happy coworkers in a psychologically safe workplace
Psychological safety
Why it's essential for growth

Why organisations should promote psychological safety

Psychological safety sounds like a fluffy feel-good topic: all employees should feel safe. But there's more to it than that. Psychological safety is a basic requirement for any organisation wanting to develop positively.

Earlier this month, I packed my suitcase and headed to SAP in Walldorf, where the Corporate Learning Camp was taking place – a 'BarCamp' conference on learning and development. I had been wondering whether I should hold a session at the event, but I couldn't think of a topic until I stumbled across a post on LinkedIn about "Psychological Safety" and its importance in learning organisations. As I'm passionate about culture, psychology, and lifelong learning, this was right up my street.

two colleagues having a serious talk

What are learning organisations?

In a learning organisation, all employees strive to expand their knowledge to keep up with changing circumstances. For example, organisations can respond to new market conditions and take advantage of new technologies and expertise.

What does this have to do with psychological safety?

Psychological safety sounds like an easy thing at first: everyone is nice to each other; everyone feels completely safe at work. But that's not all it's about. Psychological safety means that employees feel safe enough to address difficult issues, ask questions, ask for help, admit mistakes, give their honest opinions, and challenge the status quo. This is an absolute must for learning organisations because, without all this, ongoing development is not possible.

(Self-)awareness is the first step to improvement

If we don't talk about mistakes, don't ask questions, and don't make or accept suggestions for improvement, we cannot develop. And this is as true for individuals as it is for teams and organisations. What's more, we run the risk of making serious mistakes if we don't dare ask for advice. Serious mistakes can also occur if employees are afraid of voicing their concerns. These mistakes can be costly and even dangerous depending on the type of organisation or profession.

 

In other words, psychological safety isn’t just that we express our opinions, doubts, and questions honestly, but also that we listen to and accept feedback. Being open to asking and receiving feedback means we are able to go beyond ourselves – we are able to grow as individuals. This also means we must let those have their say who often hold back and usually just accept painful criticism.

 

A real openness to growth and learning takes us out of our familiar comfort zones. It puts us in the 'learning zone', as the American professor Amy Edmondson illustrates in a diagram. Edmondson is an expert on the subject and points out that the combination of psychological safety and high standards leads us into the learning zone.

Infographic psychological safety

How do we achieve psychological safety?

For a learning organisation, psychological safety isn't a one-off goal but a permanent condition that must be nurtured. It's an effort that requires all employees. Leaders can lead by example, e.g. by gratefully accepting feedback or openly talking about their own insecurities.

 

As a team, psychological safety can be strengthened by asking normally shy or reluctant colleagues for their opinions. If someone questions the status quo and makes suggestions for improvement, we should reflect on these suggestions self-critically instead of labelling the person as a complainer. Psychological safety is a question of team and corporate culture and must therefore be supported by all levels and lived out in our everyday work.

A topic that hits a nerve

I was not sure if this topic would interest the other participants of the BarCamp at all, but I gave it a try. Contrary to my expectations, interest and participation in the session discussion was so great, a second session was spontaneously scheduled for later in the afternoon. I had obviously hit a nerve.

 

Anyone who has a few years of work experience in different companies under their belt will already know what a difference psychological safety makes. Without this safety, we try to avoid mistakes, don't ask questions and avoid standing up or standing out from the crowd because it can feel unpleasant. But when we reach the learning zone, everyone rises above these psychological barriers that hold us back. If we want to be in a learning zone, we are all challenged. Every single employee contributes to the establishment of the learning zone. And everyone who took part in the session at the BarCamp agreed on this. For some companies, it takes a cultural change to create psychological safety. Is psychological safety just a fluffy feel-good topic? Not really. If companies want to grow and develop, they can hardly afford not to address this issue.

Carlotta Pudelek

The author: Carlotta Pudelek

I've been a part of imc since 2017. As a product marketing manager for e-learning content and strategy consulting, I’m all about how individual solutions can help move organisations forward.

 

I'm also passionate about culture and mental health, which for me are closely linked to lifelong learning.

 

Let me know what you think about the article – I'd love to hear from you.

