A talk with… Dr. Ariane Reinhart

“For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course.”

You support the Out Executives as a member of the jury. Why is that topic important to you?

 

At Continental, diversity is part of our DNA and a catalyst for our innovative power. Only the diverse perspectives, characteristics, experiences and cultures of our employees make our company innovative. For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course. As long as there is conscious or unconscious exclusion in our society, we will be fully committed to promoting the inclusion and support of our LGBT*IQ colleagues.

At Continental you have a standardized procedure in the application process, so that no prejudices are introduced when selecting candidates. What actions are taken to also reduce prejudice against LGBT*IQ-topics in the workforce?

 

Appropriate trainings and initiatives worldwide show our employees that diversity in all its facets is a matter of course, forexample, that the topic is given enough space. This includes Diversity Days at Continental, which as awareness events convey the different dimensions of diversity at our locations and highlight the importance of the topic around the world. In our current 28 Diversity Networks we aim to strengthen and make our diversity visible, to exchange views and to promote mutual understanding.

Continental operates globally. How do you rate the implementation of diversity in Germany, compared to other countries in which you are operating?

 

Comprehensive diversity management in companies is becoming increasingly recognized – and this applies worldwide. Although our economic and social environment is constantly changing, a profound cultural change – and that is what we are talking about in the appreciation and inclusion of diversity – takes time. Realizing and appreciating the added value of diversity requires a change in our mindset. We are taking the necessary clarity and rigor against discrimination of any kind, and, as a company, we have committed ourselves to this and will continue to do so.

A talk with… Dr. Ariane Reinhart

“For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course.”

You support the Out Executives as a member of the jury. Why is that topic important to you?

 

At Continental, diversity is part of our DNA and a catalyst for our innovative power. Only the diverse perspectives, characteristics, experiences and cultures of our employees make our company innovative. For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course. As long as there is conscious or unconscious exclusion in our society, we will be fully committed to promoting the inclusion and support of our LGBT*IQ colleagues.

At Continental you have a standardized procedure in the application process, so that no prejudices are introduced when selecting candidates. What actions are taken to also reduce prejudice against LGBT*IQ-topics in the workforce?

 

Appropriate trainings and initiatives worldwide show our employees that diversity in all its facets is a matter of course, forexample, that the topic is given enough space. This includes Diversity Days at Continental, which as awareness events convey the different dimensions of diversity at our locations and highlight the importance of the topic around the world. In our current 28 Diversity Networks we aim to strengthen and make our diversity visible, to exchange views and to promote mutual understanding.

Continental operates globally. How do you rate the implementation of diversity in Germany, compared to other countries in which you are operating?

 

Comprehensive diversity management in companies is becoming increasingly recognized – and this applies worldwide. Although our economic and social environment is constantly changing, a profound cultural change – and that is what we are talking about in the appreciation and inclusion of diversity – takes time. Realizing and appreciating the added value of diversity requires a change in our mindset. We are taking the necessary clarity and rigor against discrimination of any kind, and, as a company, we have committed ourselves to this and will continue to do so.

A talk with… Dr. Ariane Reinhart

“For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course.”

You support the Out Executives as a member of the jury. Why is that topic important to you?

 

At Continental, diversity is part of our DNA and a catalyst for our innovative power. Only the diverse perspectives, characteristics, experiences and cultures of our employees make our company innovative. For us, an open working environment – regardless of personal differences such as sexual orientation, gender identity or origin – is a matter of course. As long as there is conscious or unconscious exclusion in our society, we will be fully committed to promoting the inclusion and support of our LGBT*IQ colleagues.

At Continental you have a standardized procedure in the application process, so that no prejudices are introduced when selecting candidates. What actions are taken to also reduce prejudice against LGBT*IQ-topics in the workforce?

 

Appropriate trainings and initiatives worldwide show our employees that diversity in all its facets is a matter of course, forexample, that the topic is given enough space. This includes Diversity Days at Continental, which as awareness events convey the different dimensions of diversity at our locations and highlight the importance of the topic around the world. In our current 28 Diversity Networks we aim to strengthen and make our diversity visible, to exchange views and to promote mutual understanding.

Continental operates globally. How do you rate the implementation of diversity in Germany, compared to other countries in which you are operating?

 

Comprehensive diversity management in companies is becoming increasingly recognized – and this applies worldwide. Although our economic and social environment is constantly changing, a profound cultural change – and that is what we are talking about in the appreciation and inclusion of diversity – takes time. Realizing and appreciating the added value of diversity requires a change in our mindset. We are taking the necessary clarity and rigor against discrimination of any kind, and, as a company, we have committed ourselves to this and will continue to do so.

