A talk with… Martin Seiler
“Therefore, we understand diversity as a process that is conditioned by social change and that will very likely hold other facets of diversity in store for us in the future as well.”
At Deutsche Bahn you believe in „Diversity of Minds“ – which dimensions of diversity are meant by that?
Martin Seiler: We have defined seven core dimensions for Deutsche Bahn: generation, social origin, ethnical origin, physical and psychological abilities, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation.
For other facets of diversity and individuality that do not always seem immediately recognizable at first, we have introduced „Diversity of Minds“. Specifically, this means the individual background of our employees in relation to, for example, different life and work experiences, perspectives and skills.
We continuously want to map, integrate and promote this holistic understanding of diversity in our company. Therefore, we understand diversity as a process that is conditioned by social change and that will very likely hold other facets of diversity in store for us in the future as well.
Tolerance and diversity cannot (only) be prescribed from above – how do you combine a top-down with a bottom-up approach regarding diversity issues?
Martin Seiler: In order to live tolerance and diversity as a company, diversity issues can not only be on the agenda of top management alone. Our goal is to involve all employees, to mobilize and motivate them through targeted nudges, measures and events.
Our employee networks, DB Cultures, Frauen bei der Bahn und „railbow“ – the LGBT*IQ-network – call for and promote awareness of the topic of diversity in the company and thus create more openness and respect in dealing with one another. Also, our external allies, such as PROUT AT WORK, support us in continuously developing ourselves.
In order to reach out to even more employees, I launched the first company group wide Diversity Week last year. This year the motto of the Diversity Week is „Mehr Erkennen. Mehr Sehen. Mehr Erreichen.“ and focuses on Unconscious Bias – which means unconscious prejudices and linear thought patterns.
In 2019, Deutsche Bahn stratetigally realigned its Diversity Management – what has changed since then?
Martin Seiler: Last year we anchored diversity with the initiative „Einziganders.“ in the corporate strategy „Starke Schiene“. As a result, diversity is incorporated into the strategic implementation and the overall goals, across the corporation and all departments and is therefore promoted more comprehensively. Diversity has been declared a top priority and every board member has taken on the patronage of one of our diversity dimensions. In addition, in every business area, people who are responsible for diversity were found, which is expanding our participatory network even further.
In terms of the coronavirus pandemic, we had to digitally redesign some of our concepts in a short time. Instead of the planned participation in a total of six Christopher Street Days, we have started our own Pride Ride campaign with our LGBT*IQ network. The wish to create visibility with our community regardless – or precisely because of – the crisis was also supported by our four TopOut100Executives. Rainbow flags were hoisted at 63 train stations, we made a video together and a rainbow-colored locomotive is still carrying our message across the country.
For our employees and network members we have designed rainbow-colored mouth and nose protection, which is also worn proudly by my fellow board members and myself.