Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.


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© Dr. Ernesto Marinelli, SAP SE

Dr. Ernesto Marinelli
Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources for Global Customer Success at SAP
Ranked 10th on the TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVES list 2019

Ernesto has over 15 years of human resources experience He is currently the global head of HR for SAP’s Customer Success organization. Passionate about transformation and the impact of leadership on people, Ernesto is a seasoned, goal oriented global HR Senior Executive with broad experience in supporting the Sales and Services organization as well as Development Groups. Accustomed to work in an international environment, Ernesto is strong in transformational work and possesses in depth expertise in all relevant HR processes with a strong ability in creating long term partnerships He speaks Italian and German, is fluent in English and has good knowledge of French and Spanish. He joined SAP in 2005 as a recruiter and had several roles within the HRBP Organization. Ernesto earned a Master Degree in General Linguistics and a PHD in German Linguistics at the University of WĂŒrzburg in Germany.

Regularily, our board member Albert Kehrer invites an inspiring role model of the LGBT*IQ community or an LGBT*IQ Ally for a chat. You can look forward to an interesting exchange about role models and visibility in the LGBT*IQ community.


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© Lichtbildatelier Eva Speith, Darmstadt

Philip Heßen
Head of HR Strategy & Transformation bei Merck
Ranked 6th on the TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVES list 2020

Philip Heßen joined Merck KGaA, a leading science and technology company based in Germany, in 2014. Initially Philip held the position of Head of Global Rewards, followed by his role as Head of HR Germany and is currently responsible for the Global People and HR Strategy, acting as Head of HR Strategy & Transformation.  

Philips professional career started with Siemens, where he was responsible for the initiation of a share-based incentive and establishing an employee-share-culture. In 2011, he transitioned to the high-tech company OSRAM as Global Rewards and Executive HR Manager and, among other things, supported the company’s flotation (IPO) and Divesture from the parent company Siemens.



Hello Jean-Luc. Thank you for your time and for giving us the opportunity to do this interview. PROUT AT WORK is publishing the new PROUT PERFORMER lists for the first time this year. How does it come about?


Jean-Luc Vey: First of all, I would like to thank everyone involved in GERMANY’S TOP 100 OUT EXECUTVES for making the list as successful as it has been over the last three years. Those are mainly the role models who made it onto one of the lists, but also every single nominee. I would also like to thank those who nominated their colleagues and people they know. Above all, I would like to especially thank the jury and our cooperation partners.

They have all contributed a great deal to the visibility of the LGBT*IQ community in Germany. The lists have shown that it is possible to be open about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity in everyday working life without experiencing negative career consequences. With their commitment to equal rights and equal opportunities for LGBT*IQ people at work, those who made it onto the list serve as role models for the entire LGBT*IQ community and beyond.

PROUT AT WORK terminated the collaboration with our partner at the end of the year. However, the visibility of LGBT*IQ at work is still very close to our hearts. Therefore, we have decided to continue the lists with a new name, to further develop them and to publish them on our own in 2021. Being out in the workplace should be the rule and not the exception. We will continue to work for this in the future with our various projects.

Why are these lists so important?


Jean-Luc Vey: As already mentioned, this is mainly about visibility. Studies continue to show that many LGBT*IQ students go back into the closet once they start their professional lives, out of fear that coming out will have a negative impact on their careers. Lists like PROUT PERFORMER show that it is possible to be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity and be successful in your career at the same time. This helps others to have the confidence to come out as well. And this in turn has been proven to have positive effects on mental health and productivity at work.

What is the difference between the new PROUT PERFORMER-lists and the former TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVE lists?


Jean-Luc Vey: In order to make the PROUT PERFORMER-lists even more attractive, we first carried out a survey among old candidates to find out where they felt there was still room for improvement. We took this feedback to heart in the following redesign and incorporated it into the structure of the new lists. Therefore, we now have more distinct categories in the PROUT PERFORMERS-lists and for example have created a separate list for SMEs. In addition, Executive Allies are now also being recognised on a special list. Another new aspect is that we only rank the top places on the list, as we do not want to create competition between the individual candidates.

