BETTER WITH MORE VARIETY

DIVERSITY MAKES US STRONG

It’s the people that make Evonik a creative industrial Group. We all know how diversity boosts our success. Here, you’ll find out how diversity has long been part of everyday life at Evonik, where we still have a way to go, and what we are doing about it.
We approach diversity with diversity.

We love Diversity

Evonik has many faces. More than 36,000 people from over 100 countries work here. Every one of them has his or her own story. Here are five of these stories.

Peter Schwind Technician at Facility Service at the Hanau location Learn more

„I can get around very well here, and in any case I tend to focus on the things I can do rather than the ones I can’t do.“

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Peter Schwind has never had good eyesight. He already wore thick glasses as a child. But that never became an obstacle. After doing a vacation job at Evonik 38 years ago, he was hired by the Group. For many years, he worked as a chemical technician at the high-pressure pilot plant. But then his eyesight rapidly worsened. “It’s probably a hereditary condition, but even the doctors don’t know exactly what’s causing it,” says Schwind. “My retinas have deteriorated to such an extent that I see the world through a thick layer of fog.” Schwind, who is now 56 years old, is officially blind. Nonetheless, electronic magnifying devices and tricks that he has developed over the years help him to get around without a cane or a seeing-eye (guide) dog. This works so well that many people don’t even notice his disability. Today, Schwind works in the Facility Service unit at Evonik. He organizes conference facilities and makes sure that the technology is working properly and the necessary equipment is ready for use. Now that he can no longer drive a car or ride a bicycle, his job has become even more important to him. “It’s a degree of independence,” he says.

KERSTIN OBERHAUS Site Manager of the Wolfgang Industrial Park, Hanau Learn more

„There are differences between men and women. I’m convinced that all of us will benefit if we don’t all do everything the same way.“

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Kerstin Oberhaus is the site manager of Evonik’s second-biggest research and production location in Germany. As the first woman to be appointed as a site manager at one of Evonik’s German locations, she’s a strong advocate for diversity—gender diversity and beyond. “For many years, I was often the only woman in various groups and functions. I also worked again and again with teams whose members came from a wide variety of cultures,” says Oberhaus, who is now 50. She joined Evonik in 1997 as an environmental manager. When asked what she has learned about diversity and gender roles during this time, she replies, “That you shouldn’t compromise who you are in order to fit in! If everyone adapts to the same personality profile, diversity is lost. And diversity is so valuable. I’ve always been able to learn from others, and others have learned from me.” During her 20 years at Evonik, Oberhaus has seen the transformation of Evonik up close. “Today there are significantly more women in technical occupations and leadership positions,” she says. “A lot of things have changed, and we can be proud of that. But we’ve still got room to grow.”

MIN-ZAE OH Junior Project Responsible for the realization of the new ME6 methionine plant in Singapore Learn more

„My family and my career are equally important to me. It isn’t always easy to combine them. It requires self-discipline in order to concentrate fully on both of them.“

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Min-Zae Oh is assigned to a subproject on Evonik’s biggest global construction site. At peak time close to 3200 people were working on site with approximately 50 different contracting companies involved. At the end of 2016 he moved from Cologne to Singapore together with his wife and two children in order to work on the project. “My wife and I both grew up in Seoul and Hamburg,” he says. “We were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to live in Asia for a while with our children.” He adds that Singapore is a safe and beautiful place to live as a family. Evonik’s Global Mobility Center helped the Ohs to get settled in this metropolis. Their six-year-old son goes to the German School, and their three-year-old daughter goes to kindergarten. This was not Oh’s first change of location in his career, and it won’t be the last. “In every location, it’s important for me to live close to my workplace and spend as little time commuting as possible,” he says. In Singapore, Oh takes his son to school bus pick-up point every morning before a chartered bus picks him up for work. The bus also leaves the workplace punctually every day, so he’s always at home in time to have dinner with his family. Oh especially enjoys reading to his children before bedtime and spending weekends with his family.

