As a successful global company we cannot afford to disregard the enormous potential offered by our international workforce – regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or gender. At AGCS we strive to recognize our differences and use them proactively to benefit our business. For us diversity goes way beyond gender or ethnicity as it also includes such critical aspects as disability, internationality and generational differences.
Embracing and capitalizing on our diverse workforce demands a behavioral change. To enable this, we have set up regional diversity councils equipped to drive this change locally and have started hosting various awareness events such as the Diversity Week organized for the first time in our Munich office in early October. A Diversity Day was hosted by our colleagues in Paris during the same week and a similar event followed suit in our Singapore office.
During the Diversity Week in Munich various market stalls were set up highlighting our core diversity topics such as the LGBT community for gender, Table Ball for disability and cultural luncheon tables for internationality.
Furthermore, we also hosted numerous internal and external speakers, who addressed various aspects of diversity and what it means in our daily life. Here we offer you a few highlights and hope that you enjoy learning more about the diversity initiatives at AGCS.
Veronica Schilling, Head of Diversity at Allianz SE
In her presentation, Veronica addressed the importance of moving from diversity to inclusion. This transition implies recognizing differences, accepting them and finally leveraging them to benefit our business. At Allianz Group inclusion is understood as a working culture where employees feel a sense of belonging and fresh thinking is encouraged and valued. It´s a culture of inclusive meritocracy that drives key initiatives related for example to disability, LGBT communities, gender or employee well-being.
Female Networking Conference
Sixty-six women from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, including two of AGCS female board members, Sinéad Browne and Nina Klingspor, took part in the first Female Manager Networking Conference hosted at AGCS office in Munich.
Anne Lebel, Global Head of HR, and Dr. Melanie Gillig, Regional Head of HR, welcomed the audience, shared our latest numbers on female participation in leadership positions and explained why further development of female talents is important for the success of our company.
Sinéad Browne provided a very personal account of her successful career at Allianz. She stressed the importance of delivering results, keeping one´s promises, making connections, being open-minded to change while also being brave to speak up for what one believes in. She underlined each employee´s personal responsibility for his or her own career development, which sometimes requires making bold decisions and taking risks.
Building on Sinéad´s advise in regards to professional networking, Julie Harrison, Head of Global Talent Management at Allianz SE, shared many personal examples with the attendees on how she has actively driven her career forward and offered very practical tips on conversation starters and body language to be used in networking sessions.
Verena Bentele, German Paralympic biathlete and official spokesperson for people with disabilities
Being born blind did not stop Verena Bentele from becoming twelve times the world Paralympic ski champion. In January 2014 she assumed the role of the official spokesperson of the German government for the disabled.
When addressing the topic of integrating people with disabilities into the business environment, Verena stressed the importance of establishing an open dialogue with such employees. This would allow companies to continuously improve the existing working conditions for the disabled employees, recognizing the unconscious biases and focusing instead on realistic improvements. Verena also touched upon the importance of recognizing one´s own limitations and asking for help when needed. When reflecting on her own career, she mentioned that exceptional results can be achieved through hard work, but also with the right type of support. This proactive attitude played a key role in her success as an athlete and a politician.
As highlighted by different speakers in various discussions throughout the week, when speaking about diversity we are talking about a journey. At AGCS we have embarked on it and are convinced that this is an important key to our success. Diversity cannot be seen as a project: it is a behavioral change that not only allows us to recognize and embrace differences, but also to establish an inclusive culture where every employee is given an equal chance to succeed.