PROUT EMPLOYER ERGO

“I believe that in addition to the pure visibility that we achieve with pride networks, for example, other things are also important. We need to point out unconscious bias. We need gender inclusive language. ”

Markus Bader is 45 years old and lives with his partner in Hamburg. After studying business informatics, he joined Hamburg Mannheimer Versicherung, part of the ERGO Group, as IT coordinator in 2002. After 3 years he was able to take over a first management position as group leader in this area. In 2013 he had the opportunity to join a department manager position in ITERGO, the IT service provider of the ERGO Group. In 2018, he left IT with a step into business as division manager for Life Classic Operations.

 

 

As a leader at ERGO, what does it mean for you to advocate for more LGBT*IQ diversity and visibility?

 

Markus Bader: As a gay and outed executive, I think it’s important to advocate for more visibility and I’m glad that we’ve also had a pride network for a little over 2 years now and that I can get involved there. We know that there are still many LGBT*IQ people who decide against coming out in a professional context because they fear disadvantages. We need role models who make it clear that your choice of job and your career goals are not dependent on your sexual orientation.

What experiences in your career so far have shaped you in terms of LGBT*IQ?

 

Markus Bader: In fact, in the first (un-outed) years of my career, I had the experience that derogatory remarks were made about outed colleagues regarding their sexual orientation. Not always and often, but it happened. That definitely shaped me for the years to come. I didn’t feel ready to expose myself to that at the time. The confidence to come out to colleagues didn’t develop until a few years later. However, I never experienced rejection or disadvantages and to this day I am happy and grateful that I can be open with my sexuality with my employer. I was therefore all the more pleased that, in addition to the many other diversity issues, the topic of LGBT*IQ has also become an institution at ERGO with the Pride network.

You are committed to LGBT*IQ diversity at ERGO, to what extent do you receive support from your colleagues?

 

Markus Bader:

From my immediate colleagues, I feel the normality and matter-of-factness that my life model is met with is actually the strongest support. Today, I never have the feeling that someone avoids asking me how my summer vacation with my partner was, for example, just to avoid bringing up the subject. On the contrary – I experience just as much interest in my life and partnership as I do with others.

pride@ergo was founded by committed colleagues.

The Diversity Management Team has provided support from network building to the present day, and the godmother of our network is our Chief Human Resources Officer. This is an important contribution on the part of the employer and also shows me that the topic is important and is seen.

You were part of the PROUT Executives list in 2021 and 2022, congratulations again! What did that mean for you and how did you perceive the reactions?

 

Markus Bader: I was very happy about the positions on the Prout Executives list. For me personally, it was also an exciting process – I’m not very active on my social media channels, or rather a consumer than a creator. Sharing the list position on LinkedIn, among other places, was another new experience for me – and I received positive feedback without exception afterwards – from previously unknown people, from people I had lost sight of, but also from my immediate environment.

What specific actions for more LGBT*IQ diversity are you concerned about right now?

 

Markus Bader: I believe that in addition to the pure visibility that we achieve with pride networks, for example, other things are also important. We need to point out unconscious bias. We need gender-inclusive language.  We have already revised the language and image of our brand presence at ERGO. This will certainly not happen overnight, but we have made a start, and ERGO must continue to develop.

Dear Markus Bader, thank you very much for the interview!

 

 

PROUT EMPLOYER Noerr

“The challenge is to make the topic more present, to establish it as a matter of course, and also to increase commitment and visibility. It’s important to make people aware of what’s on offer at an early stage so that new employees are motivated to take part.”

Matthias Stupp is a partner in Noerr’s Hamburg office. He has been advising international companies, family offices and banks in the fields of litigation and dispute resolution since 2002. His main practice areas are commercial, company and banking law. Owing to previous positions in DĂŒsseldorf, Cape Town, New York and Hamburg, Matthias has extensive international experience which he deploys to the benefit of his clients. He is also co-heading the diversity team at Noerr.

