One thing is clear: only if social diversity is also reflected in companies and all people can fully develop their abilities and talents can an open and innovative environment be created. This, in turn, benefits everyone and ultimately also reflects customer diversity. However, this is not always quite so simple to implement. The PROUT AT WORK Foundation is dedicated to the topic of LGBT*IQ in the working environment. The aim: equal opportunities for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, all sexual expressions or characteristics. How can large and small companies contribute to improved equal opportunities? What are the barriers? And why should questions on raising further awareness not be ignored, despite the progress that has already been made? Albert Kehrer, Co-Founder and CEO of PROUT AT WORK, talks about this in an interview with MPULSE.
There are several aspects to this. One is being an attractive employer: openness towards LGBT*IQ is a very important indicator of an open corporate culture. It is also important that LGBT*IQ can be themselves in the workplace and therefore do not have to spend time hiding. This also has an impact on the rest of the workforce. After all, the diversity of the LGBT*IQ community means that everyone feels secure in being themselves and can therefore concentrate better on their work. Diversity thus leads to more creativity and innovation overall and should be lived by all companies.
Never before have there been so many testimonials from the LGBT*IQ community in the campaigns of large corporations. Is this already progress or just marketing?
Pure marketing is when the company just says how great it is in these aspects, when products are simply launched in rainbow colours, but when there is no communication on what it is doing for its workforce or how it otherwise deals with the issue - this is also called 'pinkwashing'. Progress is, however, when LGBT*IQ is visible at all levels of the company and is communicated internally and externally by the board of directors or management on issues such as LGBT*IQ and diversity - fortunately, there are more and more companies that are implementing this very consistently.
How exactly can companies raise awareness? Are there any best practices?
There are many ways in which companies can act and show commitment. On the one hand, they portray outed managers and committed employees from the LGBT*IQ network. Internal and external statements can be shared, for example on days such as IDAHOBIT or the International Coming Out Day. Awareness sessions can also be offered so that the workforce learns to understand issues relating to LGBT*IQ diversity. Internal LBGT*IQ networks also create additional visibility and are an important point of contact for the topic. It is also important that allies in top management take a stand against homo-, bi- and trans*phobia in internal communication, both written and verbal.
Different countries, different legal situations. How do international corporations deal with the diversity of cultural and legal conditions? After all, attitude actually means standing by one's own positioning - no matter what country you are in. Your recommendation?
On the one hand, there should be a global 'diversity statement' that also includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender characteristics and gender expression. The values behind such statements have to be global. Of course, the legal situation is not the same everywhere as it is in Germany. Nevertheless, a company should at least provide a shelter for LGBT*IQ in the workplace in its own company premises worldwide and also communicate this. Overall, the various legal situations must also be part of diversity communication. There are even organisations that publicly acknowledge the legal situation and their own opinion in certain countries and try to influence politics so that their global corporate values can be lived globally.
Diversity leads to more creativity and innovation and should be lived by all companies.Albert Kehrer, CEO of PROUT AT WORK
On the one hand, I am a realist and notice that there are increasing counter-movements against LGBT*IQ and diversity efforts not only outside Germany, but also in Germany. My wish would be that all individuals could adopt an attitude in which they let others be who they are. If we were to judge people only on the basis of their professional and social competence and not by what they look like or who they love, it would do us all a lot of good.
About … Albert Kehrer & PROUT AT WORK
PROUT AT WORK is a ‘think tank, a consultant and a designer’ in Germany on LGBT*IQ issues in the work environment. The aim of the Munich-based network is to provide equal opportunities for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and all sexual expressions and characteristics. As a board member of PROUT AT WORK, Albert Kehrer works to give LGBT*IQ a voice in the economy.
Diversity and Prout Performer List at METRO
Since summer 2017, METRO has been a member of the PROUT AT WORK network. Being a PROUTEMPLOYER, METRO wants to provide an open working environment for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, all characteristics and attributes. The employee network METRO Pride, founded in 2014, is an internal network that aims to ensure more openness, exchange and visibility. In addition, initiatives such as the Diversity & Inclusion Days make the dimensions of diversity tangible for all employees.
With the PROUT PERFORMER lists, PROUT AT WORK creates visibility for role models, who make a substantial contribution for equal opportunities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersexual and queer persons at work. The awarded PROUT PERFORMERS show that a successful career at work is possible regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In 2021, several METRO employees made it to the lists: Nikita Baranov, Executive Assistant to CHRO METRO AG, takes second place among the PROUTVoices. Dirk Haushalter, Office & Property Development Management METRO DIGITAL, is also ranked. Among the PROUTExecutiveAllies, Andrea Euenheim, CHRO and labour director of METRO AG, leads the ranking, Veronika Pountcheva, Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion METRO AG, and Laura Halfas, Global Director Corporate Responsibility METRO AG, are also listed as supporters.