How important employee networks are at ERGO

Interview with Bianca Boudein, Diversity Manager at ERGO

Magazine, 16.12.2020

From women's and fathers' networks to pride and inclusion networks - at ERGO, diversity is also lived out through a special network culture. As a Diversity Manager, Bianca Boudein is a contact point, networker and multiplier when employees want to make themselves heard. In our interview she explains the importance of networks and how she manages to bring people together.

Bianca Boudein, Diversity Manager at ERGO

Miss Boudein, what does diversity mean to ERGO?

Bianca Boudein: The aim of diversity is that all employees at ERGO can contribute their full potential - regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, origin, talents and skills and without fear of disadvantage, discrimination or exclusion.

What is your responsibility as a Diversity Manager?

Boudein: One of my main tasks is networking.  Behind this cultural aspect is the idea that we at ERGO offer people the opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and to become more visible in respect of certain topics. In other words, I coordinate, support and network employee networks.

Why are networks important for a company such as ERGO?

Boudein: A network is a sounding board and also an encouragement for many employees. It is much nicer and more effective if employees can formulate and represent their own concerns. That works best from within a network. It also makes it easier for them to exchange ideas with each other. Individual employees may not be able to make themselves heard so easily by their superiors or the management board. A network that represents their interests can do this better.

It started with the network of fathers and women, meanwhile there is also the Pridenetwork and just recently the inclusion network. What new topics have arisen for you through the cooperation?

Boudein: Before the founding, I had not had many contacts with the subject of inclusion.  I became aware of many things again through the exchange with the network. For example, that it is not only a question of gender-fair language, but also of inclusion-fair language. In other words, how should texts be prepared so that people who cannot read well can also understand them?  

How do you support the networks in achieving their goals after they are founded?

Boudein: In general, we see ourselves as a framework provider and "enabler".  I also connect the networks with each other so that they can support each other. In addition, I am also the interface to other departments, such as Communication. Of course, there is also the interface to the management board. This interface exists through the patronage of each network.  

How do you actually manage to bring the right people together?

Boudein: I like listening to people tell their stories. I have a fundamental openness to everyone and I am honestly interested in people and their concerns. Above all, I find it exciting to discover together how the development of each individual can be supported. I think that people can develop best with one another. That is why I want to bring them into a dialogue. Everyone can best get involved if they feel welcome as they are.

In the meantime, ERGO has been awarded several times in Germany as one of the best companies for women. Which aspects play a role?

Boudein: This demonstrates that at ERGO the conditions are in place for balancing private life and work. But this applies just as well to fathers or other ERGO employees. I don't want to focus so much on women or family. Basically, we at ERGO simply want to give every employee the support he or she needs to be able to make the best possible contribution to the company in every phase of his or her life.

Which diversity issues will become increasingly important for ERGO as a company in the future and for which networks do you still see a need?

Boudein: The issue of caring relatives is becoming increasingly important because society is generally getting older. There is an increasing number of enquiries in this area. What will always accompany us is the cooperation between the generations. After all, the understanding of work has changed over generations. That is why we all need to maintain a good dialogue with one another. Despite all the differences, the common ground is that we all want to lead ERGO to success. To achieve this, we need to create a good framework.

As far as networks are concerned, it is important for us that the need is recognised from within the circle of employees and that a certain initiative is developed from there, as has happened with pride@ergo and inclusion@ergo. In this way, a network gains a certain power from the very beginning. We assume that topics such as internationality and ethnic origin will continue to gain in importance in the future. After all, our business is also becoming increasingly global.

And the employees in the networks are certainly very grateful for the work you do?

Boudein: We would have to ask the networks. But I certainly feel how helpful the networks are as a contact point for many colleagues. After all, there are almost 800 employees involved in them. And I am very pleased about that. The nice thing is that people simply feel heard. And that makes a big difference.

The interview was conducted by Benjamin Esche.

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