosch is represented in roughly 150 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Bosch spent some 4.2 billion euros for research and development in 2011, and applied for over 4,100 patents worldwide. With all its products and services, Bosch enhances the quality of life by providing solutions which are both innovative and beneficial.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

Bosch group focuses on three main business sectors:

  • Automotif Technology
  • Industrial Technoly
  • Consumer goods and Buildings technology
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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