“In my opinion, it is the nature of things to stand up as a gay man. Just as I have experienced a lot of support on my way, I also want to support other people. Therefore, it is natural for me to pass on what has been modeled for me.”

Paul Alexander Tophof is an associate in the DĂŒsseldorf office and a member of the employment law practice group at Noerr. He advises national and international clients on all matters of individual and collective employment law. One focus of his advice is in particular on the (strategic) reorganization and restructuring of companies, including the support of related negotiations with works councils and trade unions. He is a member of Noerr’s Diversity Network, where he is particularly involved in the LGBT+ field.

You were immediately ready for a joint interview – thank you again for that! Why is it a matter of the heart for you to support LGBT*IQ?

 

Matthias Stupp: The matter of the heart is explained by my own biography: how I felt myself, how I would have liked it to be. Creating visibility is important. It is part of the corporate culture and must be lived accordingly. There is no point in older partners or management dictating that “everyone is diverse from today on.” This is a topic where one’s own conviction should be visible – and that should be exemplified. Accordingly, it is necessary to approach the matter with one’s own commitment and to show others: “This is important to us because it is a matter of the heart and not a business case.” This message is important to employees_. For this reason, we build this with them from the beginning. At the same time, we create opportunities for networking.

Paul Tophof: In my opinion, it is the nature of things to stand up as a gay man. Just as I have experienced a lot of support along the way, I also want to support other people. I have already received positive feedback from many law students about how honest I am about my sexual orientation and thus act as a role model for them. Therefore, it is natural for me to pass on what has been modeled for me.

Dr. Stupp, the Noerr Diversity Committee meets regularly under your leadership. Are there any concrete plans for activities in your company regarding LGBT*IQ in the workplace?

 

Matthias Stupp: Our diversity approach is currently very diverse. The committee is made up of six people, with a wide variety of projects being implemented by smaller groups. We are dedicated to the LGBT*IQ issue with the goal of increasing visibility and bringing the idea of networking more to the fore. We want to achieve this mainly through events and memberships. Another aspect is pro bono work. We are always happy when Noerr can be active in this area and make a difference as a firm. Ultimately, we became lawyers because we want to fight for justice, including for the LGBT*IQ community.

“It’s not as hard as many people think, you just have to dare. Small actions are enough at the beginning. Everyone has a community through which networking is possible.”

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

 

Matthias Stupp: One challenge is the visibility and motivation of employees to get actively involved. Due to the natural fluctuation in a company, it is important to draw attention to offers at an early stage so that new employees are always motivated to participate. For example, if there are 50 LGBT*IQ people in a company, only half of them may want to be active. Employees from the assistant area or interns who are only there for three months may not contact us at all or only tell us at the end that they think what we are doing is great. If these people get in touch earlier, we have the opportunity to involve them better. That’s the challenge: to make the topic more present, to establish it as a matter of course, and also to increase engagement.

Paul Tophof: At the same time, I also see this challenge as an opportunity to attract young talent from the LGBT*IQ community in particular. If we create this visibility in the company and show that we are an employer where the topic of LGBT*IQ is very present and highly placed, it is a really great opportunity.

What advice would you give to companies that are still in the early stages of their LGBT*IQ diversity efforts?

 

Matthias Stupp: It’s not as hard as many people think, you just have to dare. Small actions are enough at the beginning. Everyone has a community through which networking is possible. Most companies do not know whether such a network works, because it is often not clear how many employees are actually LGBT*IQ. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you. In the end, it helps everyone.

Paul Tophof: It also helps to take advantage of the offers from PROUT AT WORK. The experience, the expertise of others to be able to profit from it.

Matthias Stupp: LGBT*IQ lives not only from the people who identify with it, but also from allies. These come to events and report, “I’m not gay, but my brother is.” They relate to it and therefore want to get involved and network beyond that. Bottom line: just do it.

What do you hope PROUT AT WORK will do for you?

