Our new team members: Sandra Stadler, Frauke Becker and Philipp Rossi. Read more about our new employees.

A talk with… Nils_Séline “Nica” Schächtele

“Let’s be as courageous as possible. Intersexuality is still a big taboo topic.”

Nils_Séline “Nica” Schächtele was born in Freiburg im Breisgau and studied electrical engineering and information technology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Both before and while studying this subject, Nica was interested in professional sound and acoustic engineering. In 2002, the next stop on Nica’s journey was Straubing, where Nica joined EVI Audio GmbH (a subsidiary of Bosch’s Building Technologies business unit since 2006) as a systems test engineer.

You refer to yourself as “divers” (non-binary). What experiences have you had at Bosch with this identity?

 

DIVERSITY has been an important topic at Bosch for some years now. I have always liked the term “divers” very much because I have intersex as well as transgender-androgynous and bigender characteristics, and “divers” covers all of them. The change in the law creating the third gender option in Germany has really pushed things forward simultaneously for Bosch and for me. This year, we started to take many diverse steps together and to have lively discussions – a win-win situation for all of us. Sometimes, I jokingly refer to myself as “Bosch’s token non-binary person”. The feedback from my colleagues at the office was cautiously positive, and I got a lot of respect for being open about my gender. There was also a bit of confusion, in particular due to my two additional first names Séline and Nica. If I brought up this subject myself, the question I heard most frequently was: “Can I still call you Nils?” – which I’m OK with.

What does it mean to you to be an intersex person in our society?

 

It means belonging to a tabooed minority that is largely invisible. Sometimes I feel like we’re aliens from a Science Fiction movie: “So people like that actually exist?” “Yes, they do!!” Noticing that someone has both typically female and typically male characteristics, or finding out more details about this, or even realising that someone doesn’t fit into any traditional category, makes many people uneasy. It doesn’t match the binary view of the world that is instilled in us. It takes a lot of patience and stamina to overcome this hurdle.

“However, the biggest challenge is, and continues to be, plucking up the courage to speak openly to others.”

When did you come out in your workplace? And what challenges did this pose at your company and with your colleagues?

 

I began to come out at Bosch during a telephone call with Olaf Schreiber – the spokesperson for the company’s LGBTIQ network RBg – and then in a telephone call about the “third gender option” with Anja Hormann from the central Bosch Diversity Team. After that, I gradually informed my direct colleagues at the office, my carpool group, my supervisor and the local HR department. A wonderful video made by colleagues for colleagues on IDAHOBIT inspired me to have my first name changed to Nils_Séline in the internal company address book. It is written with the so-called “Gender_Gap” to visualise the gender continuum between male and female. I dedicated my first blog entry in the internal network to this subject and sometimes I was moved to tears by the approval I received from all over the world. On Diversity Day, our office organised a Diversity Business Lunch which I attended and where I was able to talk about non-binary gender aspects with those present. Generally, I was pleasantly surprised at how much good will and appreciation were shown to me at all levels. However, the biggest challenge is, and continues to be, plucking up the courage to speak openly to others. Not to mention the IT side, where the only options you have in many areas are male and female.

What advice would you give to intersex people planning to come out?

 

Take it slowly – small steps are best, so give yourself time. Coming out as an intersex person requires a great deal of care and courage. Things can quickly take a wrong turn. I recommend beginning with people who are not quite so close to you. After a bit of practice, you’ll find it easier to talk to your family and close friends. And get in touch with LGBTIQ allies – they’re open-minded and make very good listeners. Talking to allies will make you feel better and boost your self-confidence.

“I’d like this to be matched by a more relaxed approach – as if you’re talking about the weather or what you’re going to cook for dinner.”

What are your hopes with regard to the visibility of intersex per­sons in particular and the LGBTIQ Community in general at your company?

