Diversity as a performance driver: Does it make us more successful?

Diversity as a performance driver: Does it make us more successful?
Diversity as a performance driver: Does it make us more successful?

How do diversity, equal opportunities, inclusion, and a sense of belonging currently factor into the corporate environment? Or more specifically, in the day-to-day work of employees?

Diversity is not an easy topic at the moment. War, the energy and climate crisis and their economic and social impact are rightly dominating the news and public perception. For companies, the question of focus, revenue protection and performance arise especially in such challenging times.
In particular, managers and those responsible for diversity and inclusion (D&I) in companies have an important role to play in not only strengthening these issues during the crisis, but also actively driving them forward.

Around 250 D&I experts, members of the internal diversity networks, managing directors and other top executives from the Otto Group's DACH companies as well as external diversity experts and topic drivers came together in mid-November 2023 as part of a virtual diversity exchange to develop ideas and take action. 

The aim of the event was to move away from simply looking at the status quo and towards developing concrete solutions. The focus lay on examining the topics in close cooperation between business, politics, science and research. Learning from and with each other, exchange and networking, impulses for the daily business and a sharpened awareness of the topics, especially in top management, were welcome side effects.

Three takeaways

1. Communication is key: Open communication is essential. Particularly in the area of D&I, there are some uncertainties because the topics are developing so quickly and dynamically. Asking questions is human and can eliminate misunderstandings.

2. Diversity is (also) a matter for the management: this applies not only when it comes to support. Diversity is particularly important in management positions. Not just in terms of gender distribution or origin, but also in terms of age, for example. Older colleagues should be actively considered for management positions and given sufficient training in demographic change.

3. Leadership also works in pairs: The keyword here is co-leadership and job sharing. Co-leadership enables two people to take on management tasks and fill positions with maximum competence. It is therefore especially useful to consider different age groups so that different perspectives can be taken into account when making decisions. Co-leadership and job sharing have many different faces. For example, it can and does not always have to be a management context and/or a part-time model. If you consider this, you can turn job sharing and co-leadership from a means of promoting women into a new work model.

Diversity is a key performance factor and driver of innovation. We must and want to reflect the diversity of our customers in order to remain successful in the future. 

Petra Scharner-Wolff, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Member of the Executive Board, Finance, Controlling, Human Resources

The Otto Group has been actively dedicated to diversity and equal opportunities for many years and is supported not only by D&I management in individual Group companies and the corporate headquarters, but also by the commitment of its employees. A strong network of initiatives and communities is pledged to working on the individual diversity dimensions and networks via the cross-company "Otto Group Diversity Community".

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging remain key core topics for the Otto Group, especially in times of focus and global crisis. It is not just about ensuring that all colleagues in the Group feel treated fairly, seen and that they have a sense of belonging. In addition to these - only supposedly soft - aspects, it is also always about sustainability and performance. After all, these factors not only have a significant influence on how we work together on a day-to-day basis and on the corporate culture: they also have a major impact on many other facets of the company's success - from employer branding and customer contact and perception to the handling of complex projects and challenges. "And we want to inspire diverse, international talent to work in the Otto Group, even in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Because we need exactly these diverse perspectives in our teams in order to achieve the best results," says Petra Scharner-Wolff. Targeted, economic action requires a level of performance and resilience that is only made possible by these four factors, for example by fully unlocking potential, promoting further development and being genuinely open to new or different approaches and perspectives.

If you would like to hear more perspectives from colleagues, you can find them in our podcast "Handeln." Host Marina Lenz is in conversation with Celina Simon-Rettberg, Division Manager HR Strategy, Tech & Transformation at the Otto Group, and Kirstin Hahne, Manager Diversity, Equity & Belonging at Bonprix, on the topic of "Diversity as a performance factor" (German language).

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