 

Matthias Stupp: The networking idea is in the foreground for us. It’s hard to do everything on your own. That’s why we get help from you, PROUT AT WORK, to tackle the issue professionally. Particularly when it comes to important topics such as gendering, we as a law firm are in the process of finding out how to deal with them correctly. In this situation, PROUT AT WORK is a great support for us with its recommendations: with concrete recommendations that we can give to people. Whether it is then actually implemented in this way is another question. But despite all this, PROUT AT WORK is simply a great pool of ideas. That is precisely what we would like to see.

Paul Tophof: For us, your experience and your knowledge of various event formats, which we can take on ourselves or which we can take on together with you, is also a great support. I often find myself not knowing everything about the various topics. So it is helpful to define these topics clearly for us. That’s why this is also the support we want from PROUT AT WORK.

Dear Matthias Stupp, dear Paul Tophof, thank you very much for the interview!
PROUT EMPLOYER Simmons & Simmons

It is important to me to provide an open perspective to other members of the LGBT*IQ community through visibility as well.

Sascha Kuhn studied in Passau, Pavia and Cologne and is a lawyer and certified mediator as well as a partner in the law firm Simmons & Simmons LLP. He designs and establishes compliance programs and acts as an ombudsman for international corporations. For many years, Handelsblatt/Best Lawyers has recommended him as one of Germany’s best lawyers in the field of white-collar crime. Sascha Kuhn also organizes diversity networking events and is regional head of the Völklinger Kreis. 

What was the motivation behind becoming a PROUT EMPLOYER and what are your wishes for this partnership?

Sascha Kuhn:Simmons & Simmons has been a Stonewall Top Global Employer for several years. We have a lot going on at the international level, and we have already been able to implement quite a few things at the national level as well. However, we would like to see stronger networking with other market participants in Germany who are concerned about the topic of LGBT*IQ diversity – especially with those who also work internationally.

Are there LGBT*IQ related activities at Simmons & Simmons?

Sascha Kuhn:The German LGBT*IQ network is part of our international network. Especially in the last months, the network work was on the one hand more difficult than usual due to Corona – on the other hand, we are now much more integrated into the global network than before. We regularly see each other at events on specific topics or in casual exchanges over coffee or – so much Englishness has to be – tea via teams. In Germany, we are regularly represented at Sticks & Stones. Finally, the support of LGBT*IQ groups is the focus of our pro bono work.

Thank you for being our interview partner! Why is the support of LGBT*IQ an important issue to you?

Sascha Kuhn: For myself as a gay man it was incredibly important that my employer offered an open work environment from the very beginning, where I could simply be myself. Today, I am a partner in my law firm myself and now it is important to me to offer other members of the LGBT*IQ community an open perspective through visibility as well. 

“The direct exchange and open questions sometimes lead to an “aha” effect. And: Differentiation is necessary. The members of the LGBT*IQ community are united by many things. But there are also crucial differences in experiences and needs. What is good for gay and lesbian colleagues can completely miss the needs of trans* people.”

Where do you identify the future challenges for Simmons & Simmons regarding LGBT*IQ diversity?

Sascha Kuhn: A specific challenge at Simmons & Simmons is undoubtedly the expansion of networking and the creation of a fully open working environment in some regions. Working openly as a gay lawyer in DĂŒsseldorf is one thing – but the reality of life for LGBT*IQ people in some other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, is another. 

What is your piece of advice for companies, who did not yet discover LGBT*IQ diversity?

Sascha Kuhn: They should bring openness and curiosity with them. I often experience that heterosexual company representatives – without bad intentions – think that they know the reality of life of their LGBT*IQ colleagues. The direct exchange and open questions sometimes lead to an “aha” effect. And: Differentiation is necessary. The members of the LGBT*IQ community are united by many things. But there are also crucial differences in their experiences and needs. What is good for gay and lesbian colleagues can completely ignore the needs of trans* people. 

Dear Sascha Kuhn, thank you very much for the interview!

Coming Out Day is held annually on October 11. Launched in the USA in 1988, Coming Out Day aims to encourage people to come out, to make the LGBT*IQ community visible and to reduce prejudice.

