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We were excited to welcome Wolfgang Link as a guest at our PROUT PERFORMER Lunch Talk on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.

Click here for the recording of the interview (German):

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About Wolfgang:
© Seven.One/Robert Brembeck

Wolfgang Link was appointed to the Executive Board of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE in March 2020. He is responsible for all entertainment activities of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE and is CEO of Seven.One Entertainment Group.

He joined the ProSiebenSat.1 Group in 2009 as Head of Entertainment at SAT.1, and was later responsible for all entertainment formats of the German station group as Senior Vice President, bringing ‚ÄúThe Voice of Germany‚ÄĚ to Germany, for example. From 2012 to 2016, he was Managing Director of ProSieben, became Managing Director of ProSiebenSat.1 TV Deutschland GmbH in October 2013 and took over as Chairman of the Executive Board shortly afterwards. In 2019, as co-CEO, he was responsible for merging the station brands, content, marketing and distribution operations under the umbrella of the Seven.One Entertainment Group, which will operate in 2020.

After studying communications, arts and psychology, Wolfgang Link initially worked for various musical and live productions. From 2003, as a producer and executive producer at Grundy Light Entertainment, he helped make the ‚ÄúDeutschland sucht den Superstar‚ÄĚ format a success, among other things.

PROUT EMPLOYER Hogan Lovells

“The diversity of our employees is important to me – not only because of my role as Managing Partner and Diversity Sponsor, but also personally. As a company, we function best when people feel comfortable with us and have trust in our working relationship.”

Dr. Stefan Schuppert advises companies in the field of data protection and information technology. He is Managing Partner for the German offices of the international law firm Hogan Lovells and also Sponsoring Partner for Diversity in EMEA. In 2021 and 2022, he was recognized as a PROUT Executive Ally.

Hogan Lovells has been a PROUT EMPLOYER since 2017 – so it has been committed to LGBT*IQ diversity for a long time. Why is this particularly important to you?

 

Dr. Stefan Schuppert: As a global law firm, we have been committed to equal opportunity, appreciation and respect for many years. The diversity of our employees is important to me Рnot only because of my role as Managing Partner and Diversity Sponsor, but also personally. As a company, we function best when people feel comfortable with us and have trust in our working relationship. In an open working atmosphere, we can be creative and find innovative solutions for our clients. And the work is fun! It’s a positive sign for all our employees when we commit to equal treatment for all people and an appreciative, respectful working atmosphere.

In 2022, Hogan Lovells’ LGBT*IQ network, Pride+, celebrates its 5th birthday. Congratulations! What do you see as the biggest success of the network so far?

 

Dr. Stefan Schuppert: Thank you! We are very proud that this network has been part of our everyday life for five years. Pride+ is present and active at all our locations and provides assistance even in countries where it is not so easy to promote LGBT*IQ issues. Pride+ promotes knowledge about the LGBT*IQ community, sensitizes people to diversity issues and supports the visibility of role models. And it connects us to one another ‚Äď because as “allies” we demonstrate our solidarity with our LGBT*IQ colleagues.

What advice would you give to companies that are still at the very beginning of their commitment to LGBT*IQ diversity?

 

Dr. Stefan Schuppert: My advice would be:¬† just do it and keep at it, even if the seats at the first diversity events are not booked out right away. It’s important to raise awareness of the issues. Because it‚Äôs often ignorance that leads to discrimination. This is where PROUT AT WORK, as an important partner, can help to overcome uncertainties and build up knowledge.

For the acceptance of the topic, it‚Äôs also important that the “tone from the top” is visible every day. My advice is to win over important role models in the senior management team for the topic.

Ultimately, it is crucial that all employees ‚Äď regardless of hierarchy ‚Äď are committed to the topic of diversity and help create an open and appreciative culture.

Where do you see the challenges to LGBT*IQ diversity at Hogan Lovells in the coming years?

 

Dr. Stefan Schuppert: Especially after the pandemic and in times of many very present crisis situations, it is important to sensitize employees again to LGBT*IQ and other diversity topics. Here we would like to create as many opportunities and incentives as possible. We offer exciting lunch talks with external and internal speakers, workshops, team events and much more. Because it is often ignorance that leads to insecurity, this is where we can provide our employees with concrete support. For example, with our guideline for gender-sensitive language, which we have been using for our general internal and external communications since the beginning of the year. We attach great importance to offering everyone in our office an open working environment in which they can be themselves, every day.

