Diversity: Just Setting an Example Is Not Enough

Diversity: Just Setting an Example Is Not Enough

“The best solutions will always come from listening to input from
people that don’t look, come from, or think anything like you.”
Insight into the status of diversity in German companies.

The current developments around xenophobia and discrimination are reviving the debate on diversity. It seems that tolerance and equal rights are still not a matter of course – both in social life and in working life. According to a study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), almost half of LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual) do not live out their orientation openly. This is also reflected in working life: According to an online survey by the federal anti-discrimination office in Germany, one third of people who are gay or lesbian, 56 percent of people who are bisexual and 70 percent of people who are transsexual keep their sexual orientation secret at work.

Diversity in Management Practically Non-existent

While teams in the workplace look more colorful and diverse than ten years ago, management in German companies is becoming increasingly grey. According to the newspaper Handelsblatt, smanagement positions in most German companies are still filled with German men of advanced age. According to the latest report by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, the increase of women in executive positions is only marginal. 80 percent of the companies do not have a woman on the board at all. The assumption of the Federal Minister for Family Affairs is that there is no point in relying on voluntary decisions made by businesses; only political pressure in the form of a quota will lead to an increase of women in management positions. Current examples from the business world prove this.

This discrepancy is even more surprising when you consider that the majority of professionals are convinced that diverse teams work better than heterogeneous ones.

Diversity Management Has a Positive Impact

All these figures seem rather sobering – especially because so many companies are currently committed to diversity and are promoting their internationality and diversity. This discrepancy is even more surprising when you consider that the majority of professionals are convinced that diverse teams work better than heterogeneous ones. As a study by the Handelsblatt Media Group and Stepstone found out, over 70 percent of those surveyed believe that diversity management has a major positive impact on the economy.

This should be an incentive for all companies and organizations to conduct a diversity check and evaluate whether there is enough diversity in their teams to be able to work together to find the most creative and best solutions.

If companies want to remain productive in the future and want to be perceived as an attractive employer, they will not be able to avoid diversity.

Code of Conduct at OTRS

As different as companies are, their approach to diversity can also be quite different. It does not always have to be establishing a quota.

OTRS Group’s Code of Conduct is a good example of starting on the road to developing an ideal diversity strategy. Among other things, it is put in writing that all decisions, especially those related to staff, must be free of discrimination and that discriminatory behavior based on ethnic origin, nationality, gender, pregnancy or parenthood, marital status, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or any other reason will not be tolerated. The Code of Conduct is signed by all employees upon recruitment, including the Management Board. This gives a good feeling about inclusion and tolerance right from the start of the job.

The synergies that arise from the exchange with diverse people are the best way to broaden your own horizon.

Keeping Your Private Life Secret in the Workplace Does Not Make You Happy

Besides the general assumption that diverse teams make much better decisions than homogeneous teams, people can achieve the best results if they feel they have nothing to hide and can show their overall self. Sadly, this feeling is apparently still not part of everyday working life: It is not only LGBTI people who hide their disposition, as mentioned at the beginning. Time and again I hear that mothers hide their children during an application process – out of fear of not getting the job – or that women keep a pregnancy secret until the last moment out of fear of possible disadvantages.

And apart from numbers, quotas and results: I have worked in teams with only men and only women, in international and purely German teams – and I have to say that it is simply most fun to be part of well mixed teams. The synergies that arise from the exchange with diverse people are the best way to broaden your own horizon.

I am happy to be able to be able to say in good conscience at work that I am leaving the office or home office in the afternoon to go to the park with my little daughter. This gives me room for new creative ideas that cannot be found on the screen. Even in dialogue with a four-year-old, new approaches can be found that you would never have thought of otherwise.

As Barack Obama once said: “The best solutions will always come from listening to input from people that don’t look, come from, or think anything like you.”

 

*All links are in German.

Text:
Photos: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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