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GDM 2020

The German Diversity Dilemma

German Diversity Monitor 2021

A Diversity Study by BeyondGenderAgenda

The German Diversity Dilemma

Due to the pandemic, the failures of German companies in the area of diversity have come much more into the focus of the general public. Therefore, the apparent inequality of opportunities for people with disabilities, of different genders, ages, sexual orientations and identities, as well as cultural and social backgrounds , once again significantly increases the pressure on companies to change. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are being demanded more and more intensively, leading companies to engage in pronounced diversity actionism. For example, women's quotas are published, rainbow flags are waved, and Diversity Weeks are held in a way that is noticeable to the public. As pleasant as this intensified commitment by the German industry to diversity is, the title of the German Diversity Monitor 2020 still applies: “In German companies, diversity is more lip service than reality”.

The results of this year's German Diversity Monitor show the standstill in diversity and highlight the risks companies run if they ignore diversity as an economic success factor and thus are in danger of slipping into the spiral of ignorance. Furthermore, we identify a clear relevance gap between the various diversity dimensions, which leads to the discrimination of individual dimensions.

Out of the Diversity Dilemma

The results of this year's German Diversity Monitor are alarming: two small steps forward and one big step back. The diversity standstill is putting German companies under pressure to act. To fully exploit the potential and not lose further economic power, diversity must be recognized as an economic factor critical to success, be given appropriate responsibility within the company, be provided with resources, and be defined as a strategic corporate goal.

Three measures are an essential starting point to resolve the diversity dilemma:

CEO is responsible for diversity
Provision of resources critical to success
Determination of an ambitious diversity quota

Despite the current diversity dilemma, companies should focus on the opportunities of diversity and initiate a comprehensive diversity transformation. The benefits will quickly outweigh the costs and will be appreciated by stakeholders in the early stages of the transformation.

Male defies legal minimum requirement

The dimension most often associated with diversity is GENDER. The high level of attention and relevance that this dimension experiences in comparison to the other dimensions leads us to expect a correspondingly high proportion of women in the top management of the companies. Board members in the DAX remain male despite the legal minimum requirement. The expansion to 40 companies in the German share index has even intensified the dominance of male board members.

Tina Müller,

Douglas GmbH

"The history of Douglas is shaped by strong women. The support of women is part of our daily practice and a central cornerstone of our success. We have at least 50 percent women at all management levels, and the trend is rising. At the top management level, the proportion of women is 2/3 – unique for companies of our size. This makes us a pioneer in Germany. With a variety of formats and campaigns, we set an example against discrimination and for inclusion: For example, on International Women's Day, we create space for exchange, networking, and dialog with our #FORWARDfemaleLEADERSHIP initiative. As a member of the "Initiative Women into Leadership e.V.," we support women in their professional development. At the same time, we provide targeted support for female founding teams. Gender equality is a matter of course for us. We must live up to our role model function. This is the only way we can make a real contribution to social progress.“

Pale facts behind colorful rainbow flag

The conspicuous presence of the colorful rainbow in corporate communications and marketing suggests a deceptive equality of people of different sexual orientations as well as gender identities. The reality of everyday corporate life is different. Specific measures for the target group are rarely offered and implemented in a sustainable manner. The gap between communicated ambition and actual improvement of the situation urgently needs to be bridged.

Dr. Richard Lutz,

Deutsche Bahn AG

"Deutsche Bahn sets colorful, loud, and visible signs for diversity and has strengthened its commitment to LGBTIQ* in the Group strategy with the diversity initiative "Einziganders" (uniquely different). The diversity of our employees is a valuable asset for us and an asset for Team DB.
For us, active support is not tied to campaign months. We work very closely with our LGBTIQ* employee network "railbow" throughout the year and help LGBTIQ* colleagues to stand by their identity. For example, we enable participation in coming-out seminars, offer peer-to-peer counseling on the topic of "trans* at work" and engage in close exchange with trans* employees through a wide variety of formats. At job and career fairs, we introduce ourselves to the LGBTIQ* community as an open-minded employer. We are also continuously committed to AIDS Aid.
For us, pinkwashing is a red rag. The flag of tolerance, recognition, and appreciation flies with us every day.“

Descent into insignificance

Apart from gender, the dimension DISABILITY is the only diversity dimension that is subject to legal regulations. However, the specified quota of employees with disabilities can be circumvented relatively easily and inexpensively by paying a compensatory levy for severely disabled people. But it is not only people with disabilities who are at a disadvantage when they are excluded from the primary labor market altogether. Companies also miss out on a major opportunity. It is high time to stop the DESCENT INTO THE INSIGNIFICANCE of people with disabilities as employees. People with disabilities must no longer be perceived as a burden, discriminated against, and their attitude perceived as charitable.