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Stepping out of the comfort zone – Wine-growing entrepreneurs, part-time managers and working dads

On 8th March we celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s focus is: Equal opportunities and equality of women and men. As in previous years, a large variety of events, forums and discussion groups are held under the hashtag #EmbraceEquity. Given our experiences during the corona pandemic, we at imc already asked ourselves last year, whether the crises undid decades of progress on the path to gender equality. As part of a roundtable discussion that included many external guests, we looked at the topic of “Women in the Hybrid Working World”. This generated a wealth of new and thought-provoking ideas. We wanted to know what has changed since last year, and how equality is realised. So, we asked our Executive Board and our colleagues.

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Part-time manager: Career with time for family

The return from maternity leave did not go according to plan. Lockdown made the envisioned full-time role impossible, as Sabine Sauer and her husband faced challenges many other couples were only too familiar with. They needed to balance two 40-hour working weeks with childcare. Sabine decided to reduce her hours in her sales role at imc. Her employer’s reaction was a thoroughly positive experience: “It was very straightforward. As a woman, I was given the opportunity to do a cool job without the full-time commitment.”

 

When talking to Sabine, it is obvious that she loves her job. “Improving processes and driving communication between departments is extremely important to me.” A few weeks ago, she was promoted to Head of Account Management. This came completely unexpected for her. “I think it’s really cool that my employer trusts me to handle this role even though I don’t work full time. There would be no chance of that happening at other companies.”

 

However, reactions to her promotions were often more reserved in her private circle. She would hear comments such as “How are you going to manage?” or “Is that not a bit much for you?”. The sportsmanship of the former marathon runner and triathlete shines through in how she handles these doubts. “You only improve when you step out of the comfort zone.” Sabine has learned to push through and encourages other women: “You will achieve a lot with good organisation and structure.”

IWD 2023 Sabine 02

Equity means for Sabine to do the same things without restrictions.

Working dad: Co-parenting as a family model

In recent years, a thorough change has become apparent among many fathers. They are no longer satisfied with being a weekend or leisure dad. Fathers now value family time as an important asset. Kenneth Littlepage – aka Kenny – is the proud dad of a 2-year old daughter. He made a conscious decision for parental leave. “There are various ways you can plan parental leave. We opted for a hybrid version, where I would work three days a week and my wife would work two.”

 

Kenny highlights that this model not only strengthened his relationship with his daughter, but also that with his wife. Both him and his wife would look after their daughter, handle the household chores and take responsibility for everything else on the days the other party was at work. Neither was exempted from any particular task. This helped him experience his child in a totally different way as a father. He also had to learn that everyday life is difficult to plan with a child, and some flexibility is always required.

 

He is very thankful that his employer offers flexibility and praises the new hybrid work model that imc introduced after the pandemic. “You can decide whether you want to work in the office or from home. That puts me and my wife on an equal footing. We have the same opportunity to coordinate our schedules and support each other.”

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Equity means for Kenny to be fair and impartial.

Between the office and vineyards: 2 jobs, 100% satisfaction

Simone Weber, Instructional Designer at imc, can confirm that equality extends far beyond the family context. About ten years ago, she took over her parents’ winegrowing business, cultivating the six-hectare vineyard together with her husband – on the side. Simone loves her work on the vineyards, which offers her a perfect balance to the “brain-work” at imc.


Leading a 20-member Instructional Design team, her days are filled with appointments and consultations. The vine is at the other end of the scale. “I am outside, all by myself. I listen to audio books or podcasts. Nobody speaks to me. It is really quite meditative.”


Simone appreciates the flexibility offered, but also wants to give something in return: “The grape harvest starts on a different date each year. I can take a 2-week holiday at the right time, whether that is in September or in October. My employer has always been accommodating in that regard. I will say though, that I am also willing to be flexible. If a meeting requires me to be on location, I don’t mind staying a little longer. There are times where you give, and times where you receive. I believe you need to maintain a balance – and that works quite well at imc.”

IWD 2023 Simone 02

Equity means for Simone to maintain a balance.

Self-reflection at the core of the imc diversity programmes

Equality and fairness – at imc, these two topics are not reserved for International Women’s Day.

 

Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy, has been heading the empowerHer Programme for almost four years, supporting women and young talents. She experienced many different aspects in her own career, both highs and lows. This is why fairness is so important to her now: ““Fairness means that we need to get rid of personal, unreflected prejudices and judgments, and biased, preferential treatment in order to create a fair and equitable world. Each and every one of us can actively support that within their own sphere of influence.”