Coming out is an identity process: it is about self-knowledge, acceptance of one’s own person, and having the courage to tell others. That’s why affected people often spend years thinking about how and when to come out. Uncertainty and fear play a big role – of the reaction of the family, of conflicts with close people, of the reaction of superiors and colleagues, often accompanied by the fear of a career break. With a coming out, affected persons therefore give a great leap of faith, which must be protected. Knowing well that parents, managers and colleagues may also have to go through a process (contradictory feelings, worries, acceptance) – they should nevertheless be strengthened right at the beginning. Communication is therefore very important: How everyone can support well, which questions should be given space (and which should be avoided), we illuminated in a joint panel discussion with our PROUT EMPLOYER Commerzbank AG.

This event took place in German. The recording of the panel discussion can be found here:

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The panelists:

“The relationship between siblings is a special one and, for me, one of the most important in the family that doesn’t stop with adulthood. For example, I was the first contact person, at least in front of my parents, when my brother came out about 20 years ago. At the time, I was overwhelmed and asked questions like, “Are you sure?”. Yet it was I myself who was unsure and felt helpless. Today, I want to create trust through education and I’m really looking forward to this exchange.”

Sofia Strabis, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Commerzbank AG

“Since my coming out, I have been open about the subject. I feel responsible for my children in particular. After all, how are they and others supposed to deal with it as a matter of course if I don’t do it myself? You can only break down prejudices if you get into a conversation. With my voluntary commitment as ARCO spokesperson and as a board member of LSVD Saxony, I therefore want to ensure visibility and also encourage others.”

Sabine Schanzmann-Wey, Regional Press Officer and ARCO Spokesperson, Commerzbank AG, Member of the Board of LSVD Sachsen e.V.

“When my daughter told us she was a lesbian in 2006, when she was twelve, I was, to be honest, a bit taken aback. Because until then I hadn’t really been aware of the queer world. This was an impetus to deal with the topic. Today, based on my own experiences as a father and also as a manager, I want to support, raise awareness and advocate for an open and tolerant work environment.”

Paul Fillmore, Divisional Board Group Risk Control, Commerzbank AG

“I know from my own personal experiences how difficult but also important it is to come out in private and at work. We all, friends, family, parents and colleagues, contribute a great deal to an open culture in society and at work. Our common goal should be that everyone who wants to come out can do so – without experiencing any disadvantages or exclusion.”

Dr. Jean-Luc Vey, Executive Board, PROUT AT WORK-Foundation

PROUT EMPLOYER ERGO

“I believe that in addition to the pure visibility that we achieve with pride networks, for example, other things are also important. We need to point out unconscious bias. We need gender inclusive language. ”

Markus Bader is 45 years old and lives with his partner in Hamburg. After studying business informatics, he joined Hamburg Mannheimer Versicherung, part of the ERGO Group, as IT coordinator in 2002. After 3 years he was able to take over a first management position as group leader in this area. In 2013 he had the opportunity to join a department manager position in ITERGO, the IT service provider of the ERGO Group. In 2018, he left IT with a step into business as division manager for Life Classic Operations.

 

 

As a leader at ERGO, what does it mean for you to advocate for more LGBT*IQ diversity and visibility?

 

Markus Bader: As a gay and outed executive, I think it’s important to advocate for more visibility and I’m glad that we’ve also had a pride network for a little over 2 years now and that I can get involved there. We know that there are still many LGBT*IQ people who decide against coming out in a professional context because they fear disadvantages. We need role models who make it clear that your choice of job and your career goals are not dependent on your sexual orientation.

What kind of support from PROUT AT WORK do you wish for?

 

Sabine Schmitz: Many companies have been involved with PROUT AT WORK for a long time and have a lot of experience. We would like to share in this, be inspired and collaborate to make our world more tolerant and colorful. All the efforts so far to make a difference are impressive. However, we will only achieve the big step if everyone is willing to take a stand for the topic of equality and against discrimination. With the help of the network, we want to become even more active in the future. We are looking forward to learning and making contacts.