Raul Krauthausen,

Activist and CEO,

"There is no work that cannot be done by a person with a disability. It used to be unthinkable that a woman could become a doctor or head of a company, today it is quite normal for most people. How long will it take before it is commonplace for all of us that someone with Down Syndrome teaches at university or a deaf journalist asks questions at the federal press conference? Once employers stop using the payment of the compensation levy to keep outstanding colleagues away, we can finally begin to work in a 21st century work environment. We can all only benefit from this, both humanly and economically.“

Voices from the board of management

What importance does the economic success factor diversity have for your company?

Renate Wagner

Renate Wagner,

Member of the Board Management,
Allianz SE

"At Allianz, we are convinced, that a diverse workforce is key to high-performing teams, innovation, and creativity, as we can only understand and serve our customers best if we represent their diversity in our workforce. Our success factor for promoting diversity are clear goals supported by transparency, passion and strong management commitment!“

Sarena Lin,

Chief Transformation and Talent Officer,
Bayer AG

"Diversity and inclusion are very important to Bayer because they are crucial building blocks for our long-term success. An inclusive organization where people with different backgrounds and experiences are enthusiastic to contribute creates the environment needed for future growth. Creative brainstorming drives innovation, open and transparent communication improves effectiveness and productivity, and a caring yet stimulating work environment attracts and engages the best talent.“

Christian Sewing - Deutsche Bank AG

Christian Sewing,

Deutsche Bank AG

"Diversity and participation are important for Deutsche Bank because they help us to be innovative - and that is the basis for sustainable growth and business. Innovation does not come from everyone thinking the same, from everyone having the same background. It arises from the competition of ideas and from different experiences, insights, and perspectives. And from the desire and the freedom to introduce this diversity.“

Dr. Theodor Weimer - Deutsche Börse AG

Dr. Theodor Weimer,

Chairman of the Executive Board
Deutsche Börse AG

"We are 9,000 people from over 100 countries in 60 locations worldwide. For us, recognizing people in all their diversity is not only an ethical imperative; it is also crucial for our economic performance. Diversity means more than national origin and culture; it includes not only social background and educational history, but also sexual orientation, individual character and much more. And only those who appreciate and encourage this in their workforce will also do justice to the diversity of their customers and remain innovative as a company.“

The German Diversity Monitor 2021
for download

With the German Diversity Monitor 2021, for the second time after 2020, a survey is being conducted of diversity on the boards of leading German companies and of the inclusive work environment in German companies. This is intended to identify progress and changes and to make the impact of BeyondGenderAgenda, the most significant network for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in German business, measurable.

We would like to thank all participating companies for their willingness to further advance the important issue of diversity in Germany by responding to our survey.


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Press contact

Beyond Gender Agenda GmbH
Kaiserswerther Straße 282
D-40474 Düsseldorf
Phone: +49 211 909 889-62
Mobile: +49 173 763 6711

German Diversity Monitor 2020

The German Diversity Monitor 2020 by BeyondGenderAgenda, in cooperation with Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, was the first inventory of diversity on the boards of leading German companies in the year the initiative was founded.

„Der German Diversity Award verkörpert alle Aspekte sowie Möglichkeiten der Gleichberechtigung und Inklusion. Er trägt dazu bei, alle jene großartigen Initiativen sichtbar zu machen, die Diversität und Inklusion auf ihre Art voran treiben und so eine offenere Gesellschaft fördern. Wir freuen uns daher sehr, auch den diesjährigen Award wieder in der Kategorie Audience Award zu unterstützen und großartige Vorbilder auszuzeichnen.“


„Wir sind der Überzeugung, dass nur durch Vielfalt Innovationen entstehen und kommende Herausforderungen gemeistert werden können. Persönlichkeiten, die sich bereits herausragend für Diversität und Inklusion engagieren, sind die Vorbilder, die es braucht, um Veränderung zu bewirken. Daher freuen wir uns, den German Diversity Award auch in diesem Jahr wieder in der Kategorie Personality of the Year zu unterstützen.“


„Chancengerechtigkeit steht für die DB an erster Stelle. Die soziale Herkunft eines Menschen darf für die schulische & berufliche Entwicklung nicht entscheidend sein. Als eine der größten Arbeitgeberinnen Deutschlands wollen wir unseren Teil dazu beitragen und Diversity in all ihren Facetten fördern. Daher freuen wir uns sehr, den German Diversity Award 2021 in der Kategorie Social Mobility zu unterstützen.“


„Nach der gelungenen Premiere des German Diversity Award in 2020, freuen wir uns auch in diesem Jahr die Kategorie Ethnicity zu unterstützen. Denn wir sind überzeugt davon, dass es entscheidend für den Zusammenhalt der Gesellschaft sein wird, dass Menschen mit Migrationsgeschichte echte Aufstiegschancen erhalten. Es gibt nach wie vor zu wenige Unternehmen in Deutschland, die den Wert von diversen Teams erkennen und für sich nutzen.“


„When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization. Smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things. Our Great Place to work certification in 23 countries up to now are an important recognition of our strong, cross-regional workplace culture we are aiming for. We are proud to sponsor the German Diversity Award to honor those who are leading by example.“