Diversity Day at IMC: Promoting Potential, Shaping Diversity
Luckily, we're not all the same. It is the diversity of lifestyles, personalities, attitudes, looks and much more that makes our lives and our work environments colourful, exciting and diverse.
It is therefore important for IMC as an international company to place diversity at the very heart of the company values. Our 305 employees from 39 nations are different but still the same as they are all united by the unique IMC spirit.
An important step towards fair cooperation lies in the fact of recognizing and using the advantages of diversity. Ideas, perspectives and life plans that arise from diversity and difference can be used in all areas of the company, for example to increase product diversity, to find innovative solutions or to carry fresh inspiration into the areas of research and development.
In our expert interview, we asked Elke Zastrau, Head of HR at IMC, why it is important to reflect on diversity and why it should be understood as a holistic, strategic management instrument.
What does diversity mean at IMC?
At IMC, it is very important for us to protect, value and constructively promote the diversity of perspectives that our employees bring into the company due of their different origins and sets of competencies.
What counts for us are personalities and the quality of their results, regardless of any special features that a person personally or professionally represents. Gender, age, nationality, culture, health impairments, religion, sexual orientation, education or social background are irrelevant. We thus represent a broad understanding of diversity that focuses on the strengths, commitment and motivation of our employees. We refuse to compromise on the protection of the rights of various employee groups. We have therefore introduced clear standards and transparent processes to anticipate the event of misconduct.
In other words, at IMC everyone has the same rights and opportunities and we use our diversity in a constructive way.
The principle of "diversity" is deeply rooted in the DNA of IMC and has many facets. For over 20 years our mission has been to empower employees through digital learning solutions and to add value to the value chain of organisations. The necessity to think and act differently is a natural and essential component of learning processes, but also plays a crucial role in our core business: the conception, development and implementation of new ideas including strategic consulting for our clients. The systematic integration of diverse perspectives and new approaches is fundamental when it comes to achieving the best possible solution for our clients. Diversity put into practice thus creates added value and represents a strategic competitive advantage for IMC.
Diversity can also be observed on other levels: Our customers are very different, the diversity of content offered by our digital training courses is virtually endless, and last but not least it is our interdisciplinary and multicultural teams that make us special. For years, we have also been growing successfully on an international level together with our globally active customers. When they have to decide whether or not they wish to engage in a longstanding partnership with IMC, they certainly do not only take into account the innovative strength of our company as important selection criteria. Our diversity and openness also plays a major role here.
I am proud that all colleagues at IMC behave in a highly sensitive, open and tolerant way and that they consider personal and professional differences as a source of opportunity and inspiration in professional cooperation.
Diversity at IMC allows us as a company to act fairly in accordance with national and international standards, to learn from each other, to be more successful and, last but not least, to have more fun together.
What challenges does an internationally active company have to face? Why does diversity play a major role here?
It is our aim to further develop our existing international business and to push forward IMC's global expansion. This entails high demands on the adaptability of the employees within IMC and the ability of the organisation to cope with continuously changing market conditions and customer structures.
A strong diversity management, which is anchored in the corporate strategy, always helps to increase operational effectiveness, problem-solving and conflict-solving skills and the loyalty of employees provided they feel that their points of view are valued and put into practice.
A further challenge for IMC is to win talents at a global level and to encourage them to shape best practice in digital learning. A corporate culture based on diversity considerably increases our attractiveness as an employer. In interviews, applicants explicitly ask about the company culture and the extent to which diversity is valued within the organization, and I am sure that for many candidates this aspect plays a key role when it comes to choosing IMC as an employer.
Currently, employees from 39 different nations work at IMC in 9 locations worldwide. This means that, statistically, at least every seventh employee represents a different nationality or culture.
It is also important to us that innovations and best practices, which are often developed in our country organization, are rolled out from there within the entire company.
What influence does diversity have on digitisation?
The use of new technologies obviously influences the digital transformation that companies must manage with regard to their products, services and processes.
However, we shouldn’t forget the impact of creativity when it comes to successfully developing innovative ideas and technologies. Diversity promotes creativity, and creativity promotes innovation.
People who work in diverse teams practice special skills. They work together despite their different convictions and working methods, promote new techniques and integrate them into the development of new products and services. The requirements of the team concerning skills such as active listening, empathy, openness and patience are probably higher than in homogeneous groups. The gain, however, is more creativity, a higher learning curve and better productivity.
Managers who succeed in identifying and integrating diverse potentials are therefore highly likely to be more successful when it comes to bringing forward digitization in critical areas such as process design, strategy development, business models and competence building.
Conversely, digitization also allows to promote diversity in organizations. More and more companies are investing in digital technologies to implement diversity programs, for example to meet compliance requirements. This becomes important for instance when a company must teach employees how to take objective decisions based on non-personal data or to share knowledge within the organization in order to achieve more transparency. Digital tools can support this very efficiently.
IMC has developed excellent digital trainings that renowned organizations and multinational institutions successfully use to sensitize their employees, educate them about their rights and encourage them to change their behaviour. For example, IMC has created a training course for executives on the topic of "fair decision-making" for an international market-leading strategy consulting firm that examines and advises organizations on best practices in diversity management. Other topics realised in this context are for example anti-discrimination, code of ethics, integrity and inclusion.
By offering these trainings, we at IMC are contributing to improving the world a little and we are proud of this!
What measures does IMC intend to take to raise
peoples’ awareness for diversity issues?
Between 21 and 31 May, everything will be loud and colourful at IMC, because we want to give space to the diversity that unites us. For the "World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development" and the "German Diversity Day" we have planned some interactive events and activities. Our aim is to demonstrate across all borders how we live diversity now, how we want to live it in the future and how we network and celebrate together. As a company, we will also sign the “Charter of Diversity” a symbolic act that is both a starting signal and an incentive for the next level of diversity at IMC.
How is the tolerance for diversity in the company to be expanded in the future?
IMC as an organisation already thinks and acts in a highly diverse way. The 'IMC Diversity Day' is a perfect occasion to celebrate diversity, but also to think about how we can improve when it comes to better using existing potentials. Our aim is to further develop the existing sensitivity and tolerance for the diversity of perspectives. This also concerns the awareness for the need to protect and support these different mindsets and integrate them into our processes. We wish to start a dialogue with our employees and understand to which extent they perceive IMC as an inclusive company and where they see need for improvement. A concrete example of this is the initiative of an Australian colleague who recently submitted suggestions on how women can be more specifically addressed in our recruiting activities. We are grateful for this suggestion and will implement it quickly.
All in all, our goal for the future is to institutionalise tolerance within the framework of an organisationally anchored diversity management strategy, which is an integral part of the corporate strategy and is supported and prioritised accordingly by the IMC management.
What is your personal goal for diversity at IMC?
I think that every whole entity is much more than just the sum of its parts. My personal goal is to work towards an "inclusive" organization, because, as the Boston Consulting Group puts it, "Diversity plus inclusion is the source of real value". This means that not only a measurable variety of perspectives, views and approaches coexist at IMC, but that their potential is unfolded in an even better way, which creates the best conditions for a fair, creative, innovative and sustainably successful working environment at IMC.
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