Diversity management in German companies: innovation through diversity

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Innovations can only arise when people are in Company think and act differently, but still work together in a team. That's what diversity management is all about. How does that look in Germany? Diversity Management in German Companies: Innovation through diversity diversity management

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Here writes for you:

Dr. Eva Voß is Manager Diversity and Inclusiveness at Ernst & Young.


Only no DC connection

Imagine they are coming to a party. You want to talk to someone, talk to a young man standing next to you. His name is Thomas. And he begins to tell about his model railway. They are not interested in model railways, but listen politely.

After a few minutes, it gets dull, because Thomas does not make any move, maybe even asking what you are doing and what interests you. With the words "I'll go get another beer" you steal from it. At the fridge you meet another young man. Funny way, he is also called Thomas. And when you ask him what he prefers spending his time with, he starts talking about model trains. Creepy, right?

Innovation alone is the result of diversity

What can be practically avoided in private life, can for Company Becoming a problem: a lot of people, all of whom are thinking in the same direction. At first you might think that was a great thing. Everyone has common themes and views, understand each other, talk to each other.

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The problem is that a company is not a closed system, but moves in markets. It has to be sensitive to the changes in its environment, in society, for technological developments.

Status quo in German companies

That's why companies are implementing the concept of Diversity Management. However, and this is one of the results, a recent study that we have done by Ernst and Young together with the company charter "Diversity Charter": Two-thirds of companies in Germany have yet to do anything in terms of diversity management!

Let's see what the remaining third does. In general, companies are struggling to make the working world more flexible. And with 29 percent the most frequent is working time flexibility. The background is clear. One thinks in particular of becoming more family-friendly and of enabling a greater work-life balance. And in confidence, a lot of staff responsible also say that they would like more women in the company. A good start but not enough.

Our blind spots

After all, diversity management is not just about women. There are other groups that often fall through the grid in hiring or promotions, such as the elderly or people with disabilities. And there are groups that encounter prejudices in the work environment because of their lifestyle or life models. Think of people who have a different sexual identity or orientation. Just put yourself in the position of a gay manager who is invited to a high-profile event, and finds in the invitation card the request: "You are welcome to bring your wife". Direct hit - what do I do now?

At this point maybe a little trip to my favorite topic "Unconscious Bias". It's about unconscious prejudices that we all have. For example, that men who are interested in model trains are stuffy and uninspired. Everyone can find a few examples of themselves with a little thought. Some of these prejudices we get from the media, others because we once experienced something with a human being and automatically put other people in the same drawer because of some of the characteristics. That will always happen.

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Business is team sports

But in business, it's about the day-to-day collaboration in the team. And it's also about decisions with economic consequences. And that's where we can not use prejudice because it interferes with our behavior and choices. After all, we all know that companies need to make money and therefore have to make decisions that benefit them.

The decision for diversity management itself is also such a one. In our study, 67 percent of companies have confirmed that heterogeneity brings tangible benefits to the company. This is also the case for a larger number of companies that have not yet done so. 76 percent think very handy and say they want to make better use of human resources. At the same time, 75 percent say they want to ensure the openness and learning ability of their organization. And the attractiveness as an employer also plays a role for 71 percent as well as the satisfaction of their own employees.

A strategic decision for innovation

So there are a lot of practical reasons for diversity management. But the most important one is strategic in nature and has to do with an insight that companies like mine can prove with internal numbers: mixed teams are simply more successful. Hardly a task in the modern working world can be solved by a single employee alone. The challenges are complex, you need different knowledge, different knowledge and experience.

Business is team sport. The result, and also the job will be good only by the others, who play along. And so, diversity management is about creating a whole new perspective on collaboration. With appreciation for each and every one of us. And with the reflection and self-knowledge, that one can not know everything and can learn something only in the open communication with others.

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