Arvato | Gütersloh, 03/08/2021

A strong voice for women at AFS

Subject: Employees
Country: Germany
Category: Project

Shaping the successful future of women and the company together - this is the goal of the new women's network AFS United Women, which was founded at the end of last year. In order for this to succeed, the network wants to advocate for equal conditions in terms of professional development and pay and increase the visibility of women in the company.

The idea for such a network came about as a result of the first diversity workshop and the discussion of unconscious bias. "We saw that women are underrepresented, especially in higher management positions," Silke Kull describes the reason for the initiative. "We are convinced that diverse teams at all levels lead to better decisions in the company. We therefore asked ourselves how to address the issue structurally and thus change it in the long term." A central factor will be to give women a voice and, as a network, to develop recommendations for action for more gender diversity.

Above all, greater awareness of the causes of unequal treatment and an open and differentiated approach to the topic are crucial. "Concerned persons have a clear view of existing hurdles or obstacles and can address them more accurately," CEO Jan Altersten also emphasises. He welcomes the establishment of the network as an important step on the way to more equal opportunities in the company. At the same time, he hopes that such an initiative will one day become obsolete: "For us, a person's qualifications should always be in the foreground, not their gender. We want to unite the best talents in our company and offer them the best development opportunities. In order to achieve a state where gender has no influence on career opportunities and remuneration, the objectives of the Women's Network are spot on," he states.

Creating structures for more diversity

For Silke Kull, the key lies in eliminating structural inequalities. "We want to start by working to create more transparency regarding career opportunities and salary." This is a start to pave the way for future generations to get into decision-making positions," she explains. In order to increase the share of women in previously underrepresented positions in the company in the long term, it is important to create flexible career models and support various life models for women and men. The AFS United Women Network has already formulated some concrete courses of action, including a continuous look at the salary structure, promotion policy and talent development, as well as the creation of an Equality Award, with which particularly diverse teams can be honoured. "We also want to link up internationally in order to develop uniform solutions for AFS," Silke Kull makes clear.