Raise the rainbow flag and live diversity

Interview with Daniela Leonbacher from the Pride@ERGO network

Magazine, 09.09.2020

An open and non-discriminatory approach to sexual orientation - that is why the new Pride@ergo network was founded. Network spokeswoman Daniela Leonbacher wants to support the LGBT+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) together with her colleagues.

Pride@ERGO - Daniela Leonbacher

On September 1st the kick-off event for the ERGO Pride Network took place. What made you decide to establish the network?

Leonbacher: To be honest, a friend of mine who works for another insurance company was not entirely blameless. She asked me what ERGO was planning for the Christopher Street Day. That really got me thinking a lot and I started looking into what ERGO is doing specifically on the topic of LGBT+. Since I didn't find anything, I knew that I had to get started here. The Diversity Management was thrilled that I wanted to get involved. And then we quickly began preparations with five or six employees. We now have 79 employees in the network.

What are the goals of the ERGO Pride Network?

Leonbacher: Of course we want the company as a whole to be seen as modern and open. In this way, we want to show that we at ERGO live diversity and are proud of it. In addition, we have set ourselves concrete goals. For example, that ERGO advertising also shows couples who represent the LGBT+ community. Furthermore, we want to be represented at the Christopher Street Day and support organizations on this topic.

To what extent does the LGBT+ community nowadays still have disadvantages at the workplace?

Leonbacher: A recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research and the University of Bielefeld showed that 30 % of those surveyed from the LGBT+ community are still subject to discrimination at work. Among transgenders it is even more than 40 %. This shows very clearly that there is still a lot of work ahead of us.

Have you personally had to experience something like that?

Leonbacher: Fortunately, not like that. At ERGO I have experienced that everyone is very open and accepts you the way you are. But when I'm privately on the move, I sometimes have to listen to a remark or get a strange look. You learn to deal with it over time and try to educate people in your environment about things and to get rid of prejudices.

Why is it so important to actively represent the rights of LGBT+?

Leonbacher: It's incredibly important to be active - all year round. We have to show presence and be role models. This is especially crucial for managers, who are role models for young employees and trainees. Showing the flag and supporting projects is a clear sign both within and outside the company.

What are the first actions the network wants to take?

Leonbacher: We have already implemented a few things. For example, we have developed our own logo and applied the ERGO Pride sticker to all main entrances of ERGO locations throughout Germany, which shows that we live diversity. This is a great signal from the company to show what ERGO stands for, right at the entrance. Our on-site spokespersons are almost fully staffed everywhere. Our to-do list, however, still includes, for example, the correct gender and thus a uniform language in the company, as well as the representation of LGBT+ in external communications such as in advertising, brochures and social media.

What were the general reactions to the founding of the network so far? Were there also prejudgements?

Leonbacher: Actually, there has only been positive feedback so far. All those who learn about the network give us nothing but encouragement and support. We have also received a lot of encouragement from the other networks. Outside of ERGO there have also been many positive reactions, especially through social media.

Are heterosexual ERGO employees also allowed to join the network?

Leonbacher: Leonbacher: They are not only allowed to, they absolutely need to. So-called "Straight Allies" are at least as important as the members from the LGBT+ community itself. They convey our message to the outside world and thereby also contribute their share to a colorful, modern and open ERGO.

Interview: Benjamin Esche


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