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Company News, 2016-05-27, 10:00 AM

Unconscious bias represents an obstacle in professional life: Survey by thyssenkrupp and Forsa shows that one in five German employees feels they have already experienced discrimination at work

  • One in five German employees feels they have already experienced discrimination in working life due to prejudice from others.
  • 89% believe that unconscious bias guides our actions.

  • However, 53% believe that employee diversity has a positive impact on the business success of a company.

People who are overweight? Lazy. Women? Have no idea about technology. We often make split-second judgments about those around us, allow ourselves to be guided by superficial impressions and fail to form a considered opinion. This psychological phenomenon is referred to as “unconscious bias”. In professional life this bias also means that we overlook valuable skills simply because they do not fit in with expected perceptions. This is something 20% of the respondents in a representative survey of German employees conducted by thyssenkrupp and Forsa have already experienced themselves: One in five German employees stated that they have already experienced discrimination due to prejudice at work. And although these thought processes are difficult to grasp, most people are convinced they exist: 89% of those surveyed believe that unconscious bias guides people’s actions. The fact that many companies are making efforts to counter prejudice and promote diversity among their employees is well received by the majority: 53% of German employees believe that employee diversity has a positive impact on the business success of a company.

“Integration and diversity are part of thyssenkrupp’s history. So we are aiming to achieve globally today what thyssenkrupp has always practiced successfully at its traditional home in the Ruhr region: Bringing people of all ages, origins and training together at work,” said Oliver Burkhard, member of the Executive Board and CHRO of thyssenkrupp AG. To counter unconscious bias, thyssenkrupp is working to raise awareness of the topic among employees and create HR tools to limit the impact of prejudice as far as possible. Examples include the awareness training the Group is conducting in India, the USA, Brazil, Germany and China. Or the rule that at least one diverse candidate must be included on the long list for a vacant position and the Group’s internal networks such as the “wow!” network for women and the LGBTI network (network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual employees) launched at the beginning of 2016.

The representative study of German employees was conducted to coincide with the thyssenkrupp Diversity Day event which was held for the first time on May 10, 2016. “Prejudices make us short-sighted. Greater vision, greater diversity” was the motto of the event at the Quarter in Essen attended by around 250 employees from different areas and hierarchy levels. 155,000 people currently work at thyssenkrupp – 60,000 in Germany and a further 95,000 around the world. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone people from 114 nations work for the Group.

One of the company’s goals is to increase the share of women in management positions worldwide. In 2014 8.8% of those in management positions were women. The figure is now 10.2% and is set to rise to 15% by 2020. To achieve this thyssenkrupp is relying on a mix of measures including improving work/family balance. With its “” program launched in September 2015, thyssenkrupp is also supporting the integration of refugees by offering a total of around 400 internship and apprenticeship places over the next two years. The first 100 positions have already been filled.

Twitter: @thyssenkrupp_en

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