But why rank the top places anyway?


Jean-Luc Vey: This is because there are still some people who have done particularly outstanding work for LGBT*IQ equality at the workplace over the past year – with important initiatives, new projects or other activities. We would like to give them special attention by highlighting them at the top of the list.

What part does the PROUT PERFORMER jury play in this?


Jean-Luc Vey: We spoke with the jury ahead of redesigning the lists, too. We are very proud to have won such top-class people for the project again. But we are also aware that due to their important roles in their companies, they often do not have the time to evaluate each candidate individually – this was also expressed in their direct feedback.

Therefore, the first evaluation will be carried out by the PROUT AT WORK-Foundation, which will use the information and criteria submitted to determine who will earn a spot on the list and who, because of their exceptional achievements, will have a chance to reach one of the highest-ranking positions. These people are then asked to introduce themselves to the jury through a short video clip, and the jury then determines the top positions. This way we were able to secure the prominent jury members and still ensure an attractive evaluation process for the nominees.

How can people nominate their role models for the PROUT PERFORMER-lists?


Jean-Luc Vey: Nominations are now accepted through our website. It can be found at We are looking forward to all nominations and to creating more visibility for LGBT*IQ at the workplace together with our community.

Thank you for this interview, Jean-Luc!
PROUT EMPLOYER Campana & Schott

“Openness and tolerance are here to stay.”

Dr. Christophe Campana is the founder and managing director of Campana & Schott. He has over 25 years of experience in (top) management consulting and is a member of various expert and advisory boards. His main areas of focus include “strategic project and portfolio management” as well as “new forms of collaboration” with a special focus on social collaboration. Dr. Christophe Campana is the author of over 50 publications on the subject of project and portfolio management.

In simple words, Campana & Schott is providing advice to their customers on strategies to keep their finger on the pulse. What role does diversity play here?


Dr. Christophe Campana: Events such as climate change, radicalization, populism, etc. have led to the point that more and more people are concerned with meanings and values. Most people have recognized that “healthy” progress and prosperity cannot be done without moral values and sustainability. Diversity is one of these values and therefore an essential part of this overarching development. Excluding people due to their sexual orientation promotes hatred and prevents a sustainable better future for everyone. There is still a lot to be done here.

Campana & Schott received three awards as a “Great Place to Work”. The list of your commitments towards the diversity of your employees is long and you are building on long-term cooperation instead of “hire and fire”. Has the PROUT EMPLOYER cooperation been the last piece of the puzzle for an open and inclusive work environment?


Dr. Christophe Campana: There will probably never be that one last piece of the puzzle. For us, the cooperation with PROUT EMPLOYER is an important part of our commitment, which we are constantly developing further. I keep learning new things, e.g. only recently the Federal President Steinmeier made a very clear point in the context of the anti-racism riots where he said: “It is not enough to not be a racist. We have to be anti-racists.” This view also applies to me with regard to diversity and our corporate culture. I am convinced that in the future there will always be topics that managers should deal with in the interests of their company: openness and tolerance are here to stay.

“I understood that as an entrepreneur you have to take a visible and public position on this in order to reach out to the community and signal: Live your sexuality as you want: openly or not – both are fine.”

What advice would you give to companies that are just starting their commitment to LGBT*IQ diversity?


Dr. Christophe Campana: At Campana & Schott there have always been employees who have lived out their homosexuality openly. Therefore, homophobia had no place in our company. For a long time, I believed that this was enough. Only later, I understood that as an entrepreneur you have to take a visible and public position on this in order to reach out to the community and signal: Live your sexuality as you want: openly or not – both are fine. But if you want to live it openly, you will not suffer any disadvantage in our company. It’s just a small step, but it does a lot – and only good.

From our experience we know that LGBT*IQ diversity has the greatest impact in a company when executives, diversity management and the company’s corporate networks regularly come together. Is that also your recipe for success?


Dr. Christophe Campana: Yes, I myself regularly meet with our LGBTQ+ network and have learned a lot from these meetings, e.g. the so-called “Monday lie”, when colleagues chat with each other during the coffee break about the last weekend and some prefer to describe their life partner as “a friend”.

