Facebook posts by employees: GIZ takes disciplinary action

At the end of March, Facebook posts by GIZ employees came to light that were criticised as anti-Semitic. The company’s response was prompt.

‘As a federal enterprise, our stance is clear: we do not tolerate anti-Semitism,’ said Tanja Gönner, Chair of the GIZ Management Board. ‘All employees are committed to upholding the values of Germany’s constitution.’ This is stipulated in GIZ’s Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct, which are part of the employment contract.

Due to its special role as a federal enterprise, GIZ has an obligation to maintain political neutrality and refrain from taking a political stance; political statements therefore cannot be made in professional contexts. The Facebook comments posted privately were published in a newspaper article and on a website. Statements posted on social media cannot be considered wholly private if they can be linked to the company.

Meetings were held with the eight employees whose posts had been criticised to clarify each specific case, and the outcome was carefully considered on an individual basis. As a result, there has been a dismissal, a written warning and a reprimand.

‘We have no reason to assume that anti-Semitism is a general problem at GIZ,’ says Gönner. ‘We greatly value our employees’ commitment and efforts worldwide – many of whom work in politically sensitive and fragile contexts.’

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. We support the German Government in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. Through our work, we assist people and societies in shaping their own future and improving living conditions