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Company News, 2016-08-23, 10:00 AM

thyssenkrupp supports coming out at work

Do I tell my colleagues and if, how? This question occupies many people who are lesbian, gay, bi- or transsexual. thyssenkrupp supports its employees in coming out at work and as a “PROUTEMPLOYER” is sending a strong signal for a tolerant working world. Being open about your sexuality is still a long way from being a matter of course, especially at work. Experts estimate that 50% of those concerned are afraid to come out at work. For fear of open or covert discrimination they prefer to keep quiet – and have to expend a great deal of energy maintaining the enforced charade every day. “Homo- and transphobia are unfortunately still on the agenda,” says Albert Kehrer from the PROUT AT WORK Foundation. The organization represents the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people. It has developed “PROUTEMPLOYER”, a program that supports companies taking steps toward creating an open working environment – through events, training and coaching. thyssenkrupp has been part of the network, which includes many big-name companies in Germany, since May 2016.

“We are a company that values and encourages employee diversity. And that includes ensuring that sexual orientation is not an issue,” says Oliver Burkhard, CHRO at thyssenkrupp. “And there’s an economic aspect too: In a time where there is a shortage of skilled workers, we simply cannot afford to allow talents to leave us because they do not feel accepted.” The idea of becoming a “PROUTEMPLOYER” came from the Diversity & Inclusion department, set up one-and-a-half years ago at thyssenkrupp to focus Groupwide efforts to achieve greater workforce diversity. The LGBTI network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans- and intersexual employees, which has been active at the company since January 2016, was also involved.

“The support from the Group side is a strong signal for us,” says co-founder Sarah Ungar, who is head of HR for two thyssenkrupp companies in the Industrial Solutions business area. At the beginning of 2016 she came out at work and began living as the person she has really always been: a woman. She hopes that, motivated by her courage, more colleagues will decide to come out at work. “Since I took the step, interaction in the team has become much more relaxed overall. The barrier has been broken.”

www.thyssenkrupp.com

Twitter: @thyssenkrupp_en

Company blog: www.engineered.com

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