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Diversity in the workplace is not just an issue for HR departments but is a relevant competitive factor for most corporate functions, which is why managers increasingly see staff diversity as a strategic advantage. At the Bertelsmann Diversity Conference 2016, five executives from various Bertelsmann divisions presented case studies that showed how diversity constitutes a concrete business case for their business. In the third part of our series Anne Meyer-Minnemann, Editor-in-Chief of the people and lifestyle magazine "Gala," showed how diversity in the editorial team contributed to the magazine’s commercial success. In the fourth and final part of the series, Steven Moran, Bertelsmann Chief Learning Officer and Head of Bertelsmann University , explains why diversity and learning are inseparably linked to Bertelsmann’s success.
To what extent is diversity relevant to the subject of learning?
Steven Moran: Beyond my personal belief that learning is very important, in these rapidly changing times learning is also an important success factor – one might even say that learning is becoming increasingly essential for survival. It’s about how agile and dynamic we are in handling the constant changes in the outside world, and how we can remain innovative and competitive. And we can only solve these challenges by starting at the level of the individual and giving our colleagues opportunities and various incentives for learning. At Bertelsmann University we take a very differentiated approach to reach as many employees as possible, as our workforce is very varied regarding their learning objectives, learning needs and learning levels. This is pure diversity!
How is this reflected in your daily work?
Steven Moran: We offer learning experiences with a maximum degree of individualization. The key lies mainly in digital learning solutions. Our offer consists of our own online training, the more than 10,000 courses at Lynda.com, and complementary classroom offerings. This lets us wonderfully reflect our staff diversity in our learning conditions, while also saving training and travel costs for the divisions. Of course, we also integrate the theme of diversity in Bertelsmann University’s programs. We are currently working with the divisional learning officers to design a Leadership Learning Framework. It defines minimum standards for leadership programs at Bertelsmann. Diversity and diversity management are important topics, because we must empower our managers to make better use of potential related to employee diversity.
What is your business case?
Steven Moran: As I’ve just said, we must always keep diversity in general, and staff diversity in particular, in mind when designing our framework conditions and our content. Otherwise, we cannot be successful. So when I took over as Head of Bertelsmann University, I asked myself: How do we get there? And I have a simple answer to this question: A lot of perspectives are represented in my own team. For example, we have men and women, who work full-time and part-time, including a part-time team leader. All of them have very different ways of life. This already helps, because ultimately our job is about taking our Group’s different groups of customers into consideration as best as possible our approaches. So at Bertelsmann University, we live diversity, every single day. I just think this is really important – and I do get a lot in return! My team is excellent, super dedicated, and highly motivated. This is a win-win story.
What happens next on the path of change?
Steven Moran: It’s important to me to spread our team spirit and make diversity tangible through our different University formats. To give just one example: Anyone who has ever participated in one of our bootcamp formats knows exactly what I mean: the more diverse the group, the more impressive the results. The added value of creativity and innovation is clearly shown in the results or our two or three days of work. What I’d like more of here is for us to integrate this spirit, this method of idea generation, into our daily routine as well. Here, we, the overall organization, must stay on the ball constantly and keep learning. Become more digital, more innovative, with even broader horizons. Which brings us back to my favorite topic: learning!
Help us learn from you – What are your tips for more diversity?
Steven Moran: Instead of giving tips, I’d like to formulate a few points as an appeal. First, we have unbelievably great colleagues in this company with tremendous potential. Learning must play an important role for all employees if we are to benefit from this potential. The second appeal is aimed at all senior executives: With this in mind, think about the various strengths of your colleagues when you talk to them about their continuing education activities at Bertelsmann University. Diversity is king! Third: We all need to better utilize the diversity of our employees. Each and every one of us should see themselves as an example and sponsor of a new "mutual learning culture."
The Bertelsmann Diversity Conference 2016 was organized by the Corporate Responsibility & Diversity Management department, which is part of Corporate HR. If you have questions or comments about the conference or Bertelsmann’s diversity strategy, please let us know: Send email .