 

Let’s be as courageous as possible. Intersexuality is still a big taboo topic. In many places, we as a society have yet to take a clear stand against hastily begun hormonal treatment or surgery which is not medically necessary. The few who are open about their identity are inundated with letters and requests from all sides. But there are other important topics, too. That’s why I’d like to see many people – in particular many allies – spread the message that the human body doesn’t just develop into a man or a woman and that gender actually covers a broad spectrum. I’d like this to be matched by a more relaxed approach – as if you’re talking about the weather or what you’re going to cook for dinner. I experienced this on Stuttgart’s commuter trains recently and it worked really well. As regards our LGBTIQ Community at Bosch, I hope that many people will join us in the years to come, the proportion of allies will grow steadily, and gender diversity will gain an even higher profile. This applies to intersex, transgender and queer identities topics of any kind.

The evening before the PROUT AT WORK conference 2019, we hosted the second LGBT*IQ Awards to honour committed networkers in the following categories: Big Impact Initiative, Rising Star and Global Leader Network. This is our way of recognising the work done by LGBTIQ company networks that go to particular lengths to champion this topic in the workplace and strive every day to actively promote a diverse, open and tolerant working environment. Congratulations to all the winning networks on their well-deserved awards!

Big Impact Initiative Award:
Network be.queer LGBTIQ and allies at Bertelsmann

This year, the award in the Big Impact Initiative category went to Bertelsmann’s be.queer network. To mark this year’s Coming Out Day, the company published creative contributions designed to make its own employees more aware of the topic of coming out in the workplace. For example, rather than focusing just on their own group, the network used the project as an opportunity to get several generations and departments of the company involved. To this end, they initiated the first cross‑division trainee project and thus prompted several companies to consider a change in perspective. “We have a social responsibility and are a powerful instrument for the population at large. The video allows us to draw attention to the topic in society, too, using one of our trade marks – the moving image.

Rising Star Award:
MORE* network Queer@OttoGroup

The Otto Group’s MORE* network won the Rising Star Award 2019. Founded as recently as late July 2019, the network has adopted a clear role within the company with the familiar objective of bringing employees together – whether they are queer, allies or simply curious. They actively take a stand in favour of LGBTIQ diversity and against discrimination, and lend a voice to those who have not (yet) found theirs. They have already succeeded in getting the rainbow flag permanently positioned between the Group’s flags and have also ensured that, in future, employees will make their way into work via a specially created Pride Walk. Over 200 employees are now part of the network. And the clear message from all involved is: “We are convinced that in public debates corporate groups have a growing social responsibility and must actively take a stand in favour of diversity.”

Global Leader Network Award:
dbPride – Deutsche Bank’s LGBTQI network

Deutsche Bank’s dbPride network received the Global Leader Network Award 2019. Thanks to impressive activities in various countries, they demonstrated how they promote equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people. They use targeted campaigns not only to advocate actual change for the better within their own corporate culture, but also to play an active part in global efforts to change the political and societal situation of LGBTIQ people. They were actively involved in the drafting of the LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business and are among the most committed members of various initiatives, declarations and statements. Determined and effective, this network ensures that their company translates its corporate philosophy into deeds.

PROUTEMPLOYER METRO

“My goal is that in ten years we no longer have to talk about diversity and inclusion because both of these things have simply become part of life – in all areas of society.”

Laura Halfas worked for various trading and consulting companies in the areas of purchasing, distribution and IT before she joined METRO in 2008. She started in the Supply Chain Management IT area and then moved to Customer Marketing IT. Seven years later, Laura Halfas, who has a bachelor’s degree in trade and commerce, became the team leader of eCommerce, Marketing Operations & Traceability. At the end of 2017, she ultimately took over the position of Head of Corporate Responsibility. She focuses on diversity and inclusion as well as corporate citizenship.

Ms Halfas, METRO AG is clearly a very active PROUTEMPLOYER. In what specific ways does METRO champion more equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people?

 

METRO was one of the first wholesalers to sign the UN Free and Equal Standards of Conduct for Business, which ensure that all employees are “free and equal”. We also have METRO Pride, a very strong internal network. This year, the Diversity & Inclusion Days took place for the first time at our campus in Dusseldorf to spark our employees’ interest in the topic of diversity. And METRO was again represented at Sticks & Stones in 2019, the largest LGBT+ careers fair in Europe.

