Celebrating 45 years of inclusion at Berlin-Chemie Menarini’s Social Enterprise Department

Since 1992, Berlin-Chemie Menarini has been a part of the Menarini Group, serving as the headquarters that oversees pharmaceutical activities in Germany, Eastern Europe, and the Eurasian region. It also stands as the largest production site within the Group.

Berlin is a key research center for the company, and over the years, a growing awareness of the significance of implementing social responsibility initiatives for the community has developed.

Marking a remarkable 45-year journey along these lines is the Social Enterprise Department. It’s not your typical technical laboratory; instead, it’s a dedicated space within Berlin-Chemie Menarini’s production line committed to inclusion, thus fully embodying the core values of the company.

It all started in 1978, with the creation of a department with a small team of seven workers with physical and intellectual disabilities. Initially, these employees worked in Berlin’s office under the guidance of two social workers. Today, this initiative has evolved into a more organized setup with around 30 employees (men and women aged 30 to 65), supervised and assisted by a team of eight.

With the authorization for manufacturing, the Social Enterprise Department’s integration journey took a significant leap forward: now, the workers are fully integrated into the production process, handling the manual assembly stage of high-quality pharmaceutical packaging. The department’s responsibilities extend to folding leaflets, packaging primary medicines, and processing training materials along with some of the company’s mail.

“This is more than just a workshop for the disabled” emphasized Berlin-Chemie Menarini board member Christian Matschke. He went on to explain how these employees are integral members of the Berlin professional community, working under collective labour agreements, enjoying social benefits and wage increases, and holding permanent employment contracts.

Those involved have not only found meaningful employment but, more importantly, have forged a tight network of human relationships. Right from the start, the project has prioritized the relational aspect. Through supportive measures and a variety of events, the department has evolved beyond a simple workplace; for many employees, it has become a hub for social connections, culture, and communication.

Head of department Sebastian Jastram asserts, “Employees are highly motivated to come to work to the extent that I need to ensure they take vacations and stay home when they are sick.”

Recent years have brought a wave of positive developments, beginning in 2016 with the construction of a new department building in the Berlin-Chemie Menarini campus in Berlin. This space boasts roomy and well-lit areas, ergonomic workstations, and a spacious relaxation room overlooking a lush garden.

In 2018, the Social Enterprise Department received a prestigious award that cemented the program’s success: Berlin-Chemie Menarini secured first place in the ‘Responsible Care Federal Award‘ competition sponsored by the Chemical Industry Association (VCI).