 

Sven R. Becker, Member of the imc Executive Board, also emphasises that a holistic view of equality is necessary, and that it cannot be reduced to gender alone. “We need to look at a bigger picture of equality. It encompasses a variety in opinion, in work practices and much more. The most important thing is to self-reflect on everything you say,” he concludes. “In the end, it is people – not measures – who make diversity and inclusion thrive in a company.”

 

Thus, all of the company’s diversity programmes – from female leadership to inclusion – have self-reflection at their very core. Sven R. Becker aims to set a good example at all times. “I try to pay attention to my own words, and the effect those words have. And that is what I would like to see in others.”

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imc D&I crew looks back at 2022

In-Person and Remote: Members of the imc Diversity Movement Gather to Celebrate Successful Year

Diversity. It’s hard to think of a word that’s been more polarising this year. Heidi Klum used it in practically every episode of “Germany’s Next Top Model”, positioning herself as pro-diversity in the modelling industry. The reaction may not have been universally positive, but at least the issue was on the agenda.

 

And now sports fans, too, have been forced to think about diversity, thanks to it being a constant feature of the coverage of the recent Football World Cup in Qatar. Many found the focus on diversity unwelcome, but then again, many also felt the matter wasn’t receiving nearly enough attention. One question came up again and again: Does diversity even have a place in professional sport? Obviously, that’s not something we at imc can provide a final response to, but what we can say is that diversity and inclusion have become even more important to us this year.

diversity crew

In order to establish diversity and inclusion as broadly as possible in our organisation, we launched a D&I programme – a programme organised by our employees, for our employees. To ensure everyone can find what they are looking for, the programme is structured into three main elements: EmpowHER, a programme to connect and empower women at imc; the Cultural Diversity programme; and Diversity of Interests, a programme to celebrate the personal strengths of our employees and the interests that drive and inspire them.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

End-of-year debrief and campaign recap

With the year drawing to a close, we wanted to get everyone around a (virtual) table one last time to reflect on the successful year that was and look ahead to the year to come. And that’s precisely what we did. The D&I crew’s official end-of-year debrief was held in virtual form in December. The attendees reflected on the highlights of 2022 and then got down to the exciting business of what would be happening next. The short story here is that many of the D&I initiatives were so well received at imc that they will be continued in 2023.

The InspireHER tandem programme will be back next year, helping women within the imc organisation to network, share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback.

diversity crew breakfast

Next year will also see the return of the “Get to know more about ...” series of cultural diversity talks on ways of overcoming various stereotypes here at imc. The organising team has sessions planned for each of our locations.

 

The “Diversity of Interests” team is also keen to step things up next year. They will be organizing barcamps where employees from all locations will be encouraged to talk about and celebrate their respective personal qualities, knowledge, interests and talents – including personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

The official recap event was followed by a shared lunch at each of imc’s offices – the perfect way for the D&I crew to bring their year to a close.

Kerstin Steffen

Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy, imc

“Our end-of-year event was truly inspiring in every respect,” says Kerstin Steffen, one of the founding members of the D&I crew. “It’s so pleasing to see that our diversity movement is growing steadily and reaching more and more employees. We’ve already achieved so much, so we’re still totally fired up to keep going. This positive spirit shone through at our get-together, and we can’t wait to see what next year brings.”

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I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

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From cultural diversity roundtable to tandem programme – Our summer highlights of 2022

Diversity and inclusion is now an integral part of our corporate culture here at imc. Our workdays are generally pretty busy, obviously, but we will always find the time to champion this important issue and generate awareness of our initiatives.

 

We: that’s the imc diversity team. Currently there are 22 of us. To ensure everyone can find what they are looking for, we have structured the diversity programme into three main elements: EmpowHER, a programme to connect and empower women at imc; the Cultural Diversity programme; and our most recent initiative, the Diversity of Interests programme.

 

To ensure that this diversity programme is genuinely accessible to all employees at all locations, we are planning to run most of the sessions and activities in hybrid or fully online form.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

EmpowerHER: Round two of the InspireHER tandem programme

Last year, the EmpowerHER team launched their passion project, the InspireHER tandem programme. It involved 20 imc women meeting in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback.

 

The launch was a success, and InspireHER was held again this year, with 20 imc women pairing up for regular close dialogue and sharing. The matters discussed are confidential because the aim is to create a safe environment for open and frank exchange, whether on professional or personal topics.