 

Which joint initiatives on LGBT*IQ diversity do you particularly remember, and which projects are you looking forward to in the coming period?

 

Dr. Stefan Schuppert: I remember many great joint initiatives that we have carried out with PROUT AT WORK in the past five years. For example, our inspiring networking and awareness workshops, or the ToGathering event on inclusive language with clients and the PROUT AT WORK dinner with very interesting keynote speakers. We can’t do enough to further the visibility of the LGBT*IQ community, so I’m looking forward to many more exciting projects in our cooperation.

 

Dear Dr. Stefan Schuppert, thank you very much for the interview!

 

 

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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GUEST OF THE DAY

Dr. Gesa Heinrichs
Director – Campus Management & Corporate Procurement, 5th place OUT EXECUTIVES 2019

Dr. Gesa Heinrichs is the epitome of an Out Executive! She has been with OTTO for more than 20 years and is involved in a wide range of activities in addition to her management positions. After studying and earning her doctorate in Munich and Hamburg, Gesa brought versatile knowledge from theater and education sciences to the business world.

In 2000, she began her journey at OTTO, which has since led her to the position of “Director – Campus Management & Corporate Procurement”. At OTTO, she was also a founding member of the “Power of Diversity” initiative, is still involved in the resulting LGBT*IQ network “more” today and always stands for open (corporate) culture.

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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GUEST OF THE DAY

Lars Ottmer
Head of controlling, SWISS International Airlines, 13th place PROUT EXECUTIVES 2021

Lars has worked in various positions at SWISS International Airlines and its parent Lufthansa Group since 2000. At the moment, he is the Head of Controlling at SWISS, and before that he held senior positions in HR, leadership development, market and fleet strategy within the Group. He has twice acutely fought for the survival of SWISS during this time, most recently because of the Corona pandemic.

Within the Group, Lars is committed to the LGBT*IQ community and open interaction. For example, he helped SWISS take a barely veiled stand in the ‚Äúmarriage for all‚ÄĚ referendum in Switzerland, and in his younger years he was also a political activist, including as a member of the city of Zurich‚Äôs parliament. In his wild party years, he was also a co-organizer of the Zurich ‚ÄúStreet Parade‚ÄĚ.


Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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Guest of the day

Max Appenroth
Trans* activist, diversity consultant, moderator, PhD student at Charité University Medicine Berlin, Research & Community Sexual Health Officer for GATE -Global Action for Trans Equality.

Max is so involved in so many ways that we don’t really know where to start – Max is a trans* activist, diversity consultant, moderator and is doing his PhD at the Institute for Public Health at Charit√© Universit√§tsmedizin Berlin. Max also works as a Research & Community Sexual Health Officer for GATE – Global Action for Trans Equality. Besides all his work and commitment, Max also won the election for Mr. Gay Germany 2022.

With their own company ‘diversity sparq’, Max offers workshops and trainings for companies, institutions and med/nursing care facilities that want to experience and learn more about sexual and gender diversity.

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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Guest of the day

Birgit Spors
Head of Marketing + Digital Channels (Director) at KfW Bankengruppe
3rd place PROUTExecutives 2021

Birgit Spors is responsible for all customer interfaces at KfW Germany. In this role, she plays a key role in driving KfW’s connectivity to the digital economy. She wants to make funding simple, digital and accessible everywhere. Internally, she is involved in KfW’s Rainbow Network and, through her management function, also sends an important signal that equal opportunities are a reality at KfW and that she is an exemplary diversity employer.

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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guest of the day

Dr. Christophe Campana
Founder and Managing Director of Campana & Schott
3rd place PROUTExecutiveAllies 2021

Dr. Christophe Campana is founder and managing director of the Campana & Schott group of companies. He has over 25 years of experience in (top) management consulting and is a member of various expert and advisory boards. He has been instrumental in shaping the company’s open, tolerant and diverse culture from the very beginning.

