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Aug

Diversity – the thing that makes companies special

 

In school days one was understandably reluctant to belong to those who were different, because then you would automatically be an outsider. However, what we also learned during childhood through certain fairytales such as “The Bremen Town Musicians” was that you could achieve a lot when different characters work together. In this fairytale animals that became apparently useless manage to frighten robbers. The robbers were forced to flee and leave their house. They never came back. I can hardly imagine how a rooster or a donkey could have done that completely on their own. The secret is: together when being different. Since an accepted “being different” requires a considerable amount of courage, such an awareness is being developed by and by. It must be seen as a process. The Bremen Town Musicians reacted due to a common exceptional or emergency situation. They could then use their difference as a convincing instrument.

Within business, the thought of being different (diversity) has its origin in the 1970s. Due to the internationalization, European companies then managed to discover the American approach with the central idea of “appreciating the difference of people”.[1]

Why am I dealing with this topic? Already after my second interview during my application phase at TEAMWILLE, I met so many different characters – a varied mixture of diversity in terms of their skills, their age and above all their values: Risk or chance? Danger or benefit? And: Do I fit into this? Am I also different? Moreover, I asked myself whether this diversity approach is only a frequently used phrase to prevent discrimination. Or, are there maybe appreciable and noticeable advantages due to the exciting potpourri of different people.

What is diversity management?

The phrase Diversity Management describes the appreciation and utilization of diversity within companies. Mainly there are three different reasons for Diversity Management [2]:

  • Ethics, fairness, right and legitimacy in the sense of a Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Changes within the relevant product and job markets
  • Competition, value increase and strategy optimization
  • It is the aim of Diversity Management that companies and societies identify and deal with their own diversity and recognize the different advantages of each competence, character, attitude and cultural background. [3]

There are different ways to increase diversity. A current example is, for instance, a “women’s quota” that makes it possible „that a specified percentage of committees or positions is assigned to women. It is the aim of the “women’s quota to equate women in society, politics and economy.”[5] Another instrument is the provision of a company kindergarten for employees, programs for binding older employees, concepts for balance and free time.

Diversity in Germany

A study of the consulting company “Roland Berger” reveals that almost 95 % of the big companies in Germany encourage diversity. But ironically enough, diversity is rather unilaterally implemented in companies. According to the study up to 80 % of the companies have limited themselves completely to advancing women with management trainings and mentoring programs. Older people and international employees are often forgotten.

Moreover, the consulting company points out that large German companies address the benefit of working together with international employees when they are asked particularly about diversity. But here too, reality is different. In line with the findings of the study, only every fifth company tries to establish long-term relationships with people with a migration background. But according to the consultants it might be worth to invest into the diversity of employees already in the medium term. They forecast that German economy could save up to EUR 21 billion, when certain workers will be systematically supported. Such a specific support shall generate a closer relationship between companies and their employees, so that employees are not likely to change the company.[6]

Diversity at TEAMWILLE

TEAMWILLE also puts a great emphasis on diversity. However, this is not reflected in a comprehensive presentation of employees with different ethnic backgrounds on the website – the way other companies do it. When you come to TEAMWILLE you can clearly feel diversity. You will meet employees from a variety of fields and with different job experiences. This is how a unique company culture is developed which is a benefit for both, the company and the customers.

TEAMWILLE counts on team work, employees are complementary. In project teams, economists work together with teachers, engineers together with lawyers. Of course, such a diversity could also be the reason why collaboration within a team might become difficult – but quite the contrary! Sometimes there is trouble brewing under the surface within a diverse team; ok, that’s true. But this is also a benefit, because it is a sign that some changes are ongoing, things are permanently in progress and not stuck. Everybody puts a focus on different things, everybody has her or his own ideas how to find and realize solutions. It is only possible to find mutual solutions in a team when employees bring along both a high acceptance and a high willingness to compromise. By mixing different experiences and qualifications, completely different, innovative and sometimes even inconvenient, but quite intelligent solutions occur, which probably would not be developed within homogenous teams. The mixture of experienced consultants and junior consultants, international and national colleagues is a factor that should not be underestimated and could be the reason for even more diversity in companies. Thus, an even greater diversity and a broad spectrum within the topics arises, which gives the impression that nothing is impossible.

With all its diversity, TEAMWILLE is, for sure, not better than all the other consulting companies. Interestingly enough, this is even not the claim. TEAMWILLE is different! Reasons for that lie in all the people who work for TEAMWILLE and in the philosophy that being different is the access for exciting ideas and helpful solutions – which often make the difference.

…to be honest, I like being different.

 

[1] Friedrich Voig (2007): Diversity-Management als Leitbild von Personalpolitik; Deutscher Universitäts Verlag; Wiesbaden.

[2] Internationale Gesellschaft für Diversity Management e.V.; http://www.idm-diversity.org/.

[3] Wirtschaftslexikon Gabler; http://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/Definition/diversity-management.html.

[4] Vgl. Internationale Gesellschaft für Diversity Management e.V.; http://www.idm-diversity.org/.

[5] Statista; http://de.statista.com/themen/873/frauenquote/.

[6] Roland Berger; http://www.rolandberger.de/media/pdf/Roland_Berger_Diversity_and_Inclusion_D_20120716.pdf.

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