A talk with… Jenny Friese

“The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation.”

Last year you put in a lot of effort for the LGBT*IQ-Community at the Commerzbank and brought the issue right up to Board level. What has happened since then?

 

Through various activities we have achieved more visibility including an event about LGBT*IQ-involvement as a factor of commercial success, participated in the CSD in Berlin with our own truck and we have had a reading with Jens Schadendorf. Along with our LGBT*IQ-staff-network Arco of which I am the patron we have sensitized many people within the bank making for a more open community spirit. As a result, many staff have told their own stories in our staff magazine therefore making themselves available as role models.

Many people fear that outing themselves will damage their career. What has to happen to reduce and even eliminate this fear altogether?

 

It is incredible that staff even today still have such worries. For diversity to become normal we have to experience the relevant values within the company and create structures to make possible open interaction which is free of prejudice.  Visible role models who have outed themselves help as do diversity units and consistent management behaviour such as dealing with discriminatory comments and behaviour. This is clearly a challenge for everybody – irrespective of their sex, nationality, health or sexual orientation.

Why are heterogenous teams more successful in companies?

 

The answer to this is, in the meantime, proven by many studies such as that of the Institute for Diversity and Anti-discrimination Research Out in the Office?! And this does not just apply to bringing together and promoting many different people irrespective of origin, age, sex or other characteristics for LGBT*IQ Diversity.  The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation. Based on my own experience I can say at least that diverse teams always produce outstanding results.

 

 

A talk with… Jenny Friese

“The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation.”

Last year you put in a lot of effort for the LGBT*IQ-Community at the Commerzbank and brought the issue right up to Board level. What has happened since then?

 

Through various activities we have achieved more visibility including an event about LGBT*IQ-involvement as a factor of commercial success, participated in the CSD in Berlin with our own truck and we have had a reading with Jens Schadendorf. Along with our LGBT*IQ-staff-network Arco of which I am the patron we have sensitized many people within the bank making for a more open community spirit. As a result, many staff have told their own stories in our staff magazine therefore making themselves available as role models.

Many people fear that outing themselves will damage their career. What has to happen to reduce and even eliminate this fear altogether?

 

It is incredible that staff even today still have such worries. For diversity to become normal we have to experience the relevant values within the company and create structures to make possible open interaction which is free of prejudice.  Visible role models who have outed themselves help as do diversity units and consistent management behaviour such as dealing with discriminatory comments and behaviour. This is clearly a challenge for everybody – irrespective of their sex, nationality, health or sexual orientation.

Why are heterogenous teams more successful in companies?

 

The answer to this is, in the meantime, proven by many studies such as that of the Institute for Diversity and Anti-discrimination Research Out in the Office?! And this does not just apply to bringing together and promoting many different people irrespective of origin, age, sex or other characteristics for LGBT*IQ Diversity.  The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation. Based on my own experience I can say at least that diverse teams always produce outstanding results.

 

 

A talk with… Jenny Friese

“The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation.”

Last year you put in a lot of effort for the LGBT*IQ-Community at the Commerzbank and brought the issue right up to Board level. What has happened since then?

 

Through various activities we have achieved more visibility including an event about LGBT*IQ-involvement as a factor of commercial success, participated in the CSD in Berlin with our own truck and we have had a reading with Jens Schadendorf. Along with our LGBT*IQ-staff-network Arco of which I am the patron we have sensitized many people within the bank making for a more open community spirit. As a result, many staff have told their own stories in our staff magazine therefore making themselves available as role models.

Many people fear that outing themselves will damage their career. What has to happen to reduce and even eliminate this fear altogether?

 

It is incredible that staff even today still have such worries. For diversity to become normal we have to experience the relevant values within the company and create structures to make possible open interaction which is free of prejudice.  Visible role models who have outed themselves help as do diversity units and consistent management behaviour such as dealing with discriminatory comments and behaviour. This is clearly a challenge for everybody – irrespective of their sex, nationality, health or sexual orientation.

Why are heterogenous teams more successful in companies?

 

The answer to this is, in the meantime, proven by many studies such as that of the Institute for Diversity and Anti-discrimination Research Out in the Office?! And this does not just apply to bringing together and promoting many different people irrespective of origin, age, sex or other characteristics for LGBT*IQ Diversity.  The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation. Based on my own experience I can say at least that diverse teams always produce outstanding results.