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

“The closing session this year was a time of emotion for everyone, but also of laughter as many of us had humorous anecdotes to tell,” says imc communications manager Nadine Kreutz. “We all noticed that we had bonded with each other at a personal – as well as professional – level, and that’s what made these intimate and joyous moments possible.” Nadine and her tandem partner met up every Friday afternoon: “It was always such a wonderful way to end the working week, having a good laugh at ourselves and the things we discovered we had in common.”

How can we learn about and understand cultural diversity in our organisation?

This is the question our Cultural Diversity team asked themselves at the start of the year. A key focus of this year’s Cultural Diversity programme is on how we interact with each other in our day-to-day working lives. What keeps us from communicating with our colleagues from different cultural backgrounds in a natural and open-minded way? In the sessions and discussion groups on these topics, there’s one subject that came up again and again: stereotypes.

Diversity, cultural diversity

This prompted the Cultural Diversity team to look at ways of overcoming various stereotypes here at imc. For each of our company’s locations, they planned sessions dedicated specifically to cultural stereotypes. We still have one of these sessions to go before the end of October. It’s themed “Typically German”.

 

The Cultural Diversity programme kicked off in Australia with a session titled “Get to know more about ... Australia!” Samantha Mathews, business development manager at imc in Melbourne, led this session with warmth and disarming self-irony.

 

It pretty soon became clear that the Germans among us often find the laid-back Australian way of doing business rather off-putting. The fact that in Australia, meetings often start with informal chit-chat surprised the audience. "We consider it normal and even polite to ask people about weekend plans " Explains Samantha, "It's not uncommon for me to know what my clients do in their spare time, if they are married or if they have children."

Desk with family picture

This brought an ironic smile to the lips of most of the German colleagues present. After all, here in Germany, we generally start our meetings on time with the agenda and then get straight down to business. Or do we? We’ll have to wait until our session on Germany to see whether there’s any substance to this cultural stereotype.

Operation Christmas Child

This year’s programme featured the launch of our most recent diversity initiative. Called Diversity of Interests, its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people, focusing on personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

 

For example, this year Julia Heib, internal Communications- und Event at imc, will be introducing imc to a project that has been dear to her heart for many years. “With ‘Operation Christmas Child’, everyone has the chance to give the gift of Christmas to a child in need,” Julia explains. “This appeal has been a part of my family’s Christmas tradition for years. I get my children involved, and we have a nice time together, packing the gift boxes. I’d like to introduce the appeal to the entire imc organisation and get lots of people involved. And our Diversity of Interests initiative is the perfect vehicle for just that.”

The aim of the initiative over the next few years is to provide a platform where our people can share what’s important to them personally and find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that this initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects. A win-win all round.

 

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I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

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Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Diversity and Inclusion Header
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Diversity & Inclusion Isn’t Just for Diversity Week and Pride Month

Diversity is here to stay: imc expands its D&I programme

This year, International Diversity and Inclusion Day fell on Saturday, 21 May. Aware that it would be difficult to reach out to our team on a Saturday, we simply declared the entire week leading up to that date Diversity Week.

 

Our Diversity crew organised a wealth of engaging sessions and initiatives to make our D&I programme accessible to all employees at all our sites and generally raise awareness of this important issue.

 

To make sure there is something for everyone, the programme is divided into three key elements: EmpowHER, a programme to connect and empower women at imc; the Cultural Diversity programme; and our latest initiative, Diversity of Interests.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

„Be better, do better and live better together”

To get imc Diversity Week off to a strong start, the D&I team brought in a high-profile external speaker: Stephen Dorsey. Stephen Dorsey is an author who recently published a book titled Black & White: An Intimate Multicultural Perspective on White Advantage and the Paths to Change. During the week’s opening session, he provided a thought-provoking perspective on racism and prejudice.

 

Stephen joined our global video meeting at 2:30 a.m. (Canadian time) and, wide awake and none the worse for the early hour, gave a deeply moving personal account of his childhood and upbringing in Canada. Warm, open, and engaging, he provided food for so much more than just thought, his words striking a chord with many of our employees and setting up our Diversity Week perfectly.

