“We do business in so many countries, so by definition, we have diversity in our company,” said chief diversity officer Denice Kronau. “What we have to be able to do is consciously address the inclusion piece.”
To do this, she emphasises the importance of “localising” any diversity programme. For example, she notes that Siemens’ US offices are very focused on LGBT and veteran issues, whereas South Africa’s concentrate on Black Economic Empowerment as a response to the lingering effects of apartheid.
She has also implemented several measures aimed at focusing employees on Siemens’ diversity and inclusion goals.
The first is a diversity charter, which workers can “sign” by clicking on an online statement which binds them to principles of diversity and equal opportunity. So far, 15,000 employees have committed themselves to this charter.
Kronau also runs a “Diversity at Siemens” Facebook page, where she interacts with the public and encourages visitors to post inspiring stories on special occasions such as International Women’s Day.
She summarises Siemens’ diversity efforts with the saying “Five different fingers, one strong hand”, meaning a combination of diverse elements (index finger, thumb etc) creates a more effective whole.
“Also, extend your hand: it’s about someone opening the door for you and pulling you into the room, not you trying to push your way in,” she said. “It’s been such a powerful metaphor for us as to why everyone counts.”
This article was adapted from Five different fingers, one strong hand, published in issue 12.01 of HRD Magazine.
With more than 360,000 employees spanning the globe, Siemens faces an enormous business imperative to ensure nobody feels excluded.