 

 

A talk with… Jenny Friese

“The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation.”

Last year you put in a lot of effort for the LGBT*IQ-Community at the Commerzbank and brought the issue right up to Board level. What has happened since then?

 

Through various activities we have achieved more visibility including an event about LGBT*IQ-involvement as a factor of commercial success, participated in the CSD in Berlin with our own truck and we have had a reading with Jens Schadendorf. Along with our LGBT*IQ-staff-network Arco of which I am the patron we have sensitized many people within the bank making for a more open community spirit. As a result, many staff have told their own stories in our staff magazine therefore making themselves available as role models.

Many people fear that outing themselves will damage their career. What has to happen to reduce and even eliminate this fear altogether?

 

It is incredible that staff even today still have such worries. For diversity to become normal we have to experience the relevant values within the company and create structures to make possible open interaction which is free of prejudice.  Visible role models who have outed themselves help as do diversity units and consistent management behaviour such as dealing with discriminatory comments and behaviour. This is clearly a challenge for everybody – irrespective of their sex, nationality, health or sexual orientation.

Why are heterogenous teams more successful in companies?

 

The answer to this is, in the meantime, proven by many studies such as that of the Institute for Diversity and Anti-discrimination Research Out in the Office?! And this does not just apply to bringing together and promoting many different people irrespective of origin, age, sex or other characteristics for LGBT*IQ Diversity.  The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation. Based on my own experience I can say at least that diverse teams always produce outstanding results.

 

 

A talk with… Jenny Friese

“The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation.”

Last year you put in a lot of effort for the LGBT*IQ-Community at the Commerzbank and brought the issue right up to Board level. What has happened since then?

 

Through various activities we have achieved more visibility including an event about LGBT*IQ-involvement as a factor of commercial success, participated in the CSD in Berlin with our own truck and we have had a reading with Jens Schadendorf. Along with our LGBT*IQ-staff-network Arco of which I am the patron we have sensitized many people within the bank making for a more open community spirit. As a result, many staff have told their own stories in our staff magazine therefore making themselves available as role models.

Many people fear that outing themselves will damage their career. What has to happen to reduce and even eliminate this fear altogether?

 

It is incredible that staff even today still have such worries. For diversity to become normal we have to experience the relevant values within the company and create structures to make possible open interaction which is free of prejudice.  Visible role models who have outed themselves help as do diversity units and consistent management behaviour such as dealing with discriminatory comments and behaviour. This is clearly a challenge for everybody – irrespective of their sex, nationality, health or sexual orientation.

Why are heterogenous teams more successful in companies?

 

The answer to this is, in the meantime, proven by many studies such as that of the Institute for Diversity and Anti-discrimination Research Out in the Office?! And this does not just apply to bringing together and promoting many different people irrespective of origin, age, sex or other characteristics for LGBT*IQ Diversity.  The more heterogenous teams are and the more they make for an open culture the more they will be prepared to go in new directions and drive forward innovation. Based on my own experience I can say at least that diverse teams always produce outstanding results.

 

 

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.

A talk with… Ise Bosch

“Dismantle what’s left of our own prejudices!”

Ise Bosch is the founder and CEO of Dreilinden gGmbH in Hamburg, an organisation that advocates for the rights of lesbian, bi, trans* and inter people, women, and girls, and a co-founder of the women’s foundation filia.die frauenstiftung.

The certified eco investment advisor publicly supports a responsible and sustainable wealth management. In 2003, she and other women founded a network for heiresses, Erbinnen-Netzwerk Pecunia e. V. Her book “Besser spenden! Ein Leitfaden für nachhaltiges Engagement” (“Donating better! A guide to sustainable commitment”) was published by C.H. Beck in 2007, and her book “Geben mit Vertrauen” (“Giving with Trust”) was released in 2018.

In 2017, Ise Bosch received the Transformative Philanthropy Award of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice in New York City. In 2018, she was awarded the German Female Founders’ Prize.

Ms Bosch, why are you and your organisation Dreilinden advocating for LGBT*IQ people worldwide?

 

The question really should be: Why aren’t more people and institutions advocating for them?

LGBTIQ people are among the most at-risk social groups by any measure. Trans women are almost fifty times more likely to be HIV positive than the population average, for example, and hardly anyone makes more suicide attempts than young LGBTQ people. Yet Dreilinden is one of only two foundations in Germany specialising in this field and supporting it internationally. German funding for this cause worldwide – including public subsidies – amounted to a modest 3.1 Mio. Euros in 2016. This includes 684.000 Euros from Dreilinden, which is more than the Ministry for Development is dedicating to the issue.

