Creating Diverse Companies Where Everybody’s Highest Potential Is Maximized

Ursula Schwarzenhart, Daimler’s Chief Diversity Officer, and Lars Einar Engström from Men Advocating Real Change recently joined forces at DLDWomen2013, an international tech and business conference annually hosted in Munich, Germany. Ursula and Lars are integration and diversity rockstars, with a professional focus on gender inclusion and equality. One vital element of change is forming allied relationships among different kinds of people to create understanding and collaboration. In their talk, Ursula and Lars talked about how to create progress toward achieving greater gender parity in the workplace.

  1. You can’t change somebody else’s behavior. You can only change your own. 
  2. If somebody’s words hurt or offend you, ask that person outright why they speak in such a way and what they mean to say. Be polite, but don’t accept wrong actions.
  3. Share books about gender with people who show they are sympathetic to understanding.
  4. Ask people if they would act or speak this way if their children or significant other were in the room. Chances are, they would behave differently, so ask them to treat you with equal regard.
  5. Focus on initiating change with people who are positive and show natural sympathy for your efforts, instead of focusing on the most resistant person in the room.
  6. Create a business case that demonstrates how mixed working environments help maximize creativity and drive a better bottom line. 
  7. Sometimes, you have to change rules from within. As such, learn the rules and play by them at the outset, in order to affect change over time from within.
  8. Creating a quota of mixture in the workplace is sometimes necessary, because a mixed group will naturally create a healthy culture that fosters equal expression.
  9. It’s not about adopting a male or female approach to work, but rather creating a space where many expressions of professionalism are highly regarded and respected. 
  10. Do business in a way that accepts a diversity of emotions–angrily banging a fist on a table or a crying from frustration are both ways to express passion for one’s company and team.