FiNUM.Finanzhaus AG belongs to the younger PROUT EMPLOYER with the start of cooperation in 2021. What activities have there been so far in your company on LGBT*IQ in the workplace and are there already plans for the current year?

 

Sabine Schmitz: We are just getting started in the collaboration. Therefore we are trying to participate in many events and to take part in many activities. So far, it has been enough for us not to live any differences internally in FiNUM.Finanzhaus: we have employees of all gender identities, old and young, many nationalities, people of different faiths and sexual orientations. Now we want to contribute to promote our lived basic attitude and to carry it into our society, where still too big differences are lived. To this end, we have started to fly the flag for diversity on our social media channels and also to position ourselves in customer communications with subtle signs, such as the rainbow colors in the email signature. Unfortunately, we are convinced that it still takes a lot of courage for many people to openly and honestly acknowledge their own identity.

“Our challenge is to show that FiNUM.Finanzhaus provides an open work environment where everyone is welcome just as they are.”

Where do you see the challenges concerning LGBT*IQ diversity at FiNUM.Finanzhaus AG in the coming years?

 

Sabine Schmitz:Too many people in Germany still don’t dare to come out at the workplace. Our challenge is to show that FiNUM.Finanzhaus offers an open working environment where everyone is welcome just as they are. We have put a lot of thought into our set-up here and see ourselves on a good development path. We would be pleased if we could find more people who appreciate our way and see their professional future with us.

Dear Sabine Schmitz, thank you very much for the interview!

In an interesting interview with the magazine “Wirtschaftspsychologie aktuell”, Denise Hottmann and Marco Sticksel report how, together with PROUT AT WORK consulting, the topic of LGBT*IQ was successfully put on the agenda at PROUT EMPLOYER Boehringer Ingelheim.

The full interview can be found here. (The interview and article are German)

(Foto: Boehringer Ingelheim)
PROUT EMPLOYER Fujitsu

“LGBT*IQ friendly workplaces are part of what we do at Fujitsu.”

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez started with Fujitsu Siemens in 1999 and held several positions until 2021. In May 2021 he became Head of Sales Central Europe at Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH and Managing Director Germany. Juan was born in 1980 and is married with two sons.

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez, what was your motivation for becoming a PROUT EMPLOYER?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: We wanted to set an example. Allyship is important and, for me, this also includes to openly and visibly stand up for LGBT*IQ. The more companies position themselves here, the more “normality” the topic will hopefully achieve. We want to make a contribution here. In addition we wanted to promote internal networking, especially in Germany, because we already have a great global network with FUJITSU Pride and would like to see even more commitment from our German Workforce.

“The signing of the UN LGBTI Standards by our former President was a special moment and brought us a lot of positive feedback internally and externally.”

In 2016 Fujitsu was the first multinational corporation from Japan who promoted LGBT*IQ friendly workspaces throughout the global organisation. How did this come about and what were the reactions to this?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: There is a lot happening around women’s equality in Japan and as this happens, perceptions of other diversity dimensions are also changing. This cultural shift has made diversity increasingly important and LGBT+ friendly workplaces are part of what we do at Fujitsu, true to our motto “be completely you”. The signing of the UN LGBTI Standards by our former President was a special moment and brought us a lot of positive feedback internally and externally.

How did D&I and the corporate culture change since that time?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: With the revision of the Fujitsu Way, our current President Tokita-san has now also “literally” anchored Diversity and Inclusion in our Code of Values. This has given them the status they deserve internally and in society in general. As topics such as mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation were already clearly anchored in Fujitsu Way before, this was only cosmetics. The culture was already there.

Based on your experiences: What is your advice for global corporations who plan to engage within LGBT*IQ diversity?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: Speak to all employees and listen to all of them. Encourage the LGBT*IQ community within the company to openly share their experiences, needs, etc. Offer help and, if necessary, support in countries where discrimination is on a completely different scale than in Western Europe.

