PeopleIn the thick of it

Women. Power. Network.

2. December 2022

Exchanging knowledge, engaging in conversation, sharing advice – Rheinmetall employees can do all this in the Women@Rheinmetall network. Connections cultivated in this forum can have a positive impact on their entire professional lives.

“This industry is simply fascinating,” says Monica Wertheim, “it revolves around human mobility and security – two topics that I can totally identify with.” As head of Rheinmetall’s Global Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding department, her job is to recruit specialists and executives for the company, striving to keep the number of women as high as possible. Only a small percentage of female graduates opt to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and most jobs at Rheinmetall are in traditionally male-dominated areas.

Legal quotas play a minor part in the company’s motivations. The greater the percentage of women, runs the argument, the better it is for the company. Studies show that the proportion of women in management positions is one of the factors that determines the success of a business. And Monica Wertheim wants to share her fascination for the industry – and not just with prospective applicants, but with the female employees who are already part of the Group. In Monica Wertheim’s book, recruitment isn’t just about hiring, but ensuring that employees remain at the company.

A network for women

When Monica Wertheim, a Uruguayan national, joined Rheinmetall in 2017, she recognized right away what female employees at Rheinmetall needed: a sounding board – and so Women@Rheinmetall was born. It’s a forum that promotes the transfer of expertise, where women can exchange ideas and consult one another. The network comprised barely a dozen women to start with. Now there are over 600, something Monica Wertheim is proud of: “They come from every location, all rungs of the hierarchy, all age brackets. In a way, they are the face of Rheinmetall’s diversity.” The connections made here and the presence of female role models in the company have the power to shape one’s entire career.

Monica Wertheim founded the network shortly after joining Rheinmetall. Almost 600 female employees from 19 countries are now involved. The aim of Women@ Rheinmetall is to promote and support the professional development of women at every echelon of the Group.

Outside the Women@Rheinmetall network, the Rheinmetall Academy in Germany engages in the targeted advancement of women. It offers management development programmes and training sessions specifically for women.

Many small steps

But all efforts, networks, and empowerment actions are of no avail if the corporate culture does not live up to its promise. Rheinmetall employees should have a workplace where they feel safe, a workplace that champions their talents, a workplace they can relate to. This should apply to the staff, insists Wertheim, irrespective of age, gender, or skin colour. This is because she doesn’t want to see herself as a special officer for women: “Rheinmetall is an excellent employer, period – not just for women!” She is also critical of the quota: “Personally, I don’t think it’s appropriate.” Support, building trust, and mentoring are much more important criteria in her opinion – in other words, everything that Women@Rheinmetall has to offer. “Every woman in the network makes the whole construct stronger,” says Monica Wertheim.

Recruitment may well be a big challenge, but the intensive work of convincing women is progressing in baby steps. The proportion of female trainees is now relatively high at just under 30 percent. This means the company will take even bigger steps going forward.

A graduate in Economics, Monica Wertheim has been Senior Vice Preseident of Recruiting and Employer Brand Services at Rheinmetall AG since March 2017. She previously worked in similar positions at E.ON/Uniper and in marketing and sales at the Kleffmann Group and Muskator Werke.

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