Interview: ‘Diversity is what we are all about’

Embracing diversity, not marginalising or discriminating against anyone – this should go without saying in any job. However, this is not always the case. In an interview, Managing Director and GIZ Labour Relations Director Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel explains why diversity is an integral part of our success.

Mr Schäfer-Gümbel, what role does diversity play at GIZ?

Definitely an extremely important one. We are a diverse company: the many different perspectives, experiences, ways of thinking and living are an asset – this is what makes us and our work in more than 120 countries worldwide successful. I would even go so far as to say that diversity is what makes GIZ. However, this doesn’t mean that we always measure up when it comes to this diversity, in all its dimensions. We are no better or worse than other companies in this respect. For us, this means that we need to remain vigilant, and that we will always have work to do.

Diversity has ethical, human rights, social and business components. Our mission statement on diversity focuses on participation, equal opportunities and non-discrimination – and on the value that diversity brings to our corporate success. Diversity is an asset. And diverse perspectives make us successful.


How are you fostering diversity specifically?

We are creating spaces. We run a variety of events, including the annual Diversity Day in May. In early 2021, we also created a full-time Diversity Manager role.

Diversity is enshrined in a mission statement – GIZ signed the German Diversity Charter, and the Management Board recently adopted a Diversity Code. This states that diversity is an essential component of our corporate culture and that we are committed to creating a climate of trust, respect and acceptance.

We have a range of committed interest groups, including a Disabled Persons’ Representative, Equal Opportunities Commissioners and a Youth and Trainee Delegation. Staff initiatives are in place to promote other dimensions of diversity, such as the Cultural Diversity Initiative and the Rainbow Network. All these groups work together.

We want to harness our diversity of ideas, knowledge and perspectives, treat each other with respect, work to ensure equal opportunities and cooperate across hierarchical levels. This requires a culture of open dialogue – and I’m glad to say that we have this

What was your personal highlight in 2021 with regard to diversity? What stands out in your mind?

We held our second Diversity Week in the autumn. There were more than 50 online events in five languages, with some attracting over 500 participants. In total, around 100 staff members were involved in organising the events. I was really impressed by their commitment and passion – and this makes it clear to me that we are on a really good path.

And, as I mentioned previously, the Management Board adopted a mission statement on diversity a few weeks ago. This demonstrates how important the issue is to us and makes our commitment visible. The mission statement contains a Code that describes GIZ’s stance on diversity, defines our intentions when working together and sets out the expectations on all of us.

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