Where do you identify future challenges concerning your engagement for LGBT*IQ diversity within Fujitsu?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: To sensitize everyone in the company and to make the explicit preoccupation with the topic of D&I obsolete at some point. Because it is firmly anchored in all we do and we naturally all treat each other with respect and appreciation.

Dear Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez, thank you for the interview!

PROUT EMPLOYER Campana & Schott

“Openness and tolerance are here to stay.”

Dr. Christophe Campana is the founder and managing director of Campana & Schott. He has over 25 years of experience in (top) management consulting and is a member of various expert and advisory boards. His main areas of focus include “strategic project and portfolio management” as well as “new forms of collaboration” with a special focus on social collaboration. Dr. Christophe Campana is the author of over 50 publications on the subject of project and portfolio management.

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez, what was your motivation for becoming a PROUT EMPLOYER?

 

Juan Perea RodrĂ­guez: We wanted to set an example. Allyship is important and, for me, this also includes to openly and visibly stand up for LGBT*IQ. The more companies position themselves here, the more “normality” the topic will hopefully achieve. We want to make a contribution here. In addition we wanted to promote internal networking, especially in Germany, because we already have a great global network with FUJITSU Pride and would like to see even more commitment from our German Workforce.

Campana & Schott received three awards as a “Great Place to Work”. The list of your commitments towards the diversity of your employees is long and you are building on long-term cooperation instead of “hire and fire”. Has the PROUT EMPLOYER cooperation been the last piece of the puzzle for an open and inclusive work environment?

 

Dr. Christophe Campana: There will probably never be that one last piece of the puzzle. For us, the cooperation with PROUT EMPLOYER is an important part of our commitment, which we are constantly developing further. I keep learning new things, e.g. only recently the Federal President Steinmeier made a very clear point in the context of the anti-racism riots where he said: “It is not enough to not be a racist. We have to be anti-racists.” This view also applies to me with regard to diversity and our corporate culture. I am convinced that in the future there will always be topics that managers should deal with in the interests of their company: openness and tolerance are here to stay.

“I understood that as an entrepreneur you have to take a visible and public position on this in order to reach out to the community and signal: Live your sexuality as you want: openly or not – both are fine.”

What advice would you give to companies that are just starting their commitment to LGBT*IQ diversity?

 

Dr. Christophe Campana: At Campana & Schott there have always been employees who have lived out their homosexuality openly. Therefore, homophobia had no place in our company. For a long time, I believed that this was enough. Only later, I understood that as an entrepreneur you have to take a visible and public position on this in order to reach out to the community and signal: Live your sexuality as you want: openly or not – both are fine. But if you want to live it openly, you will not suffer any disadvantage in our company. It’s just a small step, but it does a lot – and only good.

From our experience we know that LGBT*IQ diversity has the greatest impact in a company when executives, diversity management and the company’s corporate networks regularly come together. Is that also your recipe for success?

 

Dr. Christophe Campana: Yes, I myself regularly meet with our LGBTQ+ network and have learned a lot from these meetings, e.g. the so-called “Monday lie”, when colleagues chat with each other during the coffee break about the last weekend and some prefer to describe their life partner as “a friend”.

I could immediately emphasize the stress associated with this white lie when my employees told me that they had felt like this for very long periods of time, sometimes even years. That is why the close exchange is so crucial: You start to better understand the problems of the community and can actually start changing things more targeted.

The last question: There are turbulent times coming for employees. Considering your commitment to diversity, how would you react to the statement that starting from now, there are more important topics than LGBT*IQ diversity?

 

Dr. Christophe Campana: There is a difference between the urgency and the importance. The unexpected severity with which the corona pandemic has affected all areas of life resulted in existential challenges for many companies which we will have to deal with. Just because you douse a fire in an apartment doesn’t mean that your general life in the apartment becomes unimportant. This crisis overshadows many issues, which, however, do not become irrelevant – on the contrary: I am convinced that companies with an open and appreciative culture will get through the crisis better. Diversity is an essential part of corporate identity and contributes to the performance and resilience of an organization.