Which initiatives are you personally particularly proud of?

 

We at METRO initiated a position paper on the issue of blood donation because the guidelines are discriminatory. For example, homosexual men are generally assumed to engage in risky behaviour irrespective of their actual sexual behaviour and their life situation. It would be great if, together with PROUT AT WORK, we could achieve a position paper that was adopted by German businesses. That’s why I would again like to take the opportunity to invite businesses to participate in this initiative.

As Head of Corporate Responsibility, it is your duty to ensure that METRO AG fulfils its corporate responsibility for the environment and society. In your view, what responsibility do businesses have when it comes to equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people?

 

We are a people business and we work with people throughout our entire value chain. As a global company with more than 150,000 employees in 36 countries, it’s our duty to ensure that all people are treated equally and not discriminated against – be they METRO employees, service partners, suppliers or customers.

In what specific areas are you hoping for support from PROUT AT WORK?

 

I and a lot of my colleagues appreciate the networking and dialogue with PROUT AT WORK. The foundation has considerable experience and know-how. For example, it constantly provides us with new impetus to drive forward cultural change within METRO and make our jobs even more open and less susceptible to discrimination. What’s more, our activities are becoming visible outside the company. And as I said, our motto when it comes to the position paper on blood donation is: together we can do it!

You immediately agreed to an interview with us – thank you again! To what extent are equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people an issue that is close to your heart?

 

Working for equal rights is what drives me. At first, I only focused on gender equality, but then I realised that there are many areas in which there is no equality. My goal is that in ten years we no longer have to talk about diversity and inclusion because both of these things have simply become part of life – in all areas of society. However, there are still many areas in which LGBT+ issues need to be addressed. People are still being discriminated against. I want to change this. Everyone should have the opportunity to be who they are.

Ms Halfas, many thanks for talking to us!
PROUTEMPLOYER OTTO

“That’s why for me, MORE* is a very clear signal to the outside world – a signal that shows that in the Otto Group we will […] continue to be a liberal-minded, tolerant corporate group of many colours.”

Ingo Bertram is OTTO’s press spokesman and co-founder of MORE*, the Otto Group’s LGBTIQ network. Previously, Mr Bertram, who was born in Bremen, was head of Corporate PR & Content in the corporate communication department of the logistics service provider Hermes and worked as a PR consultant for international brands and groups.

You’re a very young network – only founded in 2019. Tell us how your initial idea led to the network being formed and how the first activities came about.

 

The Otto Group has long been a supporter of diversity – explicitly including LGBTIQ. A good example of this is our cooperation with Hamburg Pride, which started in 2017. Nevertheless, the Group had no official structure that specifically allowed LGBTIQ people to join together and that promoted queer topics and coordinated activities. Nor was there a central voice representing the interests of our queer colleagues. This is precisely why in May 2019 we established MORE*, a queer network in the Otto Group. At the end of July, to coincide with Hamburg Pride Week, we officially launched the network – and the first thing we did was turn the OTTO campus into a sea of rainbows, including a rainbow zebra crossing and a huge rainbow cake, through a range of activities. Incidentally, the zebra crossing is now a permanent feature on our campus, as is the rainbow flag in front of our main entrance. The cake, however, was gone within two hours!

Which challenges did you face? Where did you get support from?

 

Right from the time we established the network, we received a delightful amount of encouragement and support, not only from direct colleagues, but explicitly also from the highest management levels. I sometimes had the impression that many people were merely waiting for a queer network to finally be launched. Ultimately, our biggest challenge was therefore not only to officially establish the network within a few weeks, but also to organise a launch that met our own high standards – and to do all this without neglecting our main jobs. I was blown away by the fact that we had already got more than 150 MORE* supporters within 48 hours of the official launch on 29 July.

With Gesa Heinrichs as Executive Sponsor, you have an enormously committed person on board. To what extent does this help you in your work?

