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Diversity is an essential part of any business, regardless of size and industry. Having a healthy mix of people with a broad range of opinions and experience has been proven to have significant benefits. At Bosch Rexroth, we’re convinced that diversity is positively impacting our business, and that of our customers, particularly where innovation is concerned.
With more than 31,000 individuals in over 80 countries, at Bosch Rexroth we view our diversity as one of our major strengths. We see first-hand the difference it makes to our business and to our customers. It helps us to be more creative in our innovation and come up with new ways of doing things. In short, it enables us to better solve our customers’ problems and provide the solutions they need. After all, having access to a huge pool of talent with a wide range of skills, experience and opinions gives us insight into the different needs and motivations of our customers.
”Diversity is about listening to all kinds of experiences, welcoming multiple perspectives and seeking the innovative potential that diversity offers. Having this in mind, it’s essential for us to promote diversity in our company. As a board member, I feel responsible for broadening the understanding of diversity and leveraging it for the transformation of our company and industry”, says Holger von Hebel, the member of the executive board that’s responsible for the company’s commercial activities.
”True, and we still have some way to go. In my previous roles outside of Bosch Rexroth, I was able to experience first-hand how powerful a diverse team is. You can expect better outcomes, increased creativity, higher profits and much more fun. We should be really proud of our Bosch Rexroth team worldwide for working on this impactful and important topic, having conversations and setting the bar to the next level for a stronger future together”, adds Thomas Donato, the member of the executive board that’s responsible for the mobile hydraulics division.
But what exactly does diversity mean for our associates? How do they experience or take advantage of diversity? We’ve asked associates from all around the world.
I work in a very diverse team. Having people with various perspectives, cultures, competences and experiences all looking at the same problem and coming up with different solutions is crucial for innovation. However, more diversity doesn’t automatically translate into better performance. Managing that diversity requires a different set of leadership behaviors. Our experience is that diversity makes a significant contribution to the personal and professional growth of each team member. Instead of hiding the differences, we’re highlighting them. This might be uncomfortable at the beginning. Diversity can provoke conflict or additional and longer discussions, but this is how the team comes to more robust conclusions, considering unusual perspectives. It pays off.
I've never made a secret of my sexual orientation, but I've never made it public either. In the almost three decades that I’ve worked at Bosch Rexroth, I haven’t had any negative experiences. On the contrary, after a newspaper article about Bosch Rexroth's participation in Christopher Street Day and an interview with me about it, I’ve received exclusively positive feedback, even from colleagues from whom I wouldn’t have expected it. And that’s what makes working at Bosch Rexroth so special. Despite all the diversity that makes working together so colorful and interesting, we’re all the same – people. With b:proud, we also have a great network for our community within the group, with a small branch in Lohr, where I work. It would be great if we could grow a bit more.
The manufacturing industry needs the potential and talent of women to help overcome the economic challenges. There might be a perception of gender roles that makes women feel industry “isn’t for them”. Role models for leadership and on the shop floor are lacking. Moreover, there’s a perception that a job in manufacturing is monotonous assembly line tasks or work that’s done in a dirty and dangerous environment – preconceptions that bear little resemblance to the modern, innovative and technologically advanced manufacturing operations at Bosch Rexroth. I’m very happy to see that women are conquering more space in the manufacturing environment.
Having been born and brought up in Malaysia, which is a multicultural country, working in a diverse environment has made me feel at home and it’s also enabled me to adapt to the new working environment easily. I worked with diverse groups of people during my university days and also throughout most of my career. I feel that a diversified atmosphere is an important asset for every organization, as I’ve personally experienced it. Travelling is my passion and I’ve visited about 30 countries. I’ve also lived in three different countries since I left school. Through travelling, I meet different people from different cultural backgrounds and age groups, which has been very helpful for my current role. I’m now located in Glenrothes, Scotland, and I’m glad to be part of a diversified team with a wide range of experience, skills and perspectives. Cultural diversity enhances our working atmosphere and strengthens us as a team.
We’re all influenced by our biases and it plays an important role in the way we make decisions. Unconscious bias impacts our decision making in hiring and performance evaluation. It’s driving us toward the easiest and quickest solutions at the expense of more innovative ideas. Our biases make us resistant to change and new ideas and our business activities don’t reach their true potential. My job as a leader is to understand how these biases influence my daily decisions and remain aware that they exist. I try to build a team culture that encourages open dialogue and diverse thinking. I strongly believe that we can innovate our markets the most by promoting diverse thinking, in order to make the best ideas become a reality. Innovation happens when out-of-the-box ideas are brought to the table. The more diverse your team is, the better and more numerous these groundbreaking ideas will be. I’m absolutely convinced that this is the key to removing biases from our daily business.
I came to Germany 18 years ago. There are about 50 colleagues at Bosch Rexroth who are from China but now work in Germany. We established a Chinese community at grassroots level in 2018 and we regularly exchange ideas and organize events to explain Chinese culture and current developments in China. In February, for example, we organized a debate to practice how to argue, as we noticed that we Chinese have room for improvement in this area. Last December, we invited our board member, Marc Wucherer, and over one hundred colleagues to discuss digitalization developments in China, to see what ideas this might generate for Bosch Rexroth. The general feeling in our Chinese network is that we’ve been given this opportunity in Germany and need to actively seize it by learning the language and culture, in order to understand, contribute and be heard. People are different, but also have things in common. I think a primeval forest is a good analogy for diversity. Its mix not only makes the system vibrant and sustainable, it also benefits and protects the individuals in it.
How many times have you heard the phrase “thinking outside the box” when talking about innovation? Diversity gives you the chance to do exactly that by bringing different viewpoints together and creating the right environment from which new ideas can spring. That’s why I think diversity isn’t just a “nice to have”. It can be a real competitive advantage for companies that want to succeed in this ever-changing world.
Almost two years ago, I moved to our new Customer and Innovation Center in Ulm. It’s called the CU.BE. and it’s proved to be a real success story when it comes to diversity. There are a real mix of people from more than 30 countries working there. In the team I work in, there are people from Germany, Mexico, Spain and Italy. Everyone adds their own individual value thanks to their background and way of approaching problems. This gives an unmeasurable push to the development of innovative products.
As the Mover for Diversity at Bosch Rexroth, I get to learn about the many initiatives that the company is driving forward. As well as running internal campaigns, we’re part of many organizations and networks in Germany and worldwide that promote diversity.