TENIOLA ELUFIEDE Senior Project Engineer at the location in Mobile, Alabama Learn more

„There should always be at least one person in the room who sees the problem at hand in a completely different way. That way you get more creative solutions.“

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Teniola Elufiede left his homeland, Nigeria, in 2009 in order to study for his master’s degree in the USA. He was among the smartest in his class and immediately received a fellowship. In 2016 he was hired by Evonik for the Process Technology & Engineering team at the location in Mobile. Elufiede, who is now 39 and is married with children, is always called on when processes must be optimized or technical problems have to be solved—whether it’s in Mobile or at other locations in North America. “The teams are always reshuffled,” he says. He considers this a good thing. “At Evonik we need specialized knowledge and creativity,” he says, adding that it’s therefore helpful to bring together people with very different kinds of experience. “If everyone thinks in the same direction, something’s wrong,” he points out. Unlike the custom at his previous company, the teams at Evonik always combine at least the German and the American work processes. “That’s already exciting, and I can add my own experiences on top of that,” Elufiede says. He wants to add to his work experiences in the future. “One of the reasons why I wanted to work at Evonik was the worldwide job opportunities within the Group,” he explains.

SOMAYEH JAFARI Second-year trainee chemical technician, Marl Learn more

„I’ve found a fulfilling task and a good future outlook at Evonik. Even though the language is still an obstacle, I can make a very big contribution here.“

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Somayeh Jafari came to Germany from Iran four years ago. She initially stayed with a female friend and then moved to an accommodation for refugees. She can no longer return to her homeland, and she had to leave her daughter behind with her ex-husband. “I’m waiting for the day when she reaches the age of majority and can leave the country herself,” she says. Jafari, who has a degree in civil engineering, has found a professional future at Evonik, where she is currently in a trainee program for chemical technicians. In preparation for her traineeship, she learned German, received a Realschule (junior high school) degree from an evening school, and participated in the “Starting Your Career” program. “I’m the grandma among the young trainees here,” says Jafari, who is 33. She’s happy to help her fellow trainees with her outstanding math skills. “Every morning, I wake up happy,” she says. “I love chemistry and my job — and I’m thrilled to once again have a goal and a future.”

Dr. Christine Anders Head of Production and Business Solutions at Technology & Infrastructure Learn more

„I experience this almost every day: The best ideas are generated when team members with different backgrounds get together and everyone has a chance to contribute.“

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Christine Anders’ curriculum vitae has enough entries in it for three people. Ever since she came to Evonik with a degree in Chemistry in 1994, she has run a research laboratory for plastic coatings for medical technology, worked in the areas of controlling and strategic marketing, headed sales teams, and managed global key accounts. She has participated in joint venture negotiations and helped to formulate a corporate responsibility strategy. “I've always wanted to learn new things," she says. Today, Anders heads the Production and Business Solutions team. The 29 members of her team are called on whenever an Evonik location anywhere in the world has production problems that need to be solved. This kind of problem-solving requires a methodical approach and holistic thinking—but that’s not all. “Openness and tolerance are at least as important,” Anders says. “We get the best results when we include people with the broadest possible range of backgrounds.” As a result, she makes sure that she has a good mix of team members. Quite a few of her people eventually move on to fulfill completely different functions. “Here you learn to listen very closely to what others have to say, diagnose a problem cooperatively, and then involve people in the search for a solution. We’re not the only place where these methods are in demand”, she says. Anders knows what she’s talking about. After all, she’s been using this approach all over the world.

MEASURING DIVERSITY

Evonik leaves nothing to chance. That’s standard procedure for a specialty chemicals company. Concrete figures tell us where we stand today and where action may be required.

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Gender

2240

is the number of new employees we hired in 2017

24,9%

of our employees are women

10,8%

of our worldwide top executives are women

20%

women executives: that’s our aim for 2020

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Internationality

110

nationalities work together at Evonik

41%

of our managers have an interna­tional background

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Experience

632

of our employees were on parental leave in 2017

365

employees gained experience abroad in the Global Mobility program

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Age

41,9

years is the average age of our employees

14,6

is our employees’ average length of service at Evonik

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Education

1.900

young people were trainees at Evonik in 2017

7,6%

of our employees are trainees

38

officially recognized apprenticeship programs are offered by Evonik

20

refugees are being trained for entry-level jobs annually

This is what our
experts say

WE PROMOTE DIVERSITY

Evonik is open to anyone who would like to work with us on our success story. Together, each and every day, we create anew the environment that makes this success possible.

