Diversity without (female) quota

My professional life has always been in more male-dominated industries, and our team also includes some strong women. I find the mix very pleasant, but we focus almost exclusively on performance – who is performing it is not really important: over time, more and more positions are being offered to me, and with a frequency that borders on regularity, people say that they are so happy to have found a woman again / finally. Also when I ask for keynotes or workshops, I often hear that a representative (sorry, representative!) of the female sex was explicitly sought. Strangely enough, they don’t even realize how insulting that is at that moment. I would like to be offered positions based on my performance, not because I am a woman, and I am also reluctant to make speeches just because there are no female first names in the programme. I recently experienced the climax in the context of a grant application: a staff member of the responsible ministry asked whether the colleague had intentionally not used female forms, which is important and common nowadays. The application had been written by two women, and we were both of the opinion that its content was really strong. The idea of artificially lengthening the text by adding “Innen” appendices would not have occurred to us with the best will in the world. I think there is a limit to political correctness; in the USA it has been crossed at some point in recent years, so that every sentence could be interpreted as if it discriminated against or denigrated against some minority. In my opinion, this annoyance has contributed to the hopelessly reactionary election of the current president. When things are going badly, such a development also fires up the victim feeling of right-wing groups, because one is “not allowed to say anything more” It is important to reflect regularly whether one’s own behaviour unintentionally uses norms and automatisms that lead to women or even minorities of any kind being disadvantaged. But it is just as important to me to see the person in front of me, not his or her gender – and certainly not to discriminate in reverse. Let us all once again focus more on what needs to be done and pay attention to results, not their verbal packaging. Then we will be able to get faster.

Knowledge, dialogue and examples against anger and slogans

The riots in Hamburg around the G20 summit shook us as a team – not least because of the descriptions of a colleague who was on site (passing through from an appointment). He first fled from burning Molotov cocktails and then, after hours of waiting in spookily empty station halls, caught the last train out of the city. Our attitude is very clear: there is no justification or tolerance for violence, which is also directed against completely uninvolved people. Of course we also discuss intensively in the team, when scandals such as the current one in the car industry come to light – and we also understand that such events can trigger feelings of powerlessness and anger, both on the industry and politicians, who obviously didn’t want to look so closely for a long time. At the same time we see no reason for conspiracy theories. The global economy is too complex to be controlled by a few individual masterminds with evil intentions! Take the example of the banks: in relation to former interest rates, they now receive only half or a third of the price for the same core product (loans). However, the demands for scrutiny and diligence on the part of regulation have in some cases even increased. Of course, this is why the discount interest rates are particularly high, and of course the bank does not want to grant small loans but concentrates on the big deals – otherwise it will not survive. Why then continue to pay out high bonuses? Well, the gentlemen (and ladies) have manoeuvred themselves into a nice prisoner’s dilemma: whoever cuts first, fears losing thousands of employees. For once, a cartel-like arrangement would be something that the population would support – a rogue who calls it hypocrisy. The companies are stuck in their own system – and are being overtaken right and left by “fin-tech” start-ups that are seizing their chance to use innovation to cut costs and speed up processes. Many customers are already changing, very slowly even the mainstream – this too is a kind of “right to vote” in our democracy. Not every traditional company will survive this. We have it really good in liberal Germany, where there are usually freedoms and rights for which billions of people envy us – starting with the right to demonstrate peacefully. Of course, not everything goes smoothly, but you can work, get involved and do things better yourself. The excesses of Hamburg would be a good reason to discuss how to make people experience even more self-efficacy so that they do not (believe that) need violence as an outlet. Good examples and more dialogue. Blaming belongs in the kindergarten. Photo (c) fcl1971 (free images)