The MDC’s family-friendly policy benefits everyone

Everyone has responsibilities outside work, and the MDC wants to help its staff reconcile their professional and family life. At the information day on January 12, the project group explained the options available and Administrative Director Dr. Heike Wolke gave a talk in which she set out the philosophy behind the family-friendly policy.
Administrative Director Dr Heike Wolke. Image: Steffen Weigelt/MDC

When Heike Wolke says, “Everyone has a family,” she is referring to a “multi-generational network” in which people assume responsibility for each other over the long term. Whether these responsibilities relate to partners, children or relatives in need of care is irrelevant – almost everyone needs to combine work and other duties.

With its “Audit Beruf & Familie” (Work & Family Audit), the MDC has been certified as a family-friendly employer since 2009. Wolke explains that one can be family-friendly without necessarily having the certificate, but that obtaining one sends out a signal both externally and internally. An organization that makes everyday things appreciably easier for its employees gains a competitive edge over other research institutions. At the same time, it encourages staff to make use of the services that are offered.

Many of the services are aimed at parents and hence mainly at junior researchers, who are under great pressure to achieve. They benefit from the campus daycare center, the researchers’ vacation program, and the payment of childcare costs during training courses.


Sozialwerk Bund e.V. informs about its services. Image: MDC

Flextime arrangements and seminar and meeting times scheduled within core times are standard practice at the MDC and make life easier for many members of staff. All MDC employees are entitled to join the Sozialwerk Bund e.V. and to make use of its services. Occupational health management on campus is promoted through the “Health ticket” and the Campus Vital studio. The Berlin-based Dual Career Network can help couples look for jobs.

Caring for relatives is gaining in significance – at the MDC, too. Care work was therefore one of the key areas covered at the information day. A project group organized information and discussion events in 2015, and it plans to extend and professionalize the service in future.

But “there’s always room for improvement,” says Heike Wolke. There are therefore plans to extend the care options and to set up an emergency childcare program.

In order to be effective, family-friendly policies must be a natural, everyday part of the organizational culture. The MDC offers family-friendly conditions, but it is up to staff on all levels to implement them and thus allow the reconciliation of external and internal responsibilities.