The more we can improve the work-life balance for each individual, the more diverse will be the employees that we can reach
tweet this MARTINA SCHLAUTMANN
Coordinator of “Beruf und Familie” (career and family) Germany
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How important is it for Evonik that its employees can reconcile the needs of their jobs with those of their families?

We at Evonik know that we have to reconcile both of these pillars of our daily lives. Employees make extensive use of our offers because the services are adapted to their individual needs and situation in life. Thanks to this Group-wide commitment, the Hertie Foundation has certified Evonik as a family-friendly enterprise for many years.

What exactly does Evonik offer?

Our offers range from flexible working hours, part-time positions and teleworking, to the provision of family-care grants. Needs-based services for parents range from advice on maternity leave, parental leave, and parental benefits to the procurement of child minders, au pairs, and reserved places at daycare centers. In addition, we offer a children’s vacation program and we have opened our own daycare center in Marl. Evonik also offers assistance specifically for employees who need to reconcile their jobs with caregiving. In this respect, we offer advice, seminars, and workshops that address this issue. We also arrange household-related services such as domestic help, pet minders, and gardening services.

What does all of that have to do with diversity?

Women continue to do the majority of the work involving childcare and caregiving. If we can reduce the burden on our female employees, we will make it easier for them to resume their careers and thus thelp to retain them in the workforce. In addition, our offers also enable men to combine their professional and family lives better. Both partners should be able to pursue careers and also have time for the family! In general, it can be said that the better we can enable a healthy work-life balance for each individual, the more people we can reach. Doing so also strengthens Evonik’s position as an attractive employer.

We’ve achieved a great deal. Diversity also requires work. But it’s worthwhile work, and we’re not shying away from it.
tweet this MELANIE KNAPPE
Deputy Chairperson of the Works Council at Evonik’s Goldschmidtstraße location
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How important is the aspect of diversity in the codetermination process?

Very important—and it’s been like that for a long time. Of course we’re delighted that diversity is now at last being valued at management level, and that Evonik is doing quite a lot to promote it.

Why is that important?

It’s worthwhile promoting diversity, because mixed teams are simply more creative and more successful. But above all else, it’s important for individuals. Without a diversity policy, many people would simply fall between the cracks. They would find it harder to participate in the job market and have certain careers.

Whose responsibility is it to change this situation?

It’s a task for the managers. This fact has long been acknowledged at top management levels. There’s still a certain “layer of clay” in middle management. Frankly, the company tends to evaluate the performance of middle managers according to how smoothly their units are operating. As a result, changes are not always welcome at this level. This is where we have to create the right incentives.

So is diversity a management issue?

Yes, but it’s not only that. The employees also need to develop a culture of acceptance. For example, we have to find practical solutions for part-time workers doing shiftwork. If employees have the feeling that other people are always getting special treatment, things won’t work.

What has changed at Evonik in this regard?

We’ve achieved a great deal. The offers for improving the balance between work and family life are being well received. For example, our childcare supplement is ensuring that more men are requesting parental leave. It’s easier for employees to return to their jobs after going on leave. German courses for employees from abroad and English courses for Germans are improving integration at the locations. Diversity also requires work. But it’s worthwhile work, and we’re not shying away from it.

If we support our employees in all the phases of their lives, we strengthen the diversity of our teams.
tweet this CHRISTIAN STOLLE
is responsible for well@work on the team of experts at HR Germany
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What is well@work, and how is it related to diversity?

Well@work is a Group-wide initiative through which Evonik promotes its employees’ health—and thus ultimately their ability to work. The focus is on nutrition and exercise, but also on reducing stress and promoting emotional health. We know how important it is to have a good balance between work and private life, if our employees are to remain fit for teamwork. If we support them in all the phases of their lives, we strengthen two things: employee health and the diversity of our teams.

Which offers are especially helpful for promoting diversity?

It starts with our support for childcare, continues with our support for fitness and good nutrition, and it doesn’t stop there. We always focus on a sense of balance and good health. The more we promote both of these things in an individualized way—in every phase of life and for every personal background—the more diversity we achieve, because through our programs everyone can achieve his or her individual balance.

What target group are these offers aimed at?