 

Whether MORE* will be a lasting success in the Otto Group depends primarily on how deeply we can anchor our vision in the group and in the mindset of our staff. A prerequisite for this is that we can motivate as many colleagues as possible to help shape the work of our network proactively and drive forward ideas. Of course, it’s helpful for MORE* to also have committed members and supporters at higher management levels, such as Gesa Heinrichs or our patron Katy Roewer, the member of OTTO’s management board with responsibility for Service & HR. This gives us better access to top management and can make coordination easier. What is ultimately decisive, though, is that our ideas, visions and wishes take hold within the company, irrespective of any hierarchies. And for this goal we need every single person.

Why is supporting LGBTIQ people a matter that is close to your heart?

 

I’d like to answer this question both from a personal view and from the perspective of society as a whole. Speaking personally, the answer is obvious because – just like many other initiators and supporters of MORE* – I am queer myself and naturally I want to work in a company that treats its employees equally without reservation, regardless of gender, religion, skin colour or sexual identity. However, this always works best when there are people in a company who are committed to diversity and set a good example. This is precisely what we want to do with MORE*.

On the other hand, what’s at least as important to me is the appeal such a commitment can have beyond one’s own job. In Germany and in many other countries, we are experiencing a partial rollback of society. Right-wing populist ideas are gaining influence, mostly at the expense of minorities, and these include not only refugees, Muslims or Jews, but also queer people. I can’t and won’t stand by and watch this happen, either in my personal life or at work, and this is how many others here feel, too. I am convinced that in this discourse, companies have a growing social responsibility and must actively take a stand in favour of diversity. That’s why for me, MORE* is a very clear signal to the outside world – a signal that shows that in the Otto Group we will not surrender to this rollback and will continue to be a liberal-minded, tolerant corporate group of many colours.

What are the next steps, and what are your wishes and goals for the network?

 

Globally, more than 50,000 people work for the Otto Group. The biggest challenge and thus the most important goal for us will be to reach as many of these people as possible. This sounds trivial at first, but it isn’t. In the coming months, we will therefore begin by redoubling our efforts to build up an internal network between our more than 120 group companies, both digitally and using regular dialogue formats. At the same time, we want to promote awareness of queer topics internally in various areas, whether it’s in marketing and purchasing, in our online shop teams or in the recruiting process. I think we’re already on the right track.

Many thanks for talking to us, Ingo!
PROUTEMPLOYER BASF

“That’s why I champion open and respectful interaction in our company – which means that everyone is seen and accepted as a unique individual here.”

Michael Heinz is a member of the management board of BASF SE. He is responsible for the areas of Engineering & Technical Expertise, Environmental Protection, Health & Safety, European Site & Network Management and Human Resources. He is industrial relations director at BASF SE and the location manager for the plant in Ludwigshafen. He has been a member of the management board since as far back as 2011 and, in this time, has been responsible for the areas of Dispersions & Pigments, Care Chemicals, Nutrition & Health, Performance Chemicals, Advanced Materials & Systems Research as well as for the South America region and “Perspectives”, an initiative which supports marketing and sales within the BASF Group.

What objectives is BASF pursuing with the PROUTEMPLOYER cooperation?

 

With this cooperation, we are signalling that BASF maintains and promotes an open, tolerant and inclusive working environment – both internally and externally. We are a founding member of the PROUT AT WORK foundation and continue to champion the interests of LGBTIQ people, because we want all our employees to feel comfortable here and not to have to hide their true selves, let alone be disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation or identity.

What activities are there at BASF in terms of LGBTIQ diversity?

 

To name one example, since 2012, we have supported the employee network LGBT+Friends at our Ludwigshafen location. This network deals with topics and concerns of homosexual, bisexual and transgender employees and sees itself as a forum for networking and sharing experiences. It is open to all interested staff. We also show our support for IDAHOT and other LGBTIQ-relevant occasions by carrying out internal and external communication activities.

Why is it important for you personally to support LGBTIQ people?

