PROUT EMPLOYER 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?
Jana Tomše: 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?
Jana Tomše: 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.
“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.”
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?
Jana Tomše: 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?
Jana Tomše: 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?
Jana Tomše: 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.