Employees of the LMU Klinikum

Moving closer together despite keeping our distance: Multifaceted commitment even in the crisis.

“We are an important player in society – not just during the corona crisis,” explains Ilka Horstmeier. An interview with the Chief Human Resources Director of the BMW AG about the BMW Group’s worldwide social commitment.

Ilka Horstmeier

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, many companies have enjoyed being celebrated by the press for their social engagement. They have donated and organised protective clothing for those in need and much more. On the other hand, very little has been heard about the BMW Group. Why is this?

We at the BMW Group have also been intensively occupied with the subject of protective clothing. Right from the start of the crisis we have organised and donated protective items such as gloves, masks and disinfectant valued at several million Euros for health authorities and medical facilities. At the Wackersdorf location we are now starting in-house production of around 200,000 masks. We are doing this for the safety and health of our own employees, but also to relieve the external procurement market.

What goals are you pursuing in the current crisis?

Our main objective is to assume responsibility and apply our competences resolutely in the fight against the virus. Consequently, we offer targeted support in areas we are familiar with. For example, during the last few weeks, we have made almost 900 vehicles available to social and health facilities in order to improve the mobility of helpers and those employed in the health sector. In this way we are contributing towards health protection, whilst helping the economy and public life in many countries to get back on their feet. Both aspects are highly relevant and can only function if we work together.

You could simply donate money…

Anybody can do that. We are convinced that with our experience and know-how, we are able to contribute significantly to society. Here are a couple of current examples: In order to find innovative solutions to the challenges of the Covid19 crisis more quickly, our colleagues participated in the Hackathon #EUvsVirus – an idea hotspot organised by the EU Commission. Moreover, with the computing power of our global PC network we are assisting the Stanford University in California with research into the coronavirus. And here is another example from Australia and Dubai: There, our technicians have made alerts possible via the Connected Drive function. This means that a person starting his or her BMW or MINI during the past weeks received a friendly reminder on the display to stay at home in order to restrict the spread of corona.

But these are all ad hoc measures…

…, with which we have been able to offer fast and flexible help. But we do, of course, observe the current situation very closely in order not to lose sight of the long-term objectives. After all, we see ourselves as an important player in society, and not just during the corona crisis. This also includes our sponsorship of digitalisation in public educational facilities. In order to accelerate this process, we provide support to the Technical University of Munich (TUM), enabling the 43,000 students to take part in online lectures and seminars.

But corona is not just a local challenge but also a worldwide one. Where, as a global player, do you start and where do you stop?

Above all, it is a challenge with extremely diverse social aspects. We are fully aware of this and act accordingly. Luckily, we are able to fall back on long-standing worldwide partnerships that provide support locally on-site where aid is most urgently needed. One valuable partner during these times is the “UN Alliance of Civilizations”. Together, we support various different social initiatives that contribute towards building a strong worldwide supportive community with creative, innovative ideas and solutions. Our employees are often involved in all of these projects and initiatives – wholeheartedly and with personal commitment.  

For the “joy of helping”, so to speak?

Definitely, as many of our employees accomplish great things in their free time as well.  It repeatedly impresses me to hear how many people are devoted to supporting the common good in addition to having a job and family. This kind of commitment is diverse and currently ranges from the collection and distribution of food to the delivery of iPads for patients in isolation wards. Others deliver vehicles to medical facilities or offer their knowledge in online lectures together with affiliated universities. With this engagement, all of them show us once again that in a critical situation, people and their devotion make all the difference. Our colleagues deserve our every respect and recognition. And so again this year, we wish to honour them with our employees’ award for social commitment “We love what you do”.