Funded by the Bundesministerum für Arbeit und Soziales – BMAS (German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs), the program Unsere Arbeit: Unsere Vielfalt. Initiative für betrliebliche Demokratiekompetenz (Our Work: Our Diversity. Initiative for Workplace Democratic Competence) aims to strengthen democracy in the workplace and counter racism, conspiracy narratives and right-wing extremism.
In doing so, 34 projects nationwide support workforces, employers, vocational students and teachers to promote democracy and oppose racism and other ideologies of inequality in workplaces. The focus is particularly on small and medium-sized enterprises in the private sector.
Training courses, seminars, campaigns and on-site support for initiatives are offered throughout Germany. In addition to projects in each federal state, sector-specific approaches are being developed to promote democratic competence in companies. More information on the projects can be found on the project map.
The BMAS coordinates and manages the program together with the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund – DGB (German Federation of Trade Unions), for which the coordination project was set up within the DGB. The Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) is responsible for the administrative implementation of the workplace democracy skills initiative.
The program was published in April 2021, started with the first projects in June 2021 and runs until the end of 2024.
The world of work is of crucial importance for democratic coexistence: this is where many employees spend a large part of their time and meet people from different backgrounds. The equal and collegial cooperation of diverse workforces can be a key experience that strengthens democratic cohesion in society.
However, racist and exclusionary attitudes are still widespread among employees, as in other groups in society. A majority of the German population feels that companies are not sufficiently committed to values such as diversity and respect in society. For these reasons, and because the pandemic is accelerating structural change, there is a clear need for action to strengthen democratic competence in the workplace. Against this background, the BMAS has launched the development of the program and is coordinating it together with the DGB, which had contributed extensively to the work of the Cabinet Committee by submitting comments.
The program is part of the Cabinet Committee’s catalog of measures to combat right-wing extremism and racism, which was approved by the federal cabinet in December 2020.
The program focuses on adults in the world of work, an area that has so far played a rather subordinate role in political education work. The aim is to successfully transfer examples of good practice between actors and sectors inside and outside the program.
In this context, democratic competence includes
practical action skills
Recognition of diversity and equality, tolerance of ambiguity, ability to compromise, conflict and dialogue, reflective self-awareness, informed openness
The network addresses all three aspects to achieve maximum impact. Read more in the call for expressions of interest.
All projects are implemented at the company level or in vocational schools in order to specifically focus on the working dimension in the confrontation with racism and other exclusionary ideologies. The focus is on industries and companies that are undergoing structural change and are characterized by far-reaching upheavals and therefore fear an increased susceptibility of employees to being influenced by racist discourses, such as in the automotive, steel, energy and chemical industries, in construction or in trade and logistics.
Barbara Schmidt and Sylvio Kelm
Coordination project at the DGB
The German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) manages and coordinates the program in close cooperation with the BMAS.
The coordination project is responsible for networking, knowledge transfer, public relations and social media campaigns. We are here for you if you have any questions about the program or the projects.
Sandro Witt, Project Manager
Margaretha Eich, Project Officer
Marisa Hartmann, Project Officer
Nadine Plesker, Assistant