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"Our blue is multicoloured"

Gernot Sendowski, Director Global Diversity & Inclusion at Deutsche Bank AG and deputy chairperson of the Charta of Diversity, on diversity as a key to business success, the German Diversity Day, the fathers' network Väter@ DB and LGBTIQ equality.

tw: Why do white men in darkblue business suits come to my mind when I think of Deutsche Bank?
Gernot Sendowski:
When it comes to Deutsche Bank staff, I think of colleagues of 149 nationalities in 60 countries, spanning four generations. I think of bankers, economists, legal experts and also engineers and geologists. I think of hetero, homo, bi, inter and transsexual individuals. In a nutshell: our blue is multicoloured.

Your are Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Deutsche Bank AG. What exactly are your responsibilities?
We're a small global team of experts. Our responsibilities and tasks are as mulitfaceted as our bank. Our work encompasses the development of a strategy on diversity and inclusion in alignment with the group's senior management, giving advice to the divisions for implementation, consulting in conceptual design of training and development measures, internal and external reporting on our progress, implementation of regulatory requirements, cooperation with and support of our staff networks as well as consultation in individual cases. And our work also covers representing the bank, for example in Germany at the Charta of Diversity and the Prout At Work Foundation.

The Charta of Diversity promotes diversity in the world of work. Your bank was not only among the first signatories in 2006, you are also an honorary member on the Charta's board of directors. Why?
Deutsche Bank is indeed one of the founding members of the Charta of Diversity. I think it's important that an appreciative approach to diversity in the world of work is considered a key to business success and social integration. Diversity is not a singular issue you can decide to deal with or not. Diversity is part of reality, and we have the opportunity and responsibility not only to recognise its worth but also its ability to add value. And we as large-scale employer and active member of the community also have the responsibility to contribute positively to diversity and to participate in its development.

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Gernot Sendowski speaks at a scholarship- program event staged by Deutschlandstiftung Integration.


... is Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Deutsche Bank AG. Europe's leading corporate and investment bank has approximately 97,500 employees in 60 countries, representing 149 nations. www.deutsche-bank.de

Why should corporations or other organizations join the Charta of Diversity?
By signing the Charta, businesses and institutions are demonstrating their resolve to recognise the positive impact diversity has. This is not lost on future talents, our employees and business associates: People are increasingly asking themselves why they ought to decide for one or the other employer. A clear distinguishing factor is how a company values its employees‘ identities and personalities. Furthermore, Charta signatories form a network to exchange experiences and to drive issues focused on diversity and inclusion in the world of work.

Are you, Deutsche Bank Management Board members or colleagues from the Charta of Diversity available to speak at conferences on diversity?
Of course we are available to share our experience and insights, time permitting. I recently spoke at the "iCON Global Inclusion Seminar" on the progress and status of embedding diversity and integration at Deutsche Bank and discussed my views on aspects of diversity management in the future. And a short while ago, I gave a brief welcome speech when the workgroup of homosexual members of the German Armed Forces signed the Charta of Diversity.

The study Diversity in Germany , conducted on the occasion of the Charta's tenth birthday in 2016, showed that two out of three corporations in Germany are not prepared for the foreseeable changes caused by a diversified working world. What changes are we actually facing?
Answering this question would actually merit a separate interview. In brief: I think particular challenges lie in the ”Three D”: digitalization, demographic changes, and diversity. Multigenerational and multicultural cooperations in an environment with ever-shorter development cycles and a shift towards a knowledge-based society. Hierarchies and departments, for example, are gradually transforming into teams and networks, cooperating temporarily to accomplish a particular assignment. Digitalization is an excellent way to facilitate flexible working, enabling parents or carers to work more independently from location. However, there is of course a higher risk of work-life blending. There's a much greater range of work models, and that calls for new leadership attitudes.