Diversity Week 2022

Kenneth Littlepage and Julia Heib hosting the session

Show us what you love

Diversity Week also featured our most recent diversity initiative. Called Diversity of Interests, its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people, focusing on personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

 

For this part of the programme, we invited six people from our own workforce to present short, five-minute nuggets on the things they love. Kenneth Littlepage, one of our project managers, got the ball rolling with an account of his other life as a livestream football commentator for the Saarland Hurricanes. Our colleague Selasie Smith, a business consultant, spoke about her experiences of volunteering in the UK and about her own project, The Gentlemen’s Network. Nicolae Purcar, Director of imc in Romania, shared his passion for trail running, and Elke Zastrau, Head of HR at imc, talked about her membership of International Inner Wheel. Tyson Priddle, Director Digital Learning, Australia, spoke about his hockey club, Altona HC, and Oksana Buhay, one of our business consultants and a native Ukrainian, outlined her contribution to a Ukraine humanitarian aid programme in Stuttgart.

 

The aim of the initiative is to create a platform where people can share ideas and even find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that the initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects – a win-win all round.

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imc around the world: People who eat together stay together

Yay! We can finally meet up in person again! That’s certainly what our organisers were thinking when they initiated after-work potluck dinners at virtually all imc locations worldwide to round off Diversity Week. Everyone was invited to bring a dish inspired by their national cuisine or most recent trip abroad. It had to be something that had a story attached or some special emotional significance. The idea was very well supported. See for yourself:

But wait, there’s more!

This year will also see the return of a project dear to the heart of our EmpowerHER team: the InspireHER tandem programme. InspireHER is where 20 imc women meet in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback. This year, the emphasis will again be on personal growth and networking, with each pair free to focus on topics of their own choosing. The programme of events will close in July with the emotional feedback session.

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

The imc Diversity & Inclusion crew has every reason to be pleased with this year’s programme. The Executive Board’s Sven R. Becker is also very pleased:

“Once again, the feedback from the imc family on our Diversity & Inclusion programme has been very positive. It’s a wonderful testament to what a grassroots movement can lead to. This is a bottom-up initiative, something our staff created entirely on their own, so I have absolutely no doubt they will achieve their goal of making diversity and inclusion part of our company’s DNA and integrating it into our corporate culture.”

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Companies recognised early on that D&I management can also be of benefit to them. It has been proven that diverse teams increase productivity and business results. In addition, companies want to secure the best talents and this is only possible if they can acquire from a diverse environment. At imc, diversity is also seen as a driver for innovation.

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Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

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Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
diversity in e-learning
Diversity Has to Be Learned
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Corporate Learning is a Window into Your Organisation’s D&I Soul

Three golden rules for companies seeking to put diversity on their training agenda

Let’s say a company comes to us for help with incorporating diversity and inclusion (D&I) into the learning experience of its employees. Up until fairly recently, the first question we would ask would be, are you looking for training content that appeals to a diverse target audience, or training content that deals with the subject of diversity?

 

But things have changed over the past couple of years, as Philipp Schossau, Senior Instructional Designer here at imc, explains: “Making training courses diverse in terms of both content and visual appearance is now a standard requirement, irrespective of the subject matter. Diversity training, on the other hand, has its own special requirements – most notably a clear stance on the part of the client.”

 

Diversity in e-learning is clearly growing in importance. So, in this article, we have put together a summary of key recommendations for companies seeking to incorporate diversity into their learning experience.

diversity, colors, festival

All a matter of perspective? Tips for implementing diversity in training content

Prospective employees want to be able to see what a company’s position on D&I is, and how the company is championing the D&I cause. So, whatever the subject matter, company training courses should be diverse and gender-neutral in design. Here are three golden rules for making training courses diverse and inclusive:

Culturally diverse characters:

Whenever human personas or mentors feature in a training course they should reflect a certain degree of cultural diversity. If there are not enough personas to demonstrate sufficient diversity, then it is possible to use fictional characters – avatars – that have no particular cultural background.

imc Biz Quiz

Diverse gender identities:

Needless to say, learning content should aim to reflect and include all gender identities. It’s not enough to merely employ terms like “male”, “female”, and “gender-diverse”. The aim, rather, should also be to break down conventional gender roles and gender stereotypes. Our learning experts therefore always endeavour to keep their design concepts free of these outdated roles and clichés.

diversity, avatar

INFO:

We’re currently working on a diversity avatar creator. Before taking part in a training course, each user will be able to build an avatar that looks however they want it to, regardless of cultural background or gender role.