Dear Dr. Campana, thank you for talking to us!
PROUT EMPLOYER Google Germany

“We support you! Now and always! That’s what PROUT EMPLOYER says, and that’s why it’s important to us at Google.”

As Director of Client Solutions, Dr. Jannika Bock is responsible for the sale of Google’s advertising products to major customers in Central Europe. She is the Exec Sponsor of GayglerDE, the LGBTQ+ Community at Google Germany GmbH. Before Jannika switched to Google in 2008, she worked, amongst others, for Axel Springer AG. She did her PhD in American literary and cultural studies, i.a. at Harvard University, and is a member of the digital advisory board of TAKKT AG.

“We want to be a company that promotes diversity and lives integrity and inclusion.”

As Vice President of Central Europe, Philipp Justus heads Google’s business in 36 countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the CEE countries. Before joining Google in 2013, Philipp was CEO of Zanox, the Berlin performance marketing network, and held various management positions at eBay and PayPal, including VP of Europe, SVP of Auctions and SVP of Global Markets. Philipp studied business administration at WHU in Koblenz and received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

As a sponsor and member of the foundation’s advisory board, Google has been associated with PROUT AT WORK since the beginning. Why did you decide to become a PROUT EMPLOYER?

 

Jannika Bock: Currently, it is important to demonstrate to the public that we at Google advocate equality for people in the LGTBQ+ community. This year, the CSD parades were canceled in Germany. As a result, a lot of visibility got lost. We would like to work against this: We support you! Now and always! That’s what PROUT EMPLOYER says, and that’s why it’s important to us at Google.

In order to keep setting new goals as well as keep up with diversity & inclusion, Google also relies on the possibility of self-identification, e.g. as trans *, non-binary or LGBT*IQ. Can data really depict the people behind your employees?

 

Philipp Justus: We want to be a company that promotes diversity and lives integrity and inclusion. We want our employees to picture the diversity of our users – this is the only way we can develop products that are actually accessible and usable for everyone. We want to create an environment for our employees in which they affiliate themselves with. This includes demonstrating the diversity of our workforce which is, for example, possible through the process of voluntary self-identification.

“In Germany there are still many, many people who cannot be themselves at work.”

Covid-19 somehow surprised all of us and we now have to deal with it. In your opinion, why does diversity and especially LGBT*IQ diversity has to remain in the focus?

 

Philipp Justus: In this PRIDE season, digital media have been more important than ever – for the first time, on YouTube with PRIDE LIVE there was a German-wide, completely virtual PRIDE event on June 27th 2020, attended by politicians, companies(such as Google), and many activists from the scene. There has been a space created to come together – a space that, unfortunately, couldn’t be on the streets this year.

Where do you see the major challenges for LGBT*IQ in the workplace in the coming years?

 

Jannika Bock: In Germany we often encounter the fast assumption that everything has been achieved and that there would be no discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community anymore – especially not in companies that actively campaign for greater diversity. However, this does not correspond to reality. In Germany there are still many, many people who cannot be themselves at work. There are people who hide their (sexual) identity from colleagues and superiors – for fear of discrimination and who are exposed to “micro aggressions” in form of taunts and hidden jokes. That has to stop!

Dear Jannika Bock, dear Philipp Justus, thank you very much for the interview!
PROUT EMPLOYER Kantar

“It’s great to see that our employee groups on gender and LGBT* topics have sparked a new dialogue beyond specialist teams.”

Dr Stefan Stumpp became CEO of the Insights Division Germany at Kantar in 2016 and has been with the company (formerly TNS Infratest) in various roles for a total of almost 20 years. A major focus of his work has been product and price research in the automotive sector – a subject he is personally passionate about. Other topics that are close to his heart are the sensitive structuring and management of change processes required in a constantly evolving company and the resulting cultural change. After studying business, Stefan Stumpp was an employee of the chair of marketing at the University of Augsburg and gained a doctorate there.