 

I have seen in my social environment what it means for LGBTIQ people to not be accepted in society and therefore to not be able to be open about their sexual orientation. That’s why I champion open and respectful interaction in our company – which means that everyone is seen and accepted as a unique individual here.

Mr Heinz, many thanks for talking to us!
PROUTEMPLOYER CONTINENTAL

“We want to send a clearly visible signal internally and externally that the topic of equal opportunities is dear to us.”

Matthias Metzger is the current Human Resources Manager of the tyres business division at Continental in Hanover. After studying business in Stuttgart and Hamburg and completing an MBA in Newcastle, he began his career in 2002 as an international trainee at Daimler. In 2005, he moved to Continental, where he has held various management roles in HR in Germany and the USA, including Business Partner, Head of Shared Services NAFTA and Head of Corporate Talent Management & Organizational Development.

Mr Metzger, as head of HR, one of your duties is to act as a bridge between job applicants, employees and management. What experiences regarding equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people have you had to date in your role?

 

In recent years, our commitment to a diverse workforce has increased considerably, including with regard to LGBTIQ people. For example, we have introduced a standardised testing procedure worldwide for our recruitment of salaried employees. This means that, even before the other documents are reviewed, an initial preselection takes place in which prejudices cannot influence our decisions. We want the best fit! In addition, we have held diversity workshops to raise awareness among all our managers worldwide and ask our staff for feedback on the issue of equal opportunities in our annual employee survey.

Having started its cooperation with us in 2019, Continental is one of the newer PROUTEMPLOYERS. What activities have there been to date in your company in relation to LGBTIQ people in the workplace?

 

The topic itself is not new to our company. However, in 2018, we decided to highlight it in a more proactive way. The first step was to hold regular meet-ups at our major locations in Regensburg and Hanover as well as regular participation in Sticks and Stones. For 2019, we are planning further activities, including a dialogue format with our HR board member Ariane Reinhart, Albert Kehrer and a number of LGBTIQ colleagues, who will report on their experiences in the company.

What prompted you to become a PROUTEMPLOYER and what do you hope to gain from our joint cooperation?

 

We want to send a clearly visible signal internally and externally that the topic of equal opportunities is dear to us. PROUT AT WORK provides a great framework for this because it increases visibility on the one hand while, on the other hand, offering different dialogue formats that allow us to learn from other companies.

You immediately agreed to an interview with us – thank you again! To what extent are equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people a matter close to your heart?

 

If, as a company, we can successfully address equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people, which is a sensitive topic for many, we will have taken a major step towards real diversity in practice. This liberal spirit will then translate into acceptance of other lifestyles and working models, thus benefitting everyone. And it helps us to make taboo issues that are more pronounced in some countries easier to get to grips with. I firmly believe that every employee has the right to be successful – in their own unique way. And this requires a corporate culture that promotes and values diversity.

At Continental, you’ve really turned the application procedure on its head. One of the reasons you rely on diagnostics instead of CVs is that you want to promote fairness and diversity. To what extent do you think LGBTIQ applicants in particular could benefit from this?

 

The replacement of our old application procedure is an initiative that many people worked on – and that also met with resistance and doubts to begin with. It has been scientifically proven than school and university grades are not a predictor of professional success, yet many human resources managers cling to them because they apparently make comparisons so easy. At Continental, we want to give all applicants a chance and ensure the best fit between the candidate and the job in each case. This can only be achieved through objective testing methods.

Mr Metzger, many thanks for talking to us!
PROUTEMPLOYER AXA

“At AXA, we place a strong emphasis on tolerance and consider diversity as an enriching and creative resource.”

Jana Tomše works in the Diversity & Inclusion department at AXA. She implements support programmes for women, coordinates diversity-specific networks of employees and stands for a culture of appreciation. Diversity is a matter close to her heart and she now sees it as an integral part of AXA’s corporate culture. While working at AXA, she is about to complete her master’s degree in business psychology at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, focusing on work and organisational psychology.