Gender-neutral language:

This often depends on the requirements articulated by the company in question. However, we strongly recommend the consistent use of inclusive language across all training content.

in German you can use "*" to create gender-neutral language

imc express bot with level up icons

GOOD TO KNOW

Authoring tools like imc Express automatically offer a range of output options and simplify the process of creating diverse and inclusive training content. With imcExpress, this process is controlled in the background via AI.

Attitude is a prerequisite for special diversity trainings

The role that D&I management plays in a company is rooted in the corporate culture. This has a direct impact on a company's learning culture. Those who want to implement special diversity and inclusion training into the learning experience of their employees must have a clear stance on it. For this reason, companies should always be clear about the goal of a training before designing the content.

To sensitise the learning audience to diversity issues and communicate facts about D&I, we recommend scenario-based learning. Scenario-based learning uses real-life examples and situations. The closer the learning scenarios are to real-life situations, the more relatable the taught (behaviour) rules will be for the learners. Sensitisation can be further improved by using diverse personas to make learners aware of different or new perspectives.

Ready when you are

Things are changing, and organisations are already taking steps to make their training courses more diverse and to raise awareness of D&I. But many companies are still holding back for fear of doing something wrong. That’s why it’s critical to support D&I with effective corporate communication and drive genuine cultural change. In other words, when it comes to D&I, companies need to be bold and have courage of their convictions.

long way to go, goal in sight

“The more global the company, the more likely that it’s already sensitised to diversity issues and will take the initiative and articulate diversity requirements for our projects,” said imc project management officer Kenneth Littlepage, Project Management Officer Business Consulting at imc in a previous interview on D&I. “Locally focused companies, on the other hand, tend not to be so sensitised, so it’s up to us to ask questions.”

 

However a company might choose to approach it, diversity is a topic that’s here to stay, especially for today’s younger generation. Warm fuzzy words in the corporate vision statement are all well and good, but they won’t carry much weight if the company is a monoculture of white men in suits or hides behind disclaimers to the effect that “the use of he and his is solely for ease of reading and refers to all genders equally”. If you want diverse people in your company, you actually have to make them feel included.

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Contact person

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Diversity & Inclusion at imc
2022 another celebration of diversity in all its wonder, colour and vibrancy

This year, the imc Diversity & Inclusion programme has even more to offer

imc kicks off 2022 Diversity & Inclusion programme with a celebration of International Women’s Day

“We’ll know that we truly understand diversity when we no longer need to talk about it. Diversity and inclusion must become part of our DNA. It must become just as routine as small talk at the coffee machine. And I think we’ve come a step closer to achieving that goal,” says imc Executive Board member Sven R. Becker.

 

To make sure it achieves this goal in the next three to four years, imc has a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) crew whose job it is to put together an annual D&I programme for all employees across all company locations. To ensure there’s something for everyone, the programme is divided into three parts: EmpowHER, a women in leadership programme, Cultural Diversity, and the latest initiative, Diversity of Interests.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

International Women’s Day 2022

The EmpowHER team managed to secure a high-power external speaker for this year’s International Women’s Day. It was none other than Ilse Henne, a member of the Management Board and Chief Transformation Officer at thyssenkrupp Materials Services. Henne’s keynote session on “Equality today, for a sustainable tomorrow” was a huge inspiration to its 120 participants.

If we feel seen, supported, connected and feel proud of other women in our community, then we can be happier and being happier is the best way starting to learn and develop yourself!
Ilse Henne
CTO
thyssenkrupp Materials Services

The day ended on a high note with the IWD Movie Night Party. For this, the team hired out an entire movie theatre in imc’s home city of Saarbrücken, where it screened “Hidden Figures.” The movie tells the story of three female African-American mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who played a pivotal role in NASA’s Mercury and Apollo programmes. Complete with popcorn and nachos, the movie night was a fitting end to International Women’s Day at imc.

imc Diversity and Inlcusion Book Club

Shared cinema experience at Bookclub+

But wait, there’s more!

InspireHER tandem programme

The day’s celebrations also marked the start of this year’s InspireHER tandem programme, an initiative particularly dear to the EmpowHER team’s heart. InspireHER is a programme in which 20 women from imc meet in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback. Launched last year, it was such a success, and received such positive feedback from its participants, that it is being held again this year. “The thing we really liked about the tandem programme is that it created a really strong connection among the participants,” explains Eva Lettenbauer, a member of the programme’s organising team. This year, the emphasis will again be on personal growth and networking, with each pair free to focus on topics of their own choosing.

