Interviews on the occasion of the Purple Light Up 2022

Interviews | On the occasion of the 'International Day of Persons with Disabilities' and the Purple Light Up Campaign 2022, we interviewed concerned colleagues.

On the occasion of the International Day for People with Disabilities and the Purple Light Up 2022 campaign, we asked the colleagues concerned. Where does the GFZ stand, what working conditions do you find, how are you personally doing? You will find their interesting views and insights below. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the contributors once again for their frank words! And thank you to all readers for understanding that some of our interview partners preferred to participate anonymously.


  • Are you affected by your disability in your daily work?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): No, I do not feel impaired, except that I am not the "fastest writer". But that is immaterial to my work.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: Yes. Due to my health situation, I am often not able to perform at full capacity. This "annoys" not only my environment, but especially me. In addition, days of absence due to illness are naturally higher than for the "healthy".

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): Yes, at times I am not able to work.


  • How have the Corona period and the resulting changes influenced/changed your working conditions?

GFZ-colleague (1): I prefer to work at the GFZ, but if necessary I also take advantage of the home office option.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: Home office was at times the prioritised form of work. Just being in the home office was very exhausting for me, because the personal interaction with the work group was also missing. In the meantime, the work situation has largely normalised and developed further towards a more flexible work schedule. For me as a severely disabled person, this is a welcome development. If my health is more restricted, I can still continue to work in the home office without having to stop working altogether.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): Corona time has had a significant negative impact on my working conditions, as I find it difficult to cope with digital work and it makes me extremely tired and insecure.


  • Where do you find better conditions: at home or here at the GFZ?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): At the GFZ, especially because of better communication with colleagues and better office equipment.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: That depends on my health situation. As an engineer, I am more likely to be at the GFZ than at home. Both are equally good for me.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): I have equivalent working conditions at home and at the GFZ.


  • What role does the commute play?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): My commute is about 15 - 20 minutes long. The commute does not play a big role for me. Through flexible working hours or home office, I can avoid rush hour traffic. With a bike, it's not an issue anyway.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: The commute is rather secondary.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): At times when I am unwell, the commute to work is hardly manageable.


  • Where do you think there is always/often room for improvement in the workplace? What are and still remain hurdles?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): For me, I don't see any opportunities for improvement or hurdles at the moment. However, the Geowunderwerkstatt/student laboratory should be expanded to be handicapped accessible so that integration classes can also be accommodated.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): A single office would be useful to avoid noise pollution and distractions.


  • Do you feel disadvantaged in any way in the workplace?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): No, I do not feel disadvantaged.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: Sometimes I do. Due to my disability, I am not able to work under unlimited pressure. This sometimes leads to me not being given enough credit or being ignored in certain situations.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): No.


  • From your point of view, does the GFZ do everything to enable people with disabilities to start a career? Do you notice anything (exchange with other people with disabilities)?

GFZ-colleague:in (1): I can't judge that very well, but the representation of the severely disabled and the HR department are very active in enabling people with disabilities to start their careers.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: The GFZ does a lot, but there is also plenty of room for improvement. As deputy SBV, I have a good overview of the appointments. I would like to see more courage on the part of those responsible to actually employ severely disabled applicants. Overall, the GFZ should be more visible as an attractive employer (for people with disabilities). Inclusion must be lived and not just be on the agenda.

GFZ colleague (3): When I was hired, I openly communicated that I was severely disabled and I have the impression that the GFZ made it possible for me to re-enter the workforce in an exemplary manner.


  • What concrete measures would you like to see for people with disabilities in the coming years? What would be your three most important points if you had your hat on and could shape them?

GFZ-Kolleg:in (1): For me, it is the expansion of the Geowunderwerkstatt / the pupils' laboratory to make it accessible for disabled people, so that integration classes can also be accommodated.

Michael Gabriel, Section 3.2: Since the number of applications is unfortunately too low, people with disabilities should be given preference, even if "healthy" people are better qualified. So in addition to the quota for women, there should also be a quota for people with disabilities.

GFZ-Kolleg:in (3): Above all, I wish for the possibility to communicate even more openly without having to expect prejudice, discrimination and above all speculation. And I would like to see honest equality especially for mentally as well as psychologically disabled people in everyday work. Training for managers in dealing with disabilities in the workplace would also be helpful in eliminating false expectations and prejudices.


The questions were asked by Uta Deffke & Jana Kandarr.


About the Purple Light Up campaign

Launched in 2017 by PurpleSpace founder Kate Nash, the global campaign makes a visible statement around the world on 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Symbolically, the colour purple is used in different actions. #PurpleLightUp draws attention to the economic empowerment, economic participation and contribution of people with disabilities.

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