KEINE WEITERGABE Claudia Große-Leege ist neue Geschäftsführerin des VBKI In den Räumen des VBKI im Ludwig-Erhard-Haus in der Fasanenstraße 85 in Berlin Charlottenburg. Foto: Doris Spiekermann-Klaas

Claudia Große-Leege, the outgoing managing director of the Association of Berlin Merchants and Industrialists (VBKI), explained her withdrawal from the business network in more detail – combined with an appeal to generally pay more attention and appreciation to the issue of caring for relatives.

The association, founded in 1879, which with 2,300 members is one of the most important networks in Berlin, laid the groundwork rather flatly at the end of last week in its official statement on the withdrawal from Große-Leege after only two years. She is leaving the “renowned Berlin business institution” for “personal reasons”, it said at the beginning of the press release.

Only in the back part was the 54-year-old quoted as saying that the time had come earlier than planned to “swap this dream job for caring for the parents.”

In the days that followed, this reason for withdrawal provided a topic of conversation in local business circles: Große-Leege wrote in an article on the online network LinkedIn that the termination “for personal reasons” was mostly a mystery. “And exchanging an attractive job for family responsibilities is still unusual.

Although caring for parents is considered important by society, it is still rarely given as a reason for career changes.” She felt encouraged by former Bosch top manager Vera Schneevoigt. In mid-June, they announced “Exchange a corporate career for – parental care!”, explaining this in detail and receiving a lot of applause for it. Among other things, from the DB Group board member and long-time BVG boss Sigrid Nikutta. (“What an important and courageous step! I admire you!).

Claudia Große-Leege wrote to the Tagesspiegel that this step represents a risk, “because it slows down your career or brings it to a complete standstill if it is not foreseeable how long the care will last or how extensive it will be. The compatibility of care and work cannot be planned as reliably as parental leave.”

She is not just concerned with the nursing tasks in the narrower sense, but also with the availability for the parents or other relatives “and thus also with my own claim: What do I want to contribute to my parents continuing to have a good life? In the best case, the generational contract can work in the traditional sense within a family – instead of leaving relatives in professional hands, give back what you have experienced in terms of care and support throughout your life.”

To this day, the subject of care does not have the status it should in our society, especially in view of the demographics and the question of how the baby boomer cohorts are to be cared for in the very near future. “We need more role models – from men and women alike. This is the only way that the social value can also be appreciated.” Grosse-Leege added that dealing with the topic must be a matter of course, just as it has now been achieved with parental leave.

A change in the legal framework for childcare also made a positive contribution to this. “In this respect, the care should also be checked again.” The right to care leave has so far been regulated very closely: there are exemptions for home care for a maximum of six months and only in organizations with more than 15 employees, the same restriction also applies to family care time (home care, only in organizations with more than 25 employees). “If caring for relatives is to become a socially recognized construct like parental leave, it also needs a similarly attractive framework,” says Große-Leege.