Social engagement has a long history at German companies. As China has grown into a key market for the German economy, German firms have increasingly demonstrated their commitment in the Far East as well.
In 2015, the Bertelsmann Stiftung joined with the German Chamber of Commerce and diplomatic representatives to found the More than a Market initiative in China. The goal was to make German firms' social engagement visible and to promote activities in this area. On May 30th, outstanding social projects were honored in Shanghai for the fourth time. The winners are leading the way in China in the areas of education, environmental protection, family-friendly corporate policies, and the inclusion of people with disabilities.
The 102 projects participating in the initiative – a record number – were evaluated by an independent jury of Chinese and German representatives from business, politics and civil society. Key assessment criteria were impact, relevance, innovation, transferability and sustainability.
The five winning projects illustrate the broad spectrum of social issues that German companies in China are actively addressing.
The Inclusion Factory from Taicang, for example, is one of the pioneers in China when it comes to creating jobs for people with intellectual disabilities. The sheltered workshop was founded four years ago with the support of numerous German firms and is now a profitable social enterprise.
The automotive supplier E.G.O. Components organizes a summer camp each year for the children of migrant workers. That makes it possible for parents and children who often live hundreds of kilometers apart to spend more time with each other.
Siemens was recognized for its I-Green educational program, which allows school students in underdeveloped regions to learn more about the environment.
Henkel was honored in the special category of "Environmental Protection" for its Flying Hope project, which is trying to protect the habitat of an endangered bird species in the Yangtse delta.
Another special award was given for projects initiated by individuals and carried out with exceptional passion. The winner in this category was the German School Shanghai, whose teachers and students partner with a local NGO to assist children with visual impairments.