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Shapers of Change

12. June 2024

750 women, one mission: The Women@Rheinmetall network wants to actively help shape the future of the technology and defence group – with project ideas from its own community. The bottom-up approach promises a range of benefits for both Rheinmetall and the women themselves.

Four voices, one goal

A commitment that achieves something: The core team at Women@Rheinmetall is committed to its community. In an interview, they revealed what motivates the members and how they get involved.

Sabine Weber: Creating global connections

Sabine Weber, Director of Global Project Purchasing at the Power Systems division, was one of the community’s first members. Following an interview on women’s empowerment, she was asked if she would like to get involved in the women’s community – “and so I became a founding member,” she says.

The more we achieved, the more seriously they took our network. We still have a long way to go, but it’s wonderful to see how a handful of women can get so many balls rolling.”

A goal for the next level: Be more international. This is an area where Sabine Weber is actively involved on account of her role at Rheinmetall locations all over the world. “I recently took advantage of a business trip to India to speak to the female personnel at Rheinmetall Automotive’s site in Pune as an ambassador for our network. It is important to me to speak to women at other sites and to encourage them to start up local projects that we in the core team can manage and support remotely.”

Janina Lemme: Reaching every employee

Janina Lemme has been a part of the core team for over a year. She works at the Unterlüß site as an IT project coordinator. In addition to her expertise in the fields of IT and project management, Women@Rheinmetall is enriched by her proximity to employees in production.

“It is important to me to reach more women in production and those without a computer workplace. This is something we want to work on. After all, we want to benefit from ideas from every individual in the company.” What is Janina Lemme’s wish for the future? “That employees recognize the value added of our network for the company. Especially at the beginning, we were often asked what we even hoped to achieve. But everything that we do is meaningful and goal-oriented. For that, we also have the support of Peter Sebastian Krause on the Executive Board.”

Nicole Täffner: Opening new perspectives

Nicole Täffner, a process manager in Finance, joined the network at the end of 2022. What she especially enjoys about being on the core team is working in a team without hierarchies. “Everyone is welcome to contribute their creativity and to be involved,” she says.

“By talking to women from different divisions, hierarchy levels and age groups, I gain a wide range on insights into the company – and that’s a huge inspiration.” At the same time, the close dialogue presents an opportunity for professional advancement: “The network gives us the chance to let others know when management positions open up and thereby to contribute towards getting more women into different management levels. That’s an important element in promoting diversity at Rheinmetall.”

Michaela Neues: Visibility for female role models

Michaela Neues from Recruitment has been a member of the community since 2018. Neues first heard about Women@Rheinmetall from her manager Monica Wertheim, who has brought Women@Rheinmetall to life. She was a believer from the start and especially enjoyed the virtual events.

“I remember ‘Talk & Learns’ with a lot of inspiring women. Or all our virtual conferences with large numbers of participants. Seeing what so many women here have been able to achieve is frankly fantastic – for all employees, not just for women.” Neues has been working as the core team’s communications specialist for a year now. She can’t wait for the call for projects phase in June: “I’m so excited to see what kinds of ground-breaking project ideas our employees suggest and how we can make them a reality down the line.”

Diversity opens up new perspectives for businesses. It makes teams more agile, more innovative and thereby more successful. Rheinmetall is a group with many facets. What its employees have in common is their passion for technology. While the DAX company’s areas of activity were still considered traditional men’s domains just a few years ago, today more and more women are pursuing a career at Rheinmetall.

Shena Britzen, who is in charge of the Group’s Hydrogen Program, first came on board more than 14 years ago. She has also been the head of the Women@Rheinmetall network since the middle of 2023. What began as an initiative by a dozen women in 2017 quickly developed into a large community. “The more activities we began, the more visible we became,” recalls Shena Britzen. “As time went on, people began to notice how well we network as women, and the value added that the community offers for the company.” Support from Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and Employee Relations Director Peter Sebastian Krause, who acts as Women@Rheinmetall’s sponsor, has also helped to improve acceptance within the company.

Shena Britzen has been the head of the Women@Rheinmetall network since the middle of 2023.

The next level: Harness the community’s energy

The mission for the next few years is clearly defined: To create a space where the femininity and potential of every person is seen as a key contribution to Rheinmetall’s business success. “Our goal is to empower all our co-workers to put forward their ideas to help make the mission a reality,” explains Britzen. “We intend to guide them every step of the way – from project initiation to performance.” In order to optimise the implementation of the new approach, the network’s core team has created a portfolio management organisation. The team’s job is to listen to project ideas, consider them, support them as sparring partners and find people to be in charge. The person who contributes the idea does not necessarily have to be involved in its implementation.

The first call for project proposals begins in June. The ideas received will then be assessed in terms of the company’s mission. Following coordination with the project initiator, the idea will be transformed into a real project proposal. If this is approved by CHRO Peter Sebastian Krause, it can go into implementation.

A sounding board for all

In addition to the projects initiated by the community, there is a focus on Women@Rheinmetall’s internationalisation. Over the past few years, a strong network has emerged that creates a space for sharing knowledge, dialogue and empowerment – throughout all divisions and departments. What it wants to do now is reach out to women working in production and at international locations, as well as to serve as a sounding board for every woman in the Group.

An important goal of Women@Rheinmetall: to network globally. Sabine Weber from the core team used her business trip to India to speak to the female workforce at the Rheinmetall Automotive site in Pune as an ambassador for the network. (Image: KSPG India in Pune)

The next level will bring a few changes for Shena Britzen and her team as well: The core team is now exclusively composed of women who will work for the network a set number of hours each week. These hours, which are coordinated with their managers, count as work time – and this is an important signal. Their commitment to Women@Rheinmetall is vitally important to these women. Britzen sums it up in a nutshell: “If you want the world to change, get busy changing it.”

Ready for launch

The processes have been defined and the time frame has been planned out. Now the team is eagerly awaiting the launch of the next level. They are especially interested in how many and what kind of projects the community will propose. Shena Britzen is optimistic: “If you extrapolate based on our results from an initial survey at the last Women@Rheinmetall Conference, we could receive between 100 and 150 project proposals.”

They are the members of the core team: Sabine Becker, Delia Vossen, Monica Wertheim, Anna-Katharina Clausen, Shena Britzen, Sabine Weber, Nicole Täffner, Sarah Machinek, Katharina Eylers, Michaela Neues und Janina Lemme (f.l.).
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