Helping everyone thrive in an inclusive environment

Smart companies know that diversity is the way to success because talent comes in all nationalities, ages, backgrounds – and abilities. They also understand the importance of building a workforce which mirrors society and accurately reflects the diverse nature of their customer base. Naturally, that should include people with disabilities, not because it's “the right thing to do,” but because these individuals come to the table with invaluable knowledge, skills, perspectives and experience.

Here, three Deutsche Post DHL employees discuss why they are determined not to let their disabilities hold them back, and how they ensure they can work to their strengths. Their managers, meanwhile, reveal what workers with disabilities bring to the team, and to the Group as a whole.

Johannes Wessiepe, integrated degree student, DPDHL Group Global Business Services, Germany: Here at DPDHL, I’m doing an integrated degree program. I work in Business Intelligence Services in Cologne, alongside, I pursue a degree in business IT with a focus on software engineering. I really enjoy my work but, actually, I had dreams of having a completely different career. I studied music and my biggest goal was to play viola in an orchestra. But then all of a sudden I developed symptoms of macular degeneration. The wearing down of my retina meant I could only see blurred or fuzzy shapes. Unfortunately, I had to give up on my dream and look for something else. When I was applying for jobs, I was honest and said that my vision was impaired. I didn’t receive many offers. But at DPDHL I was given a chance. I really like being part of the team. I’m just another employee, but one with a refreshable braille display that translates the texts on my screen into braille.

Christian Schimmel, Johannes’ manager, comments: When Johannes came for an interview just over two years ago, he really impressed us all. For the first time, I found myself wanting to hire someone with a disability to join the team. I was a little unsure to start with and didn’t really know how it would work. That’s why I decided that my whole team should get to know him. I knew we had to make it work together. Today, I’m convinced that when he finishes his studies, Johannes will play an outstanding role. He can’t create visualized dashboards for our colleagues in other departments using the software system we support, but we’ve found an area that we’ve completely recast and is perfect for Johannes. He writes programs in the system that can be used to forecast sales and other things like sickness rates. 

Yusuf Sahin, DHL Express Turkey: I’ve been with DHL Express Turkey for over two years. I started out in HR and right from the beginning, everyone was open and friendly. My disability wasn’t an issue and I never gave it any thought. I have scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, and a deformed foot so a physically demanding job would be too much for me. For about a year now, I’ve been working as an assistant in the customs department. I can do most things sitting down, so it’s a comfortable way to work.

Team lead Senay Boyali adds: Right from the outset, Yusuf made it clear that he wouldn’t let his disabilities get in the way. He works really hard and takes responsibility. We try to make the workplace as pleasant as we can. We want him to feel comfortable and be able to work well. This way Yusuf benefits and so does the team. 

Hans-Heinrich Bulmahn, Post & Parcel Germany: I’ve been working as a delivery agent at Deutsche Post for more than 30 years, now. The very first application I ever wrote after leaving school was accepted and I had the feeling that my disability actually lowered the entry bar. I was born without a left forearm. But in the big scheme of things, it really doesn’t cause a problem as I go about my day. Naturally, there are some things I find difficult. For example, I can’t use the hand-held scanner so easily and I can't make deliveries by bike or by van. But the management and the disabilities representative our branch support me in every way they can. All my colleagues help me out when I need them. Deutsche Post is like my second family. For the past 12 years, I’ve been using an electric delivery cart and five years ago I received a footboard to use with it. It really makes it easier for me to do my job.

Nils Borcherding, Jen’s team lead, comments: For me, it’s incredibly important to be a part of a team that’s diverse. At Deutsche Post we believe in treating everyone as equals. It’s the only way we can meet our own standards and be an Employer of Choice. Hans-Heinrich has been with us for a long time and he’s often my first port of call. I learn a lot from him. Whenever there’s a problem, we always try to find a solution that’s right for the team. For example, we’re currently working on ways to make it easier for Hans-Heinrich to use the hand-held scanner. We’re thinking of a kind of sling for his arm or perhaps a strap that goes around his neck. 

Published: March 2021

Images: DHL