"We think it's important to create equitable opportunity."

World Women's Day 2023

Change & Culture, 08.03.2023

It is the first International Women's Day for Lena Lindemann, ERGO Group Labour Director, and Oliver Willmes, Chairman of the Board of Management of ERGO International, since they took over the sponsorship of women@ergo 2.0. In this interview, they talk about diversity as an important part of ERGO Ambition 2025 and what equality means to them personally.

Lena Lindemann and Oliver Willmes

Ms. Lindemann, what challenges have you encountered on your career path that show that we as a society are not yet where we want to be? What have you learned from them?

Lindemann: Women encounter the same challenges again and again on their career paths, and that naturally applies to me as well. That's why it's important for me to point out instead what has helped me: I've always had a resilient network. These are close friends and good mentors with whom I could exchange ideas in a trusting manner. They include women and men with very different backgrounds and experiences. It is precisely the different perspectives that are still particularly valuable to me today and make all the difference. Because of my personal experience, our employees' networks and mentoring programs are also particularly close to my heart.

That's why I'm all the more pleased to be working with Oliver Willmes on the sponsorship of women@ergo 2.0.

Lena Lindemann

Mr. Willmes, Ms. Lindemann has often stressed that we will only achieve our goal of having more women in management positions if men and women commit themselves to greater diversity. Why is it important to you personally to take on the sponsorship of women@ergo 2.0?

Willmes: For me, supporting talented women is an essential contribution to successful, diverse companies. Starting with women at the beginnings of their careers and all the way up to those who have been in management for many years. The potential of each individual employee is unique and must be addressed accordingly. I know this from my over eight years of experience as a mentor in the women's mentoring program. As Chairman of ERGO International, I am also concerned with the further development of female talent.

You can clearly see the results in the globally established "Succeed - Women in Leadership" campaign. It shows how many great women are in leadership internationally, from whom we can also benefit in Germany.

For me, the decisive innovation in the relaunch of women@ergo 2.0 is therefore that ERGO International is now also an integral part of the program and female colleagues from the various countries can make an important contribution as a source of inspiration.

I am therefore very pleased that Lena Lindemann and I will be able to contribute our experience as long-standing managers.

Oliver Willmes

The shortage of skilled workers is a challenge that ERGO is also facing as an employer. What steps are you taking to ensure that ERGO continues to be successful, both in Germany and internationally?

Lindemann: We can counter the shortage of skilled staff on many levels. First and foremost, we need to remain an attractive employer for internal and external talent. We can achieve this, for example, by creating a modern, more flexible working environment and a new type of leadership. Here we have set out on the right path with New Work and have already initiated many changes. But this also includes a diverse and inclusive working environment in which all colleagues can develop their full potential. In Ambition 2025, we have also set ourselves clear targets to increase the proportion of women in management positions. To this end, we are investing in further training, networks and mentoring programs to create good framework conditions for women in all phases of their lives.

However, diversity is not just limited to the issue of women in management positions. There are many other important aspects. Never before have so many different age groups been represented in our workforce at the same time: Four generations work together at ERGO. For us, it is important that people with different values, attitudes and experiences come together and contribute their skills to the challenges of tomorrow. That, too, means diversity and inclusion.

Willmes: Diverse teams as a reflection of society have been proven to boost corporate success. At ERGO, we promote a culture of cultural variety.

For example, we promote diversity at an international level, including through innovative programs to help women develop their careers. A good example is HDFC ERGO India, which is using the "Nari Shakti" project to specifically strengthen the proportion of women in thus far traditionally male professional fields.

This is also an area of focus at Board level at ERGO International: in our ERGO International Management Committee, female and, of course, male talents regularly present themselves and thus become more visible and present - also for future management positions.

These measures, both nationally and internationally, are helping to achieve the ERGO Ambition target of having 40 percent of management positions below Board level filled by women by 2025. Overall, the ERGO Group is already at 39.6 percent.

Lindemann: Oliver Willmes and I think it is right and important to create equitable opportunities for every employee. We are on the right track at ERGO.


Interview: Stefanie Neumann

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