We explicitly want to reach everyone. Many of our offers focus on families with children, but caregiving is also becoming more important. This can be seen in the strong demand for advice and practical tips in this area. Of course we also want to keep our older employees fit for longer. But these offers are also meant for young employees, and even in terms of recruiting they are a selling point that makes Evonik an attractive employer.

Our sharing via the network helps to promote diversity in specialist and management functions.
tweet this ANDREA DIMITROVA
Employee at Policy Communication and member of Women@Work, Essen
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Ms. Dimitrova, what is Women@Work, and what role do you play in it?

Women@Work is a well-established cross-location network at Evonik Industries AG whose aim is to promote diversity in specialist and management functions. As a member of the core team responsible for Essen/Krefeld/Berlin, I cooperate with my colleagues on the team to organize local events such as “speed dating” sessions, where various specialist areas present their spectrum of activities. In this way I support the sharing of information and experiences within the network.

Why is this network necessary?

It offers a space where women can talk to their male and female colleagues openly and directly, across organizations and hierarchies and without encountering prejudice. It also enables them to make contacts and form relationships across locations and to support one another in their professional development, in line with the network’s principle of “give and take.”
Core teams have formed at the locations in the Rhine/Main and Rhine/Ruhr regions to promote the network, and they regularly share their information and experiences.

How well is the network being received?

We now have more than 700 members in our Women@Work community, and they’re actively using the network online. Even more importantly, our events, such as the regular lunch meetings, speed dating events, and after-work meetings, are now well established and well attended. Incidentally, men are also very welcome at these events, and there’s usually a good proportion of men attending—especially when we invite speakers from inside and outside the Group to talk about topics that are relevant to everyone, such as digitalization, different types of work organization, and future-oriented job models.

How much support are you receiving?

The initiative has existed since 2011, and our network is well established. This is can be seen in our high-caliber speakers from inside and outside the Group and our direct connection with the Diversity Council. The network’s main driver is the voluntary and active involvement of our participants and the supporters who sponsor our events.

If you’re interested in the Women@Work network, please feel free to get in touch with our central contact person, Susanne Eisner.

Diversity in practice makes us innovative and successful — but we can harness its tremendous power only if we manage it properly.
tweet this Dr. Nicole Brausch
Employee in the Executives and Talent Development unit and Head of the Diversity Council.
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Ms. Brausch, why is diversity important for Evonik?

At Evonik, diversity is more than just an aspect of social responsibility. We want to become one of the world’s most innovative companies, and we’re convinced that we can only be successful in the future if we adopt different points of view and promote the sharing of knowledge and experience in a world that is becoming ever more complex. This will enable us to develop solutions for problems, compensate for fluctuations, and seize opportunities more quickly than our competitors.

So, greater diversity means greater success — is it that easy?

No, not exactly. Managing diverse teams also requires a lot of work. It takes more effort to work with people who don’t think the same way you do. That’s why diverse teams that are poorly managed can end up being less successful than homogeneous teams. Making use of diversity as a key resource for achieving business success is therefore a central management task at Evonik.

How does diversity benefit individual employees?

We’re creating an environment in which each individual can contribute and develop his or her skills and abilities and is given many opportunities to learn new things.

What role does the Diversity Council play here?

We regard ourselves as a Group-wide coordinating body. The Diversity Council was established at the highest level of management, and the council’s makeup shows just how important it is. It brings together Executive Board members, managing directors, regional managers, and unit heads. The aim is to generate momentum in this area throughout the Group and to implement concrete measures that promote a sustainable culture of diversity.

What types of measures are you referring to?

The Diversity Council is focusing, among other things, on encouraging people to examine their subconscious preconceptions and prejudices. Experts believe such prejudices are one of the biggest obstacles to enjoying the benefits of diversity in our daily work. For this reason, we’ve launched a series of workshops around the globe for our executives and up-and-coming managers. The workshops make executives more aware of their own prejudices and present strategies for dealing with them.

How important is data for your work?

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. “Trust facts rather than your gut feeling” is therefore one of our mottoes. We try to create transparency, and we therefore report regularly on the most important diversity performance indicators. But it’s also important to look at the details. Every unit and every region is different and faces different challenges. That means there’s no single right solution (or target) for everyone. Instead, we place our trust in another one of our mottoes: “We address diversity with diversity.”