Ms Tomše, diversity has long been a topic at large companies. What is the employees’ response to AXA focusing on LGBTIQ diversity?

 

At AXA, we place a strong emphasis on tolerance and consider diversity as an enriching and creative resource. Alongside the issues of gender diversity and multi-generations, LGBTIQ diversity has been an important focus of ours for a number of years. Our employees are very familiar with this topic. In addition to our internal activities throughout the year, we have taken part in Cologne’s Christopher Street Day Parade with our own float since 2014. More than 300 AXA employees are involved in this every year.

What activities are there at AXA with regard to LGBTIQ diversity?

 

It’s important to us that all employees feel comfortable at AXA, irrespective of their sexual orientation. We therefore work constantly on increasing awareness of these issues at our company, with the help and advice of Jörg Schmidt, head of HR management and LBTIQ person of trust. What’s more, the so-called rainbow network has established itself at AXA. In cooperation with the network’s chair team, regular meet-ups, appearances at diversity fairs and, of course, our participation in the CSD are organised.

You have been in diversity management since 2018. How did you come to work in this area? And why is it a matter close to your heart to champion LGBTIQ issues?

 

My first deliberate encounter with the topic of diversity was a university project on awareness. From that point, I focused my studies as far as possible on prejudice and gender research. Last year, I met Christian Riekel, AXA’s Chief Diversity Officer, at the CSD and he asked me whether I could imagine joining the diversity team. I immediately said yes. Both in my private and in my professional life, I had observed several times how restricting it is if someone can’t completely stand by their sexual orientation. So much quality of life and development potential are lost. That’s why this topic is close to my heart.

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

 

Although I’m convinced that we have a culture of openness and tolerance at AXA, it still takes a lot of courage to stand by your sexual orientation and identity. This will remain a challenge until sexual orientation is no longer important in society.

With these challenges and opportunities in mind, in what areas are you hoping for support and input from PROUT AT WORK and in what form?

 

At AXA, we are permanently working to create an atmosphere of openness for diverse personalities. PROUT AT WORK is an important partner for us with regard to our focus on LGBTIQ issues. You provide us with a platform for dialogue, inspiration and assistance. At the same time, we would like to join together to send a clear signal against discrimination to the outside world.

Ms Tomše, many thanks for talking to us!
PROUTEMPLOYER Deutsche Bahn

“I am convinced that we need the potential of this diversity more than ever to develop the innovative strength that is required today and to perform better as a company.”

Martin Seiler has been the member of Deutsche Bahn AG’s management board with responsibility for human resources and legal affairs since 1 January 2018. Previously, he held a variety of HR positions at Deutsche Telekom, most recently director of human resources and industrial relations in 2015. In that role, he was responsible for 70,000 employees at Telekom Deutschland. As management spokesperson for Telekom Training, he was responsible for all trainees and cooperative education students in the group. He started his career at Deutsche Post in Baden-Baden in 1980. After working in different parts of the company, including for the German Postal Workers Union – which would later merge into ver.di, the German United Services Trade Union – where he also served as a member of the European Commission’s Social Dialogue, Martin Seiler took on various management positions at Deutsche Post in Bonn from 2003 onwards.

Mr Seiler, in January 2018 you took up your new role, Deutsche Bahn AG’s management board member responsible for HR. A strong focus of your current activities is on recruiting. To what extent do you think LGBTIG talent in particular could benefit from this?

 

It’s true that our recruitment is currently at a record level: in the past year alone, we welcomed more than 24,000 employees to the group. These are new colleagues who add to the great diversity of our workforce in all respects: age, ethnic origin, religion, gender as well as sexual orientation. We value this diversity and believe that it enriches our company. Our current employer campaign is called “Welcome, you fit in well” and represents exactly this openness. All motivated applicants are very welcome, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnic origin.

What activities has Deutsche Bahn offered so far relating to LGBTIQ in the workplace?

