Diversity and Inclusiveness in Germany

Patricia Heufers, Germany

Supervising Associate, Core Business Services, Diversity & Inclusiveness

 

In February 2017, I joined EY as a senior expert in Diversity & Inclusiveness (D&I). Throughout the past year at EY, I have been able to gain many insightful experiences.

Before I started with EY, I was well-informed on how D&I was positioned in the company.  Nevertheless, I asked myself from the very beginning: “how will I actually make any difference?” D&I is a never-ending process, and EY plays a pioneering role with regard to D&I compared with other companies.

I work in the Germany, Switzerland and Austrian (GSA) Talent team. In my professional role, I am responsible for the operational implementation of the D&I strategy within EMEIA GSA. When people ask me what my daily role is like, I explain to them that it is very difficult for me to summarize it into one sentence. There are no day-to-day activities. Diversity management itself is a varied topic because of the many different dimensions. It addresses areas such as gender, LGBT and diverse abilities. Our objective at EY is to move away from all the different dimensions of diversity and live an inclusive culture. But in order to achieve that, we need to be aware of the needs of each of these diverse groups. We need to develop adequate offerings for all of them and raise awareness about the different opportunities we can offer at EY. We frequently need to be aware of unconscious biases and teach our professionals how to recognize this and acknowledge it. 

Raising awareness and changing mindsets are important parts of my job. I do this by promoting brochures and newsletters and by running events and training sessions. It is our responsibility to highlight the importance of D&I in all aspects of our activities (such as counselor trainings, recruitment or promotion processes, etc.).

We also advise and support colleagues when creating proposals or advertisements by modifying and developing concepts and trainings (e.g. currently our unconscious bias awareness learning journey as well as women’s leadership programs).

In addition to our team, all other Talent teams at EY are engaging in D&I. For instance: the reward team are currently focusing on equal pay; the career development team are looking at how we can make people aware of unconscious bias through training sessions; and our employer branding colleagues are currently addressing how we can target different types of talent.

My personal highlight so far was the “Blind in Business” workshop which I conceptualized and implemented together, alongside my colleagues.  It is a very good example for the inclusive culture at EY. The workshop is designed for all blind and visually impaired students throughout Germany. We spent the whole day with 20 blind or visually impaired students to tell them more about EY and our work. We gave them advice concerning their applications, CVs and they had the opportunity to practice a job interview. Additionally they got tips for their careers in a consulting firm. The workshop had been booked out within a few days and the feedback was overwhelming. This workshop created a relationship between us and the students to help them take the next steps in their careers at EY. We were able to welcome a new trainee into our Learning Team, thanks to the workshop. This workshop is not a one-off effort, the next one is already planned and set for next spring.  

For me D&I is and remains an exciting topic and I hope the next year will be as good as the last.