Christophe is also a sponsor and one of the biggest supporters of Campana & Schott’s LGBTQ+ network SCOUT. He has already accompanied the community on its way to coming out and is its trusted ally, advisor and friend.

Bi-Visibility Day 2021 has been held annually since 1999. Today marks the end of Bisexual Awareness Week, which took place this year between September 16th-23rd 2021. It is intended to raise both awareness and create visibility for bisexual people, their concerns, and experiences of discrimination. Bisexuality is also often used as an umbrella term for various bi-identities. These include, for example, bisexuals, bicurious persons, pansexuals, polysexuals, multisexuals, and omnisexuals.

The term bisexuality is formed from the Latin word “bi” (meaning “two”) and stands (literally and in binary terms) for interest in one’s own gender as well as the opposite gender. Nowadays, with the progressive dissolution of the binary norm through non-binary gender identity and other expressions of gender, there have long been discourses about how binary this sexual orientation should really be seen. It is important that each bisexual defines bisexuality for themselves, including, for example, non-binary or trans* people. As an overall definition it can be stated that bisexuality describes the attraction to two or more genders.

The symbolism behind the colors of the bisexuality flag:

  • Pink represents both emotional and sexual attraction to the same gender.
  • Purple stands for the “overlap,” the symbolism for interest in two or more genders.
  • Blue represents the emotional as well as sexual attraction towards the opposite gender.

INTERVIEW WITH PROUT EXECUTIVE DR. FOLMA KISER, DIRECTOR AT BAYER AG

© Steffen Kugler / Dr. Folma Kiser

What formative experiences related to your bisexuality have you had (in the workplace)?

To be honest, few. Surprised faces is perhaps one thing and complete silence another. But a really great experience was when a colleague told me that he now dares to be open about his sexuality. He saw me on the PROUTExecutives list and is convinced that you can live your identity openly at Bayer and still have a career. That has encouraged him a lot.

How is the topic of bisexuality addressed in your workplace?

Sexuality is generally not addressed, except in the internal LGBT*IQ network BLEND and marginally in the topic of D&I.

What challenges do you face as a bisexual person or what stereotypes do you face?

I see myself less confronted with challenges as a bisexual person but more as a rainbow family in general. You can see that, for example, the terms “gay”, “lesbian” and “bi” are still used as swear words in schoolyards (and not only there) and also educators and teachers avoid the topic of LGBT*IQ and inclusion in general. Social acceptance is still difficult when the major democratic parties react here only half-heartedly. The pressure on other countries like the G7 is also not there, so same-sex marriages are not recognized in all G7 states. My wife did not even get a “residence status” in Japan, whereas our children and I got it during our stay.

What else would you have wished for your coming out?

For me, that was still at the beginning of the Internet era, more networked groups would have been great here. I think that the information available and networks in general are much better today. And also if the topic LGBT+ had been on the curriculum at school – then everyone who is not hetero-cis would have had an easier time understanding their identity.

STATEMENTS BY ACCENTURE EMPLOYEES ON THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH BISEXUALITY

© Accenture

Teresa Pieper – Management Consultant

Hello, my name is Teresa (she/her) and I work as a business consultant in financial services. I was 30 years old when I realized that I was attracted to people regardless of their gender.

I’ve never been uncomfortable with men, and that’s the reason I didn’t realize I was also attracted to women and other genders.

With greater visibility of people identifying as bisexual, I would have been able to recognize it much sooner and thus feel like it was a serious sexual orientation and not just “a phase” or “being confused.” Role models and a general acceptance of bi-sexuality are so important for us to show that sexuality is not just either straight or gay.

An inclusive and informative work environment helps me be myself, continue to learn, educate colleagues and friends, and feel safe when facing clients. I know my employer always has my back.

© Accenture

Vanessa Zimmermann – Executive Support Analyst

I wish those around me had taken it seriously and not just declared it as a “phase”. Most people were surprised and the instant reaction was usually, “You don’t look like that” – which can be frustrating.

Bisexuality is not the most present topic in the LGBT+ community, most people are open to it, but I often get negative comments like, “You need to make up your mind” or “It’s just not the real thing” – people just don’t take it seriously. For the same reasons, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about our local celebration of Bisexual Visibility Day. Some people don’t know any better, and these venues can help us raise awareness to keep moving forward toward a more inclusive work environment.

