International Women's Day: Greater equality for a strong society and economy

Today we celebrate International Women's Day. The current UN motto for the day of action is "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world." International Women's Day raises awareness about women's rights and gender equality around the world and feeds into the United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 5 (Gender Equality) takes center stage today, and it is also one of Knorr-Bremse's five core SDGs. The company has already launched a number of measures to further strengthen SDG 5. After all, the Group needs the brightest and most dedicated individuals – whatever their gender – to ensure its future success.

The United Nations has set an imposing goal: to ensure a livable future for all of society and humanity. The roadmap is based around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will shape the way we live and work, our economy and our society, up to the year 2030. To deliver its focused commitment, Knorr-Bremse is concentrating on five core SDGs : Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work (SDG 8), Innovation (SDG 9), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and Climate Action (SDG 13). Our non-profit organization Knorr-Bremse Global Care focuses on two separate goals: Quality Education (SDG 4) and Clean Water (SDG 6).

At Knorr-Bremse, the top management has taken on responsibility for one SDG each. Every Member of the Executive Board and Julia Thiele-Schürhoff, Member of the Supervisory Board and Chairperson of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, ensure that the respective SDGs are taken into account within the company and that they give rise to concrete measures. The sponsor of SDG 5 is Dr. Jan Mrosik, CEO of Knorr-Bremse AG. In terms of gender equality, he has defined a number of targets for Knorr-Bremse to meet going forward. "Knorr-Bremse has always had an open and diverse corporate culture. Nevertheless, there are still a few places where we can and must improve. Our goal is to recruit more qualified female employees, then take concrete steps to promote women's careers and continually increase the proportion of women in management roles."

Attracting young people to technical careers

Even today, it is sometimes difficult for women to gain a foothold in technical professions. That's why Knorr-Bremse's efforts to support the next generation of female engineers begin even before they get on the career ladder: In a partnership with the Technical University of Munich, Knorr-Bremse specifically addresses female students on scientific and technical courses. The mentorING program matches female students with mentors who offer guidance and help them to start building networks that are relevant to their studies and future careers. The program is flanked by seminars and training courses designed for specific target groups.

Knorr-Bremse also wants to spark the interest of younger girls in technology – especially during the pandemic. The "Girls for Technology Camp", originally planned as a three-day in-person event, was held in October 2020 as an online day for participants aged 12 to 14, with virtual company tours, information on dual studies and job application coaching. The event is part of the education initiative "TezBa" (Technology - Future in Bavaria 4.0), which is sponsored by the Bavarian metal and electrical employers' associations bayme vbm and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Balancing work and family

The UN motto for Women's Day speaks to our present reality, as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted: Women continue to bear the brunt of the domestic workload, especially when it comes to housework, caregiving and assistance such as homeschooling. In times of such huge strain, the need for an improved work-life balance is paramount. Knorr-Bremse has responded with measures such as remote working for colleagues looking after children due to daycare or school closures and for colleagues caring for family members. The company has also been offering flexible working time and leaves of absence as alternative options.

Opening up better career opportunities for women

As well as focusing attention on the unequal distribution of domestic work, COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on women's political leadership (UN Women: COVID-19 and women's leadership) . The majority of the countries that have been more successful in containing the pandemic and managing its socioeconomic and public health impacts are led by women.

Work is also underway at Knorr-Bremse to appoint more women to leadership positions. Knorr-Bremse has moved a large step closer to achieving this goal in 2020. As well as signing the Diversity Charter , the company has adopted a number of measures, including introducing a quota for women in management, establishing an internal women's network, and continuing to develop existing support measures.

We see a diverse workforce at Knorr-Bremse as a great opportunity and a driver of creativity, innovation and cultural competence.

Dr. Jan Mrosik – Chief Executive Officer of Knorr-Bremse AG

In order to increase the proportion of women at Knorr-Bremse, the Executive Board adopted a quota concept in mid-2020, based on analyses by an internal working group. On the one hand, the quota concept applies to new appointments to management positions at levels 2-4 of the German Knorr-Bremse companies. As a first step, a minimum quota of women will be specified for recruitment and internal promotions. On the other hand, women should also account for at least one third of the places on development programs for junior staff.

Alongside this concept, Knorr-Bremse plans to roll out a Group-wide employee training program to identify unconscious bias.

Knorr Bremse Alexandra Bufe
The new Group-wide Women@Knorr-Bremse platform will give women the opportunity to share ideas and best practice projects.

Alexandra Bufe – Spokesperson | Vice President Corporate Communications

Supporting the implementation of these measures is the newly established women's network "Women@Knorr-Bremse". As Alexandra Bufe, Head of Corporate Communications at Knorr-Bremse AG, explains: "The new Group-wide Women@Knorr-Bremse platform will give women the opportunity to share ideas and best practice projects, for instance in the area of training, and will give rise to mentoring opportunities. We want to boost the visibility of both current and potential female employees in a supplier industry that tends to be dominated by men. We hope to inspire, encourage and motivate these women to proactively and confidently bring their skills and perspectives to bear at our company."

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