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Christine Vollmer: “The focus needs to be on people.”

To mark International Women's Day, we spoke to Christine Vollmer, Head of People & Culture, about role models – and how women are making their way at Riese & Müller.

Christine Vollmer, Head of People & Culture, Riese & Müller

Hello Christine. How does Riese & Müller view the issue of the advancement of women?
It’s important to us at Riese & Müller to create an environment in which people can develop. Women's advancement is therefore part of a larger issue. Diversity and equality are the overarching core values within our corporate culture and central to our HR activities.

What does this mean specifically with regard to the individual?
Exactly that. We see our staff as individuals, with their own life paths, life models, abilities and interests. We want to give them the feeling that at Riese & Müller they can be just the way they are and that we are really interested in getting to know them and their individual personalities. Everyone has the same opportunities. At the same time, the same expectations also apply to personal responsibility and the desire to develop personally. This also includes opportunities to talk about things when they don't go the way you want them to. We are therefore always in dialogue with our staff. Since 2020, we have also had a social worker and a psychologist in the company who are always approachable, and can provide specific professional support and development opportunities when needed.

What about female managers at Riese & Müller?
There are many examples at Riese & Müller of women who have made their way in the company in a wide range of areas – in production, logistics and administration – and who can look back on having done well in developing themselves professionally. Some of them are also in top management positions today. They are great role models for all female colleagues willing to take on responsibility and wanting to move into leadership roles. But we still want to increase the overall share of women in key positions. Our view of leadership has dialogue and respect at its core, so we hope that this will also contribute to increasing the proportion of women. Sadly, we keep finding that women are not confident at taking on responsible tasks, even though they have the potential to do so. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage every woman to believe in herself, to invest in her development and to have the confidence to take on positions of responsibility in business.

How do you deal with this problem? How do you still manage to give key positions to women?
In addition to the ability to deal with facts and figures, soft skills, such as empathy and sensitivity, are important to us for positions of responsibility. They help to create a healthy corporate culture by putting people at the centre of everything we do. People are encouraged to take on responsibility themselves when they see different leadership personalities able to coexist and enrich each other. We are constantly developing our employee development programme. A "Learning & Development" team, specially set up for this purpose, continuously works on state-of-the-art opportunities for development. These opportunities are not just about increasing technical and methodological knowledge. There is also a strong focus on opportunities for personal development and taking on social responsibility. We also maintain a dialogue through regular feedback meetings and try to react to specific situations by working out individual solutions together with staff to establish good working and basic conditions.

Thank you for sharing these fascinating insights, Christine.

Views from within the company:

"Riese & Müller puts a lot of trust in its staff. We are trusted to take on responsibility and to get things done – and we are also allowed to make mistakes. I feel that I am accepted for who I am and am given opportunities to build on my strengths. I don't see my gender as a particular strength, just my personality, interests and experiences. Every person is unique, has their own strengths and weaknesses – no matter which gender you feel you belong to."

Catrin Vollhardt, Team Lead International Sales


"We very much like the diversity here, because you get a lot of different input from all directions. This includes great new ideas, lots of topics to talk and laugh about – we get to know other cultures and learn from them. This adds colour and joy to the daily work routine."

Luana Mares, Team Wheel Construction


"I really think that there are no gender-specific skills that qualify you to work at People & Culture or in HR in general. One of the things I like about working in our department is that different personalities come together, each bringing their own unique professional and personal qualities to the department. I really appreciate working together with them all. For me personally, it's all down to the mix!"

Dede Bernadine Sossou, Team Lead Care & Support, People & Culture