In this context, how is the Charta of Diversity supporting organizations?
There are numerous ways: for example by consistently updating publications on its website, with workshops such as the currently ongoing interactive half-day CHALLENGE. Labs for younger staff, and with the annual Diversity Conference in cooperation with the Tagesspiegel newspaper. Another good example is the joint "Kaleidoscope" study conducted in cooperation with the Technical University in Munich to seek creative and unique concepts on reconciling family life and career. And then there's the public signatory database and many good practice examples that encourage networking and learning.

You say: "Deutsche Bank's diversity management is based upon the firm conviction that diversified teams are more successful." On what results, data or experiences do you base that belief?

It depends on the business area. In our international Risk Center, for example, cultural diversity is an invaluable tool to better assess credit risk or portfolios. Staff members there not only understand what was communicated from a foreign country or region, but they can also better interpret that information in the context of the respective cultural environment. Or take our Digital Factory, where experienced bankers and young IT talents cooperate to jointly engineer successful online banking programs. What is true for both examples is that only leadership and team conduct appreciative of diversity will ultimately bear success.

The new CSR reporting obligation in the European Union covers concepts on diversity. Will that lead to increased awareness?
In any case it will increase transparency and comparability among the companies affected by the regulation. Deutsche Bank Research, for example, identified information on diversity and its effects upon the capital markets as one of 13 potential turning points in 2018.

The Charta of Diversity stages the Diversity Day in Germany to promote awareness and understanding of diversity. Deutsche Bank has been participating since 2013. Why?
All participating companies consider this day to be an excellent opportunity to stage a variety of activities to raise and deepen our public awareness for our mutual objective. Together, we are underlining our commitment to Germany as a business location. And it's another good opportunity to show our appreciation for the important input provided by staff networks in businesses and to give them an additional platform.

You organized 18 activities for the last Diversity Day. Which one of these was closest to your heart, and what are your plans for the 6th Geman Diversity Day on June 5?
Actually, the most important thing to me was the diversity of all these activities. The focus was on the entire breadth of dimensions and their interaction. "Together. Diverse. Strong." was and still is our motto. And we were also able to establish genuine links to our many customers. If I were asked to choose a particular activity, I'd opt for the official foundation of our staff network for fathers ”Väter@DB”; a great dynamic initiative. For this year's program, we are still in the creative phase. There will again be a wide range of activities focusing on diversity as a topic and on getting involved.

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CHALLENGE.Labs: For young professionals who are committed to diversity.

Deutsche Bank is also engaged in public events such as the Christopher Street Day (CSD) and BerlinPride – DB even has its own parade float. Why is it important to show your colours at these events?
Based on the active participation shown by our staff, their family members and also by our customers, we all show that LGBTIQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Queer) equality for us is not just an empty phrase, but an integral element of our activities; there are still too many prejudices and reservations, there is still too much stigmatization and even violence against LGBTIQ individuals. This is absolutely incompatible with our values and beliefs, and that's why we proudly display our colours – in Germany and all over the world.

As an expert on diversity: how important is diversity at conferences?
I believe that what is true for better results in the working world also applies to conferences. Different perspectives, holistic points of view, diverging knowledge and experiences and differing opinions, all invigorate conferences. At the most recent Diversity Conference staged by the Charta of Diversity and the Tagesspiegel, we invited retired bishop Wolfgang Huber and the mathematician and philosopher Gunter Dueck as keynote speakers. Both held up a mirror to us, each one in his own way, and both contributed to a controversial yet constructive discussion. There is nothing more boring than a long list of speakers or panelists who are totally in accord with themselves and the audience.

That brings us to "white male panel": does Deutsche Bank aim for diversity at its events?
What I said about diversity at conferences applies here, too. Of course we always have an eye on assuring diversified attendance at our own events. We consider potential contributions to the positive outcome of any event and aim for varied expertise, experience and perspectives.  KERSTIN WÜNSCH
„Wir haben ein Augenmerk auf vielfältige Beteiligte an unseren Veranstaltungen.“
Gernot Sendowski