One of the issues we will discuss at our 2018 PROUT AT WORK Conference is the situation of LGBT*IQ people in Russia as well as in Africa and the Arab world. Where do you see differences in working towards equality within the various global regions? Where do you see commonalities?

 

Any answer to this will have to be very general, and there will always be counter examples. But we generally find that cultures with a strong religious influence tend to reject gender diversity – not just Islam, but Catholic and evangelical Christian religions as well. So-called persecutor states with severe legal discrimination up to and including the death penalty for sexual acts between men can mostly be found in formerly colonised countries. The roots of persecution stem from colonial times – their moral laws are often still those of the colonial powers! They are an enormously powerful legacy of missionary work – by us Europeans. Structural social discrimination makes life for queer people just as dangerous as legal discrimination – in particular if a culture is strongly patriarchal, like many societies in the former Eastern Bloc, notably in Russia, Ukraine and the Central Asian republics. And where a society closes itself off and becomes more nationalistic and militaristic, gender binarity is enforced, and that invariably happens at the expense of sexually and gender-diverse people.

In your view, is there a corporate responsibility for LGBT*IQ people worldwide?

 

Of course! For one thing, it is simply part of their responsibility for their employees – whether these belong to the “community” themselves, or their friends or relatives do, or they simply want the freedom to grow as individuals. Companies obviously have an interest in their employees’ wellbeing, not just because productivity will suffer otherwise but simply because of their responsibility as employers. And that means they also have an interest in more liberal laws. The fact that some employees cannot be posted to Singapore because of its discriminating laws is unacceptable. But as long as these laws and social taboos exist, these employees need points of contacts within their companies who can advise them confidentially. To do this, companies must make their support for diversity and their efforts to gain the required expertise very clear. After all, it’s not just about the small number of gay and lesbian people or the even smaller number of trans and inter people, it’s about development opportunities for everyone. Sociology now knows that significantly more people change their sexual orientation during their lifetime than previously assumed.

In a 2016 study, the Center for Talent Innovation stated that companies should not underestimate the influence of their economic power in the struggle for legal equal opportunities for LGBT*IQ people. Where do you see concrete scope for action for globally operating companies?

 

In at least two respects: First of all, they can offer non-discriminatory jobs, and, in case of a conflict, protection. Secondly, they have very special access to local administrations, governments etc. Not just for formal interventions – via their connections as well. Powerful “expatriates” in particular meet people with all kinds of influence and can, or could, provide assistance like almost nobody else. Not just in emergency situations, obviously, but with regards to broadening horizons as well, through their more liberal attitude. Homophobia and transphobia have a strong component of plain ignorance – people aren’t familiar with the issue, they have questions, but they don’t ask them openly because they feel insecure and are afraid of some kind of “contagion”. We have to create situations that allow legitimate questions to be asked, and we need to answer them. Naturally, a face-to-face conversation and a confidential setting are the best way to do this. People with a certain standing are also in a position to change biographies for the better, even if they aren’t part of the “community”.

We live in ambivalent times. In the fourth edition of your Rainbow Philanthropy, you described both a growing understanding that discrimination against LGBT*IQ people is unjust and the fact that their situation is becoming no less, if not more, precarious. What can each of us do individually to make the world a better place for LGBT*IQ people?

 

Dismantle what’s left of our own prejudices! Dare to ask our own critical questions: At what point do I get embarrassed, where do my fears lie? And then speak out publicly regardless. And build real friendships. Personal friendships are an irreplaceable asset in being able to stand up for people who are different with regards to gender or sexuality. And much of it is transferrable, it applies to China just as much as it does to Chemnitz.

What do you think the future holds for the equality of LGBT*IQ human rights?

 

As far as this issue is concerned, globalisation is particularly powerful, and certainly irreversible. People have always expressed themselves diversely with regards to gender – but now it gets captured everywhere across our media and thus becomes visible. I expect a back and forth battle for many, many years to come, between those who feel threatened and fight this diversity, and young people who simply are who they are. However, their tools have become more powerful. I believe that in the not too distant future, “community” and help will be accessible for all gender-diverse people in some way. Even if our democratic systems are currently becoming increasingly precarious – this medial, lived diversity won’t go away. For individuals, this will be a massive step forward compared to now where most young gender-diverse people still believe they are the only ones with this “defect”.