The diversity of the Four Rings
What will the ideal working world of tomorrow look like? Possible answers to these questions can be found on a desk on the second floor of the A51 “Market and Customer” building at Audi in Ingolstadt. There sits a lively woman who is motivated to bring about change: Carina Behrends from Diversity Management.
For nearly three years, Carina Behrends has worked together with her team to promote Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the entire Premium brand group – for example, through KPIs and surveys, workshops and awareness training, by reviewing HR processes, partnerships with international diversity initiatives and New Work projects. The goal of the team is to systematically and comprehensively anchor D&I at Audi and throughout the whole Premium brand group. “Diversity has very great potential. When many different perspectives, ideas and opinions come together, this can result in plenty of innovation, especially at an international company like Audi. We want to take advantage of this potential,” says Carina Behrends.
Studies, like recently by
McKinsey, show that companies with greater diversity, in this case gender, have a 25 percent greater chance of being more profitable than average. At the same time, they are more attractive to potential workers as an employer, according to a
StepStone study. A total of 77 percent of study participants indicated that they would be more likely to apply to a company that proves itself to be tolerant, diverse and open-minded. It is also of little surprise that employees who feel appreciated and included (can) work better and remain with the company for longer. “We want to create an environment where everyone can give their best,” Carina Behrends summarizes. Inclusion is therefore clearly an important key to success, with inclusion being defined as establishing a culture where there is room for perspectives of all kinds.
One company – thousands of personalities
Commitment to D&I involves more than many people think. Carina Behrends and her team give Audi a voice on national and international platforms and events, for example, and enter into dialogue with experts from other companies about what can still be done to achieve equal opportunities for everyone, both in the business world as well as in society at large. Employees are also welcome to take on an active role: Audi employees can make use of currently four Diversity Networks – which are open to everyone – to talk about their interests and to reflect their ideas within the company. Carina Behrends and her team support and bundle the work of these networks. In recent months, however, Carina Behrends – who holds a doctorate in Cultural Studies – has primarily been working on the scientific study “Mobile & on site” about shaping the hybrid work model at Audi.
But what does making work more flexible have to do with diversity? “In Diversity Management at Audi, we are also looking for answers to questions such as: How can we become a company that has room for many different life models?” In 2022, the Audi Group had about 83,000 employees, around 56,000 of this total at the German sites. At the same time, that means Thousands of different personalities and just as many different needs. “Diversity impacts all of us. We are more than just our job title. We are people who, along with their personal needs, should also feel at home at our company.”
Everyone should feel like they belong
But what does making work more flexible have to do with diversity? “In Diversity Management at Audi, we are also looking for answers to questions such as: How can we become a company that has room for many different life models?” In 2022, the Audi Group had about 83,000 employees, around 56,000 of this total at the German sites. At the same time, that means Thousands of different personalities and just as many different needs.
Carina Behrends has been dealing with the topic of diversity for some time now, even in her personal life: “I want to help people be able to be who they are. If I have the feeling that someone in my surroundings isn’t able to be themselves freely, I want to offer them my support.” Because of her interest in interculturalism and languages, she began a study program in International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau in 2010. In 2016, she started an internship in Sales at Audi – and the spark of enthusiasm for the company quickly ignited. “I took part in an international conference early on in my internship and was impressed by the number of different nationalities and the fascination of the Audi brand.”
She is also able to express her interest in cultural diversity via her passion project, the organization of “We.Together,” the International Diversity & Inclusion Days. In May 2022, the D&I team reached out to around 6,000 employees through the project. “We showed diversity in all of its dimensions: from international collaboration in preparing the multilingual program and all the facets of diversity through to the participants from all over the world. I’m proud of that,” says Carina Behrends. It was the first event of this kind that was organized together with the entire Premium brand group. Full teamwork across multiple areas – diversity at its finest.
And that is precisely how Carina Behrends sees the ideal working world: diverse, inclusive and international. And, as far as she is concerned, Audi is well on its way to achieving this.