PROUT EMPLOYER REWE Group
“We are best able to solve a task when we view it from multiple perspectives.”
Dr. Petra Meyer-Ochel (62), born on the Lower Rhine, graduated with a PhD in business administration from Cologne University. She then worked in personnel and management development for various retail companies, followed by 11 years as a freelance consultant. Since 2015 at REWE Group, responsible for the CoE Personnel Development in Retail Germany as well as many topics of the sustainability pillar Employees.
“It’s important to us to accommodate the interests, wishes and ideas of all our employees […].”
Kaja Gut (27), born in Frankfurt am Main. Studied in Darmstadt, graduating in 2019 with a master’s degree in psychology with specialisations in business und personnel psychology as well as occupational and engineering psychology. Has been working for the Employer Branding team at REWE Group Headquarters in Cologne since 2019, where she is responsible for REWE Group certifications, among other things.
“Without all those supporters all the way up to the executive level, a network like di.to.”
Frank Bartels (46), born in Lower Saxony, trained as a hotel manager in Hamburg before moving to Cologne in 1998 where he has been working for REWE Group for over 21 years. Responsible for event & travel management. In 2013, he initiated the LGBT network di.to. (different together) within REWE Group and is one of its two spokespeople. The network comprises about 300 employees nationally and exists in both Germany and Austria.
Top Employer in Germany with an extraordinary focus on employees for six years in a row, certified as a top training provider with the BEST PLACE TO LEARN label and recognised as an employer with a focus on balancing work and family. Was the REWE Group’s step to become a PROUTEMPLOYER a logical consequence? What motivated REWE to do so?
Katja Gut: It’s important to us to accommodate the interests, wishes and ideas of all our employees, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic or social background, religion/beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation. For us, focusing on our employees is essential, so we’re always looking to add further programs to our portfolio that could be helpful to our employees as well as potential applicants. As a PROUTEMPLOYER, we now have taken another important step, including with regards to supporting and positioning our LGBT network di.to (di.fferent to.gether).
What are your goals for the PROUTEMPLOYER cooperation?
Katja Gut: Through our network di.to, we are already actively promoting more tolerance and acceptance in the workplace, regardless of sexual orientation. We expect the PROUTEMPLOYER cooperation to add new input in this area, help extend our network and allow us to work on innovative ideas together. We are looking forward to learning new things, exchanging views with employees from other industries and sharing experiences. It’s great to meet like-minded people who support LGBT projects with the same passion we do.
Petra, you believe that the teams of the future will be mixed and diverse and you align your strategies accordingly. How is this idea being lived at REWE Group? And how can LGBT*IQ talents benefit from this philosophy?
Dr. Petra Meyer-Ochel: At REWE Group, we have mixed teams in our supermarkets as well as in our central locations – professionally, individually and with regards to the above-mentioned diversity dimensions. We are best able to solve a task when we view it from multiple perspectives. And you get these multiple perspectives when you make sure your teams are diversified. To start with, this often means more effort because all the different opinions need to be heard and exchanged. Communication is more complex as well, for example when a colleague from Retail sees things differently from someone who works in administration. But it always pays off in the end. Mixed teams frequently debate and discuss ideas that wouldn’t even have come up in a more homogeneous team. I am firmly convinced that diverse teams are more creative and make better decisions in the long term.
LGBT*IQ talents can benefit just like anyone else: openness for other people’s ideas, mutual respect and results that have been achieved together strengthen both the individual and the entire team.
Frank, in REWE’s advocacy for equal opportunities for LGBT*IQ, network and executive level work closely together, with numerous supporters in between. Is that the secret recipe for LGBT*IQ diversity within the company?
Frank Bartels: Yes, absolutely. Without all those supporters all the way up to the executive level, a network like di.to. wouldn’t have any clout whatsoever. Shortly after the network was founded in 2013, our current CEO and then-director Lionel Souque became our patron. That gave our network tremendous momentum and opened every door within the REWE Group. However, it should also be noted that acceptance within our company was – and still is – huge from the beginning and we we’ve always been able to approach various contact persons within REWE Group with our concerns at any time. It’s important to us to be able to work as transparently as possible and keep drawing attention to our campaigns and events wherever we can: for example, involving all our colleagues at REWE Group in our participation at the 2019 Cologne CSD. We don’t want to be on the sidelines, but we don’t want to be perceived as an elitist group either. So the 2019 CSD motto “Many.Together.Strong.” unwittingly became a maxim for working together at REWE Group.
From your perspectives, what advice would you give companies who are at the very beginning of their work for LGBT*IQ diversity?
As discussed, backing from an executive or from other straight allies is essential as far as LGBT networks are concerned. It gives you support, strength and self-confidence, in particular while the network is still in its infancy. Outwardly, LGBT/diversity should be an issue close to your heart, i.e. an issue that you’re comfortable promoting throughout the entire year rather than pinkwashing during Pride season. The fact that we display rainbow stickers at the entrances to our REWE and PENNY supermarkets, our toom hardware stores and our DER travel agencies positions us very credibly in this regard.