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including hands-on report and interview with Andreas Merx, project contact partner for the SME toolbox

Organising integration effectively in the company!

SME tool box supports companies in all aspects of diversity-oriented personnel work and management

Starting position/challenge

A range of different measures are needed to respond to the shortage of skilled workers in numerous sectors and to support diverse workforces in companies. Management teams and HR managers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are therefore addressing personnel concepts such as intercultural opening and diversity management as they often lack experience of employing people with foreign professional qualifications, and in some cases have little experience in general of employees with a migration background. However, due to lack of time, they need easy-to-access, compact information which is firmly focused on practice. Because managers are key stakeholders in the labour market integration of migrants, Network IQ has a range of provision available for SMEs. This has been put together in the form of an “SME toolbox” to meet their requirements.

Implementation of the SME toolbox instrument

The SME toolbox was planned and developed as a joint Network IQ product on the initiative of the IQ Competence Centre for Intercultural Opening and Anti-Discrimination. Key challenges in the implementation were the packaging together of the contents, consulting in a compact manner, and finding the best form of presentation, including clear illustrations, for SMEs. Relevant content was combined with the help of all IQ competence centres, 15 IQ subprojects and 26 IQ authors. The result is a compact set of information and practical examples for companies on 57 cards covering eight topics.

The topics covered by the SME toolbox range from personnel recruitment development through to the commercial benefits of cultural diversity, migration and the labour market, corporate culture and leadership. As part of this, the authors provide highly specific consulting, offer practical solutions, provide compact responses, and supplement all this with contact to IQ consultancy provision and further materials. It is explained, for example, that employees with a fluent command of their native tongue are able to provide the management team with access to new target audiences both in Germany and abroad. This means that diversity provides a competitive advantage for the company. The detailed and modular toolbox is available as an app, online and on the website of the IQ Competence Centre for Intercultural Opening and Anti-Discrimination. It is also available as a high-quality print product and comes in a protective box.


The SME toolbox helps to open doors and provide guidance. This is because the topic of “diversity” presents companies with numerous opportunities for personnel recruitment. So far, a total of 450 boxes have been ordered in print format by companies, chambers, employment agencies, job centres, and municipal and regional authorities. The pages of the online provision have already been accessed more than 3600 times in the first eight months and access via app is currently being launched. Numerous IQ subprojects are reporting that the box is being used successfully in collaboration with SMEs.

Addressees for transfer:

Management teams and HR managers, the Federal Employment Agency’s employer service, multipliers collaborating with SMEs.

SME tool box:

The SME toolbox is a means of providing information and support. It is targeted in particular at management teams and HR managers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are seeking to respond to globalisation, demographic change and the demand for skilled workers by using personal strategies with an increasingly cross-cultural and international focus. The toolbox consists of 57 cards arranged in eight categories and provides specific consulting in the areas of personnel recruitment and development, corporate culture and leadership, development opportunities and much more. The SME toolbox is available in a print version, and as an online portal and app. Competence centre: IQ Competence Centre for Intercultural Opening and Anti-Discrimination


VIA Bayern e.V.

Project contact:

Andreas Merx, Landwehrstr. 22, 80336 Munich, Tel.: 030/652 166 66, andreas.merx(at)