THE BENEFITS OF BEING DIFFERENT

Diversity is becoming more and more important

More and more companies are realizing that they have a lot of untapped human potential in their staff—the more richly varied,

the better. Under the banner of “Diversity,” they are striving to make better use of human variety, both internally and externally.

The concept of diversity is based on the belief that employees of different ages, different genders, different ethnic backgrounds, abilities, and disabilities, achieve more by working together.

Systematically promoting diversity

They bring different points of view and varied approaches, which can lead to fresh ideas and ways of looking at things, with multiple advantages for the company. The Rheinmetall Group has set itself the task of systematically promoting future diversity—and the company’s new policy doesn’t stop at the factory gates. A recent initiative by Pierburg GmbH of Neuss offers a good example. Together with the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH), a polytechnic in Aachen, the auto parts maker established a project group consisting of female students, who, in tandem with their academic workload, receive a clearly defined project. As outsiders, they bring a different perspective to the workings of the company, while simultaneously gaining insights into its work flows and processes.

Collecting valuable experience for subsequent careers

The joint project results in a win-win situation: the student consultants take part in Sigma Women training at RWTH, gaining valuable experience for their subsequent careers. At the same time, they earn a ’green belt’ qualification, one of the development stages in Six Sigma training. Highly prized in German industry, this qualification relates to the optimization of procedures and business processes. Proud of its heritage but with an eye to the future, Pierburg is pleased to have this extra womanpower, while the students, who are close to completing their master’s degrees, see in this form of cooperation an exciting possibility for honing their own expertise when it comes to optimizing processes in a real-world context. And who knows? Maybe they’re gaining an insight into the inner workings of a possible future employer…

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Ramona Hofmann, Head of Diversity Management at Rheinmetall Automotive

Inquired!

The term “diversity” doesn’t just refer to helping women to get ahead, does it?

That’s very true, but when we see how low the percentage of women in leadership positions is compared to men, then it’s pretty clear where the shoe pinches. This is why we’re systematically working to encourage female junior staff, though of course we’re not limiting ourselves to the gender balance.

How do you go about doing this?

One way of doing this is to intensify our contacts with schools and universities— just like what Pierburg is doing now. This stepped-up exchange gives us a chance to interest young women in a technical career—and hopefully a means of increasing the share of young women in the company with leadership potential.

What are the advantages of a functioning culture of diversity?

Diversity in our everyday work routines also enriches processes inside an organization, because people who come from all sorts of backgrounds bring different strengths to the company. This means that many organizational flows, processes, and development stages can be improved in very easy ways or simply accelerated. In the end, everybody benefits from this.