#PrideMonth22 - For a work environment where no one has to hide
June is international Pride Month and is dedicated to diversity. At thyssenkrupp, we are also committed to promoting a tolerant and cosmopolitan corporate culture on a daily basis and leading by example. We spoke to Barbara Thiel, Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness at thyssenkrupp, about diversity and tolerance in the world of work.
Only those who do not have to hide their authentic self, can give their best
As Head of Diversity and Inclusiveness, Barbara Thiel is responsible for promoting diversity and tolerance at thyssenkrupp and creating the basis for a pleasant working environment for everyone. What does she personally mean by inclusiveness? For Thiel, it's clear: "For me, inclusiveness means that everyone at thyssenkrupp is valued, feels heard and can contribute his or her full potential. For the expert, inclusiveness is above all about an open, tolerant and supportive working environment in which no one has to hide. Because: "Only in this way can employees give their best, go beyond themselves, and accordingly feel good with their employer and in their working environment.
Promoting diversity and inclusiveness at thyssenkrupp
To achieve this, thyssenkrupp has set up its own task force under the leadership of Thiel to promote diversity and inclusiveness. The team raises awareness for diverse colleagues and marginalized groups with a variety of measures that focus on representation and the importance of the issue.
"Above all, it's about having and promoting an inclusive corporate culture, and for that you need role models and good examples, the so-called "tone from the top,"" Barbara Thiel explains. For her, a tolerant corporate culture can only be established if it is also exemplified at the management levels. On the one hand through the representation of minorities at all levels of the hierarchy, and on the other through actively practiced allyship. At the thyssenkrupp Group, Chief Human Resources Officer Oliver Burkhard has set a particularly positive example in recent years by repeatedly positioning himself as Ally.
What is Allyship?
Allies are people who do not belong to a minority group themselves, but who actively and clearly show solidarity with it, take a stand and campaign for equality for all. Allies see diversity and inclusiveness as issues that affect society as a whole, and by no means only the respective minorities. "We all have a moral responsibility to take a clear stand against discrimination and exclusion," says Barbara Thiel. "If we witness discriminatory statements or actions, we shouldn't remain bashfully silent or pretend not to have witnessed anything And of course it would be great if more and more offer this as an ally /contact:in for the LGBTQIA community."
Why is the topic of diversity still important today?
At first glance, a lot has happened in recent years with regard to diversity - in companies, but also in Germany. For example, the German Bundestag has never been as diverse as it was in 2022, with currently twelve members from the queer community. Among them, for the first time, two trans women, Tessa Ganserer and Nyke Slawilk from the Green Party. But appearances are deceptive.
Particularly in the world of work, there would still be a great need to address the issues of diversity and inclusiveness in 2022, says Thiel. "Current surveys show it clearly: the workplace is often still a fearful place for many LGBTQIA employees," Barbara Thiel clarifies. When it comes to tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQIA community, the discrepancy between theory and reality unfortunately remains large, she says.
The "Diversity of Diversity“
Back in 2008 the thyssenkrupp Group signed the "Diversity Charter" to set an example for more tolerance, acceptance and diversity in the workplace. This is because the diversity of society, influenced by globalization, demographic and social change, also shapes our working environment at thyssenkrupp.
The implementation of the "Diversity Charter" is intended to help create an appreciative working environment for all employees - regardless of age, ethnic origin and nationality, gender, gender identity, physical and mental abilities, religion, ideology, sexual orientation or social background. The recognition and promotion of diverse potentials create economic advantages. Barbara Thiel is convinced: "We can only be economically successful if we recognize, promote and utilize existing diversity. This applies to the diversity of our workforce and the diverse needs of our business partners. The diversity of our employees with their different skills and talents opens up opportunities for innovative and creative solutions.
Challenges in promoting inclusiveness
According to Thiel, the biggest challenge in changing this and promoting inclusiveness and acceptance within companies, but also in society as a whole, is to change people's minds: "The majority of society has always had a hard time accepting people who are supposedly different. That is why it is important to continuously and emphatically stand up for and promote more acceptance and tolerance. Because: "In order to achieve a change in thinking, the topics of diversity and inclusiveness need to be present, paid attention to and promoted in all areas of life."
Promoting inclusiveness is important - in every respect
For companies, this is not just about equality and the well-being of their employees. In fact, balanced and diverse teams are more successful than homogeneous groups. "Organizations with an inclusive culture are twice as likely as homogeneous teams to meet or exceed their financial goals, 17% more likely to perceive themselves as high performing, 20% more likely to make high quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report that they are collaborative than homogeneous teams," explains Barbara Thiel.
Promoting and exemplifying diversity and inclusiveness in the company and the working environment is therefore important and absolutely necessary not only from a human perspective, but also from an economic one. At thyssenkrupp we are proud of our corporate culture and employees like Barbara Thiel who help us become a little more colorful every day - so that no one has to hide and feels fully accepted and integrated in the working environment.
We thank Barbara Thiel for the interview and wish everyone - whether as part of the queer community or as Ally - Happy Pride!