Corporate Responsibility

Diversity as an integral part of corporate culture

As with almost all large corporations, the proportion of men in top positions is still high at Heraeus. Yet it has often been shown that diverse teams are more successful. Diversity has therefore long since become an important factor for the sustainability of a company. At the Global Business Unit Heraeus Precious Metals, diversity was the main topic of the annual management meeting in 2019, and it was decided to incorporate the topic into the strategy. As a result, a whole series of measures was defined to ensure more diversity in terms of gender and origin – especially in the management area.

Numerous surveys prove it: Diversified management teams in terms of gender and cultural background are more successful. For example, according to a 2020 McKinsey study, companies that place their strategic focus on diversity are significantly more profitable than those that do not. And the English-language magazine Forbes also found in 2020 that up to nearly one-fifth (19 percent) more innovations are created when there is a high diversity ratio in the management area. Within Heraeus Precious Metals, there have already been examples of such successful collaboration – and yet the initial situation in 2018 still looked like this: only one woman in the twelve-member management team and not a single top manager from a non-European country. Yet the company operates very internationally, with over 70 percent of its business taking place outside Germany. For this reason, and also to meet the changing demands of applicants and employees, the management decided to actively promote the issue of diversity.

Strategic goals for increasing diversity by 2024

In 2019, Heraeus Precious Metals therefore launched an initiative to initiate real change and establish diversity not just as a project, but as part of the corporate culture and an integral part of the strategy. To this end, the team set itself the two strategic goals of increasing cultural diversity to 50 percent and gender diversity to 35 percent by 2024. 
To this end, the following measures were implemented, among others: In the annual talent programs for future managers, the individual departments were asked to propose as many women as men. With the effect that 50 percent women and 50 percent men participated in 2020. The Global Business Unit also improved the compatibility of family and career. For example, employees in management positions on parental leave were guaranteed the same job on their return – even part-time if desired. The management team at Heraeus Precious Metals now includes employees from the headquarters in the USA, India and China. All measures introduced are regularly reviewed in workshops and continuously expanded with new ones – such as a "role model" communication campaign or trainee programs that increasingly address female talent.
"We were and are convinced that more diverse teams also mean more success for us. The quality of management will increase as a result, as will our long-term profitability. Even if it takes longer, we want to implement real changes. The positive feedback we are receiving from various departments encourages us on this path," says Deniz Serifsoy, Senior Vice President HR & Communications at Heraeus Precious Metals.

- published: October 2021 -