One of Freudenberg’s priorities to date has been equal rights for women.
That’s right. Change is best initiated when we can clearly measure conditions, when we can prove facts with figures. We have found that the higher up in the hierarchy you move, the lower the proportion of women – especially in management positions. That is why the advancement of women was, is and will remain one of our focus topics.
You personally are the first woman on the Freudenberg Board of Management. What advice would you give to other women who want to make it to the top too?
Even today, unfortunately, there is often the impression that women have to prove themselves doubly in their professional lives and earn their advancement twice over in order to avoid the accusation that they are a “token woman” who owes their job solely to their gender. This severely undermines the achievements of all those women who work hard to achieve success. Fortunately, I do not feel this is the case in my environment at Freudenberg. My advice to other women is to be themselves, remain authentic and go their own way. Regardless of gender, a wide range of experiences, such as time spent abroad, can prove helpful in your future career. Getting to know something different in your professional life, experiencing other cultures and adapting to them – I think that’s very valuable and important so as not to develop tunnel vision.
Where else does Freudenberg focus on the topic of “Diversity & Inclusion”?
As I said, it is easier to promote areas where we can measure progress in concrete terms. One current focus is on racial diversity, particularly in the USA, because we have a database there. There are many good projects in the Business Groups concerning the inclusion of people with disabilities; Freudenberg Chemical Specialities, for example, is exemplary in this respect. Other dimensions of diversity, such as sexual orientation, are not measurable because we naturally do not ask our employees about this. Here, it is important for us to create a working environment in which employees of all sexual orientations feel comfortable.