The future of digitisation is female

An interactive booth, sessions regarding the “Fe:male Digital Footprint” and a conference on diversity: this is what the Otto Group offers at this year’s re:publica, taking place from May 2 until May 4 in Berlin. In order to be well prepared for Europe’s biggest conference on digitisation, we spoke to Sandra Widmaier – Senior Vice President of the Corporate HR and in charge of the Otto Group’s representation at the re:publica.


Sandra, the term ‘diversity’ has many meanings. How does the Otto Group define this somewhat complicated term and why is diversity important for a large corporation?

Sandra Widmaier: Diversity can mean a lot, indeed. It is about allowing different perspectives and making hidden potentials more visible within the company. Clearly, we need these different angles in order to meet the complex realities that come along with digitisation in a successful way. We want everyone – no matter which gender, nationality, ethnical background, religion, age or physical handicap – to have equal opportunities.

How does the Otto Group support its female employees? 

SW:  „Boost Your Career“, for example, is a programme supporting the next generation of female managers. However, it starts a lot earlier: women are still underrepresented in STEM areas such as natural science or IT. Companies, educational institutions and parents have to work together to make careers in those fields more appealing to young women. The transformation in the world of work can provide a real opportunity for women as skills like emotional intelligence and teamwork become more and more important.

“Fe:male Digital Footprint”, a re:publica topic supported by the Otto Group, will focus on the aforementioned aspect, discussing, for example, the many ways in which companies can help to shape the female footprint in a digital world. What’s the Otto Group’s take on that?

SW: Let’s take ‘Gender and Coding’ as an example. The digital industry is still dominated by men and therefore runs the risk of innovations being one-sided. As a business, we need to help women get into positions where they can take responsibility and make decisions.

Wrapping up, what’s on the agenda of this year’s diversity conference, taking place within the framework of the re:publica?

SW: We are expecting 130 people – including top management, diversity enthusiasts and the next generation of female leaders at the Otto Group – to attend our conference. The re:publica offers the perfect framework to look beyond our own horizon, to expand our network and extend the dialogue with the digital community.