 

There a lots of examples. For instance, we were a pioneer in recognising registered partnerships: all arrangements regarding benefits for spouses of our employees (e.g. travel benefits, exemption arrangements and allowances) have also been applied to registered partners. We concluded an anti-discrimination agreement with the works council that covers both everyday cooperation and career opportunities. Our aim is to have a corporate culture in which homophobia and transphobia do not exist. That’s why I am very proud that DB employees are among Germany’s Top 100 Out Executives. We support our internal LGBT employee network “railbow” and are also active outside the company: we’ve taken part in the CSD parades for years and last year we decorated Berlin main station for the first time with flags during Pride Week.

Deutsche Bahn is part of the PROUTEMPLOYER cooperation. In your view, what are the objectives pursued by Deutsche Bahn with this cooperation?

 

Being a member of PROUT AT WORK enables us to provide specific and practical support to our employees if they decide to come out at work or with networking. We want to put them at ease, give them the chance to talk to each other and encourage them to tell us when something isn’t working so well. The numerous events and publications of PROUT AT WORK also enable us to expand our expertise relating to LGBTIQ issues in the workplace and spread new impetus within DB.

Your strong focus on HR and recruitment indicates that your colleagues have a special importance to you. To what extent are equal opportunities for LGBTIQ people also a matter close to your heart?

 

As a group comprising 200,000 employees in Germany alone, we have been championing equal opportunities, appreciation and respect for many years, and as the member of the management board for human resources and legal affairs, I am constantly impressed by the diversity of our workforce. I am convinced that we need the potential of this diversity more than ever to develop the innovative strength that is required today and to perform better as a company. Last but not least, our customers benefit from an open, appreciative culture in which employees do not hide their sexual orientation and feel comfortable in their workplace.

Mr Seiler, many thanks for talking to us!
PROUTEMPLOYER Vinci Energies Deutschland

“As the Group’s German division, we also want to take a stand and to position ourselves clearly against discrimination.”

Stefan Falk, who was born in 1968, has been head of the Fire Protection Solutions Group since 2005. After completing his engineering studies, he started his career in 1994 at a large provider of fire protection solutions, which he left after six years in various management positions. In 2001, he joined Calanbau Brandschutzanlagen GmbH and was appointed as its managing director in 2004. Under his leadership, additional companies were acquired in the same market segment and consolidated in the Fire Protection Solutions Group.
On 1 January 2016, Stefan Falk was appointed as managing director of VINCI Energies Deutschland Schutzsysteme and became chairman of the management of the G+H Group.
Since 2017, he has been managing director of VINCI Energies Deutschland together with Frank Westphal.

What prompted you to become a PROUTEMPLOYER?

 

Our VINCI Group pursues a determined policy of equality that takes action against any form of discrimination in employment and occupation. Diversity is valued and promoted at VINCI. As the Group’s German division, we also want to take a stand and to position ourselves clearly against discrimination.

Can you tell us about an initiative regarding equal opportunities in the workplace for LGBTIQ people that has already been successful in your company?

 

Specifically, we supported a person on their journey to coming out. We would like to offer all employees equal opportunities and give them the chance to come out and be able to communicate openly.

How are you hoping to get specific support from PROUT AT WORK?

 

We would like to use the network to share experiences with other companies and to be able to continue to make progress ourselves.

 

What objectives are you pursuing with the PROUTEMPLOYER cooperation?

 

We want to demonstrate that this issue is important to us. Equal opportunities is not just a slogan, but something we commit to every day.

What activities are there at VINCI Energies Deutschland with regard to LGBTIQ diversity?

 

As demonstrated by the VINCI Ethics Charter and many other measures, the subject of diversity is now an integral component of our manager training programmes. In France, VINCI has a network of more than 200 diversity officers whose main duty is to sharpen awareness and to hold diversity training in the individual divisions and companies of the group. We now want to promote and support this topic in Germany.

Why is it a matter close to your heart to support LGBTIQ?

 

Because I have experienced in my private and professional life that people find it hard to talk about being different and are reserved in their working environment. Employees who are happy and feel comfortable are able to work more successfully.

Mr Falk, many thanks for talking to us!