People and Research
Top-level research lives on interesting, forward-looking problems, well-educated personnel and staff-oriented working conditions. Scientific creativity requires an offset outside of the of the office and laboratory, and a balance between profession, family, personal hobbies and continuing professional development (CPS) is therefore a substantial success factor even for highly qualified academics. This applies to people both with and without care obligations. It is certainly in the company‘s own interest to attract more women with technical-natural sciences expertise and to offer them career opportunities. Experience has shown that an increase in diversity in terms of personnel, coupled with good management, leads to more creativity, innovation and an improvement in the working atmosphere.
In 2017 BEST was voted the most family-friendly business in Lower Austria in the category for medium-sized enterprises. We also entered this competition in Styria later the same year, and received a certificate of recognition.
The staff-oriented corporate culture was implemented with the greatest possible flexibility: the freedom of the individual is as important as self-responsibility in professional work. Together with the staff, individually agreed part-time and home-office concepts are developed. Staff discussions are supplemented by return-to-work talks before and after a leave of absence and when planning parental part-time working. The process, from pregnancy until return to work, is openly discussed and planned. The same applies to paternity leave and parental part-time employment. A formal framework was set up in the form of company agreements. A company agreement concluded in 2018, for example, gives employees the chance to take paternity leave, or time off as “family time”. The aim is to enable fathers to share childcare with mothers during the first weeks of an infant’s life. This establishes the principle of giving fathers the opportunity to take a leave of absence after the birth of a child, and is intended as another step in involving fathers more closely in the duties of family life. True equality can only be achieved through the fairer sharing of roles within a family. Making family time possible is a sustainable measure which anchors equality between men and women more deeply in the BEST corporate culture. This benefits not only the fathers and families concerned, but also BEST, gaining from the interpersonal skills that its employees acquire through the experience of caring for children.
BEST also continues to work on improving the corporate working atmosphere. In 2016 the company carried out an extensive FEMtech career project, during the course of which the recruitment procedure, career opportunities, working conditions and the work atmosphere were evaluated and further developed. The follow-on project, FeMentoring, in 2018 intended to help women enter, or re-enter, the world of research by offering support from mentors. The work council monitored the project and the resulting measures, as did the centre‘s equality officer. October 2021 saw the completion of “Equality Advanced”, another FEMtech career project. Its aim was to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions over the medium and long term. This was achieved at structural level by applying the 4 R method of resources, representation, realities, and rights of men and women in the individual departments. This comprehensive analysis raised awareness among executives and was used to derive and implement specific measures at process level. A fixed component of these measures was a work-life concept which addresses various forms of living and working, together with a related health concept. Implementation of other measures has already begun, including the consistent application of the gender star (*) to ensure gender neutral language, and the start of the first shared leadership team with a woman and a man.
Dr. Walter Haslinger, technical-scientific CEO exemplifies the corporate philosophy. Before becoming CEO he was head of the Wieselburg office for many years. During his time there the father of two also took advantage of the opportunities for parental part-time work and paternal leave. Following his return from paternal leave he became the centre‘s CEO.