Berlin, 11/14/2023

‘We Stand By Our Values‘

Panel discussion "Allyship 2.0" with Jo Labecka, Alexander Scheld, Ingo Betram, Yolanda Rother and Bettina Lutz (f. l.)

Subject: Society, Employees
Country: Germany
Category: Project

Bertelsmann was the host of this year's "Prout at Work" conference. Representatives from numerous companies met at Unter den Linden 1 in Berlin to discuss current issues and challenges relating to LGBT*IQ and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Guests at the event included Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe and Bertelsmann Chief HR Officer Immanuel Hermreck.

HR managers, diversity experts, and founding members and coordinators of employee networks at companies based in Germany recently met for this year's "Prout at Work” conference under the heading "LGBT*IQ Diversity: Tackling the future.” As a "Prout Employer” [Prout = portmanteau for proud/out], Bertelsmann has been a supporter of the foundation since 2017. The two-day hybrid event addressed current issues and challenges relating to LGBT*IQ and diversity, equity & inclusion in presentations, panel discussions and interactive breakout sessions, showcased case studies and offered space for exchange and networking. Tessa Ganserer, member of the German Bundestag for the Greens since 2021, gave the keynote speech. The first day was moderated by Michael Lauk, Chairman of the Bertelsmann employee network “be.queer." Guests at the event included Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe and Bertelsmann Chief HR Officer Immanuel Hermreck.

“In 'be.queer', we have an established and cross-divisional employee network at Bertelsmann that reliably supports our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion management and also serves as a valuable source of inspiration for the Executive Board," said Thomas Rabe in his joint welcome address with Albert Kehrer, Chairman of the Prout At Work Foundation. "The fact that Bertelsmann is hosting the 'Prout At Work' conference this year is partly thanks to the 'be.queer' initiative. Our shared goal is to ensure that the workplace is a safe space characterized by tolerance and respect, and not just for all queer employees. We are currently noticing, with concern, an increase in countervailing trends in many places. We are even seeing laws being written that are directed against the queer community. We promise: Bertelsmann stands by its values. And we stand up for them."

Encouraging diversity in the company

In his presentation, Immanuel Hermreck reported on his department’s collaboration with the "be.queer" employee network and the importance of DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) at Bertelsmann. Kathinka Best, Project Manager at Bertelsmann Management Consulting, traced the history of the network at Bertelsmann - from the desire to encourage diversity within the company to the idea of creating an LGBTIQ+ network, and its establishment in 2017. The LGBT*IQ Awards were presented during the first day of the conference. Since 2018, Prout At Work has presented these awards in various categories to recognize exceptionally active and influential corporate networks. In this way, the foundation aims to set an example of appreciation and respect for people who give a voice, a face, and weight to LGBT*IQ issues in the workplace. In 2019, the Bertelsmann employee network "be.queer" received the "Big Impact Initiative Award"  from the Prout at Work Foundation. At the time, the award was given for two videos that had been produced as part of a cross-divisional film project and were dedicated to the topic of "Coming Out at Work” to mark "Coming Out Day" on October 11.

The Prout At Work Foundation’s mission is to make LGBT*IQ issues “present, visible, and tangible" in the workplace so that talents and energies can be fully utilized. The foundation is convinced that people and companies alike will benefit from this openness.