© Felix Steinhardt

Felix Steinhardt – Digital Business Consultant

As PRIDE Lead Germany, one of my tasks is to support all members of our community as much as possible. For me, the importance of visibility is fundamental to creating a closer connection to our members and their stories. As a bisexual person, I know that sometimes it can be hard to resist the labels that others want to put on us, but hey‚Ķ. there’s nothing like being proud of who you are!

Our commitment to diversity is felt everywhere and helps our teams create innovative solutions. No one has to pretend – mutual respect and empathy make us one big family.

© Timona Borhanuddin

Timona Borhanuddin – Technology Strategy & Advisory

I was born in Hamburg. However, when I was six years old, I moved back to Bangladesh with my family. Due to the cultural and traditional norms in Bangladesh, I was confronted with many stereotypes as a child and teenager. I was taught how to be the perfect housewife for a man, and that you have to get married to make your parents proud. It was not easy to break all these stereotypes.

Today, I am OUT, LOUD, and PROUD of the fact that I am successful professionally, that I stand by my bisexuality, and that I have accomplished everything on my own terms. Stereotypes are set by society, and we can overcome them if we believe in ourselves and are open about it.

Before coming to Accenture, I worked at a smaller consulting firm where I didn’t feel like I could be myself. I didn’t dare talk openly about my sexual orientation or LGBT+ issues at my previous employer. That’s all the more reason why, when I changed employers, I made sure I was seen as a person. I firmly believe that we all work better and are more successful as a team when we create an open and tolerant environment where we can respect each other and all be ourselves.

At Accenture, you are motivated and supported to bring your authentic self to the workplace.If that means talking about your sexual orientation, you should be able to do so easily.

Accenture promotes an inclusive workplace and creates an environment where everyone can develop and flourish and be themselves to the best of their ability with special LGBT+ training, mentoring programs and a modern understanding of leadership and open exchange.

The statements are based on the personal experiences and opinions of employees and therefore do not reflect the opinions of Accenture or Bayer.

TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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GUEST OF THE DAY
© Bela Raba

Erwin Aljukic
Ensemble member at M√ľnchner Kammerspiele
2nd Place PROUTinMediaArtCulture 2021

In addition to his work as an actor, dancer, speaker and model, Erwin Aljukic, an artist with a disability, migration background and homosexual, has been continuously active in intersectional public relations for equal rights and equal opportunities for various marginalized groups for 24 years now.

Accompanying his artistic work in film/TV and on stage, he takes part in various campaigns, is an interview partner on TV, radio as well as in print and on social media channels, with the goal of making people with disabilities, the LGBT community and people with a migration background visible in media as well as in art.

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.

This event took place in German.

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GUEST OF THE DAY
© Sandra Jana Vollmer

Sandra Vollmer
Board Member Finance and HR at 1&1 Mail & Media Applications SE
2nd Place PROUTExecutives 2021

Sandra Vollmer is responsible for the financial management of the 1&1 Mail und Media subgroup, known by its Web.de and GMX brands. In particular, she is responsible for supporting the company’s transition to a data platform-based digital business model and the associated change processes. She is also responsible for Corporate Controlling, Accounting, Tax and Procurement at the United Internet Group’s shared service company.

For Sandra Vollmer, equal opportunity is a fundamental part of the business. After all, it’s all about motivating qualified employees with exciting tasks and delivering top performance. In this context, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, gender and gender identity, age, disability or sexual orientation are completely irrelevant, but rather reflect the reality of a modern society to which, on the other hand, we provide our products and services.
In reality, unfortunately, we still encounter people who do not fully accept equal opportunities and in some cases represent traditional, outdated world views. Therefore, it is of great importance to Sandra Vollmer to actively demonstrate her own understanding of equal opportunities every day, for example in the staffing of projects, jobs and management positions. In addition, Sandra Vollmer supports internal company initiatives, such as the promotion of women in management positions. Her outing in a professional context took place in December 2020, so that her own transition, i.e. acceptance and “arriving” as a woman, was the main focus.