I could immediately emphasize the stress associated with this white lie when my employees told me that they had felt like this for very long periods of time, sometimes even years. That is why the close exchange is so crucial: You start to better understand the problems of the community and can actually start changing things more targeted.

The last question: There are turbulent times coming for employees. Considering your commitment to diversity, how would you react to the statement that starting from now, there are more important topics than LGBT*IQ diversity?


Dr. Christophe Campana: There is a difference between the urgency and the importance. The unexpected severity with which the corona pandemic has affected all areas of life resulted in existential challenges for many companies which we will have to deal with. Just because you douse a fire in an apartment doesn’t mean that your general life in the apartment becomes unimportant. This crisis overshadows many issues, which, however, do not become irrelevant – on the contrary: I am convinced that companies with an open and appreciative culture will get through the crisis better. Diversity is an essential part of corporate identity and contributes to the performance and resilience of an organization.

Dear Dr. Campana, thank you for talking to us!

“We support you! Now and always! That’s what PROUT EMPLOYER says, and that’s why it’s important to us at Google.”

As Director of Client Solutions, Dr. Jannika Bock is responsible for the sale of Google’s advertising products to major customers in Central Europe. She is the Exec Sponsor of GayglerDE, the LGBTQ+ Community at Google Germany GmbH. Before Jannika switched to Google in 2008, she worked, amongst others, for Axel Springer AG. She did her PhD in American literary and cultural studies, i.a. at Harvard University, and is a member of the digital advisory board of TAKKT AG.

“We want to be a company that promotes diversity and lives integrity and inclusion.”

As Vice President of Central Europe, Philipp Justus heads Google’s business in 36 countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the CEE countries. Before joining Google in 2013, Philipp was CEO of Zanox, the Berlin performance marketing network, and held various management positions at eBay and PayPal, including VP of Europe, SVP of Auctions and SVP of Global Markets. Philipp studied business administration at WHU in Koblenz and received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

As a sponsor and member of the foundation’s advisory board, Google has been associated with PROUT AT WORK since the beginning. Why did you decide to become a PROUT EMPLOYER?


Jannika Bock: Currently, it is important to demonstrate to the public that we at Google advocate equality for people in the LGTBQ+ community. This year, the CSD parades were canceled in Germany. As a result, a lot of visibility got lost. We would like to work against this: We support you! Now and always! That’s what PROUT EMPLOYER says, and that’s why it’s important to us at Google.

In order to keep setting new goals as well as keep up with diversity & inclusion, Google also relies on the possibility of self-identification, e.g. as trans *, non-binary or LGBT*IQ. Can data really depict the people behind your employees?


Philipp Justus: We want to be a company that promotes diversity and lives integrity and inclusion. We want our employees to picture the diversity of our users – this is the only way we can develop products that are actually accessible and usable for everyone. We want to create an environment for our employees in which they affiliate themselves with. This includes demonstrating the diversity of our workforce which is, for example, possible through the process of voluntary self-identification.

“In Germany there are still many, many people who cannot be themselves at work.”

Covid-19 somehow surprised all of us and we now have to deal with it. In your opinion, why does diversity and especially LGBT*IQ diversity has to remain in the focus?


Philipp Justus: In this PRIDE season, digital media have been more important than ever – for the first time, on YouTube with PRIDE LIVE there was a German-wide, completely virtual PRIDE event on June 27th 2020, attended by politicians, companies(such as Google), and many activists from the scene. There has been a space created to come together – a space that, unfortunately, couldn’t be on the streets this year.

Where do you see the major challenges for LGBT*IQ in the workplace in the coming years?


Jannika Bock: In Germany we often encounter the fast assumption that everything has been achieved and that there would be no discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community anymore – especially not in companies that actively campaign for greater diversity. However, this does not correspond to reality. In Germany there are still many, many people who cannot be themselves at work. There are people who hide their (sexual) identity from colleagues and superiors – for fear of discrimination and who are exposed to “micro aggressions” in form of taunts and hidden jokes. That has to stop!

Dear Jannika Bock, dear Philipp Justus, thank you very much for the interview!