Mr. Stumpp, as CEO, you are a bridge between your company’s goals and your employees. What experiences regarding equal opportunities for LGBT*IQ people have you had to date in your role?

 

Stefan Stumpp: We are a market/social research company as well as a marketing consultancy and our mission is “Understand People – Inspire Growth”. This goal is a very fitting aspiration for our customers: we help them understand how their own customers, employees and stakeholders “tick”. To be able to achieve this effectively, however, we must understand people’s diversity and life plans and integrate them adequately into our studies and recommendations for companies. Therefore, our motto fits perfectly with the goals we have set for our staff development. Over and above our commitment to LGBT* topics, this gives us a greater understanding of how to integrate all types of diversity. This has made us better advisors for our customers.

Diversity has long been a topic in large companies. How are your staff responding to the fact that the focus is now being placed on LGBT*IQ?

 

Stefan Stumpp: We, too, have been aiming to increase the diversity of our team for many years. We take a holistic approach to the topic because equal opportunities are not just a question of gender, sexual orientation or background. As a knowledge-based company, it’s important to us that our employees can put their whole personalities into their work – this helps us leverage their full creative potential. Our colleagues at all our offices are responding very positively and with interest to the activities of our employee resource group “Pride@Kantar”. The group is open to all colleagues – whether they define themselves as LGBT* or not – and is active at our offices in Germany and worldwide. It is supported by our Inclusion & Diversity Committee and our staff development team. The group explains why it’s relevant to talk about LGBT* topics in the world of work, calls for debate – also about our policies and corporate stances – and, conversely, makes Kantar visible in the LGBT* world. It’s great to see that our employee groups on gender and LGBT* topics have sparked a new dialogue beyond specialist teams.

“Precisely in such crises, diversity gives us an advantage because looking at these situations from more angles will allow us to deal with them much more creatively.”

Kantar has been a PROUT EMPLOYER since 2019. What prompted you to focus on LGBT*IQ diversity yourselves?

 

Stefan Stumpp: To begin with, our diversity initiatives focused on balancing work and family life and therefore on equal opportunities between the sexes. We began a dialogue with all our employees on this subject and attempted to identify unconscious patterns of thinking. However, we quickly realised that diversity encompasses many more aspects. This prompted us to also start addressing quite specifically sexual orientation and gender identity as another key topic.

What do you think are the challenges and the opportunities with regard to LGBT*IQ diversity in your company in the coming years?

 

Stefan Stumpp: Within the company, we have created tremendous enthusiasm and optimism around the topic of diversity – and not just in Germany: after all, we are a global group with 30,000 employees. We have only just started to interconnect our employee resource groups and we had big plans for 2020 – especially for our work with the CSDs in Germany. The Covid crisis and its economic effects led not only to the cancellation of the CSDs. Many companies are first of all having to deal with the direct economic consequences of Covid-19. The challenge is definitely to prevent people’s attention from being diverted from staff development topics. A lot of commitment comes directly from our teams and we must ensure that we can maintain this motivation even in these unusual times. Precisely in such crises, diversity gives us an advantage because looking at these situations from more angles will allow us to deal with them much more creatively. Kantar understands people – how they think, feel, assess, consume or choose – like almost no other company.

How would you use your knowledge to make other companies understand the added value and your commitment to LGBT*IQ diversity?

 

Stefan Stumpp: Many of our customers – a large number of which are powerful brands – are faced with the question of how they can incorporate diversity into their advertising and communication and how they can become more inclusive. Some companies stick rainbow flags to the front doors of their branches/stores; others use CSDs for sponsoring or recruiting purposes: for many brands, the question of their stance – how they position themselves on issues of equality in society – has become an important subject. This includes how they deal with LGBT* topics. That’s why the inclusion of LGBT* topics in media, communication and customer touchpoints is also an area that we research and advise on, and in which we are learning not only ourselves how to improve, but can also help our customers do the same.

Mr. Stumpp, we at PROUT AT WORK are delighted to have Kantar on board. Thank you very much for talking to us!