 

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

Cultural Diversity

Our offices are spread across the world – across 12 international locations, to be precise – and are home to more than 350 people from over 50 nations. That kind of diversity creates challenges from time to time, but it’s a great opportunity to get to know other cultures and points of view. “I’m really looking forward to the programme we’ve got lined up for the Cultural Diversity group this year,” says Nadine Kreutz, a member of imc’s Diversity crew. “We want to give people at our various company locations the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of their country, including the work culture. The event dates are based on the national holidays of the countries selected, and the presentations will be given by colleagues from those countries.”

 

Diversity of Interests

The latest initiative in our D&I programme kicks off in May during Diversity Week. It’s called Diversity of Interests, and its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people. The focus also includes personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

diversity of interest

Diversity of interests also includes social commitment

The aim of the initiative is to create a platform where people can share ideas and even find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that the initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects – a win-win all round.

The imc Diversity & Inclusion crew has every reason to be pleased with this year’s programme. The Executive Board’s Sven R. Becker is also very pleased:

 

“Once again, the feedback from the imc family on our Diversity & Inclusion programme has been very positive. It’s a wonderful testament to what a grassroots movement can lead to. This is a bottom-up initiative, something our staff created entirely on their own, so I have absolutely no doubt they will achieve their goal of making diversity and inclusion part of our company’s DNA and integrating it into our corporate culture.”

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Cultural Diversity - Working in an Intercultural Company

Our offices are spread around the world, in twelve international locations to be exact. There are 49 nations working together. Today we want to take a closer look at two of our offices and met Francisca Lim, Brand Manager at imc Singapore and Gijs Daemen, Brand Manager at imc UK for a virtual coffee.

CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Diversity & Inclusion
Making a mark: A bright year for diversity

2021 milestones in the imc Diversity & Inclusion movement

How a grassroots movement became an integral part of corporate culture

At the start of the year, we made a promise: We want to make a real difference for Diversity & Inclusion at imc. We want to turn theory into an experience and get everyone involved with great offers. It’s no secret: We made it happen.  

 

You may wonder why D&I is important for company. Sven R. Becker, Member of the imc Executive Board, is convinced that diverse teams drive innovation: “Diversity creates friction, positive friction. Friction can promote innovation. Greater success through greater diversity. This, I believe.” 

Der Vorstand der imc AG
Diversity creates friction, positive friction. Friction can promote innovation. Greater success through greater diversity. This, I believe.
Sven R. Becker
Member of the Board
imc

Our objective: One programme for everyone

Our offices are spread across the world – across 12 international locations to be precise. Here, more than 350 people from 50 nations are collaborating. While this is often challenging, it’s also an opportunity. That is why our Diversity & Inclusion programme is designed to encompass all employees in all locations. To ensure everyone finds the right offer, the programme comprises three pillars: EmpowHER, a women in leadership programme, Cultural Diversity and Diversity in Talents.

 

The Diversity Crew now counts 23 permanent members in total. 18 of these support the EmpowHER programme while 10 are driving Cultural Diversity. As stakeholders, they meet regularly to discuss progress and plan events open to everyone. So much to the theory. But what does this look like in practice? 

imc Diversity and Inclusion

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

Making the programme come alive: What moved us in 2021

International Women’s Day and EmpowerHER Roundtable

Gathering women around a table where they can speak openly and in confidence to support and strengthen each other – that is the goal of the EmpowHER teams. The successful start on International Women’s Day was followed by a varied and vibrant programme. Under the motto “bring a friend”, each woman’s invitation to the roundtable came with the option to bring along another female colleague. The topic of the day was Women in the Hybrid Working World.

 

To facilitate participation across national borders, the event was held remotely via Teams. The meeting was not recorded, and findings and answers were anonymised before they were shared with the competent members of management. This ensured that the participants’ voices were heard without encroaching on their privacy.  

imc diversity and inclusion

Summary of the EmpowHER Roundtables

International Diversity Week

The imc Diversity Week in May was another highlight. Three sessions were available to all employees. One session focused on “Diversity as a Challenge,” a second on “Working in Multicultural Teams: The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Teamwork” and the third on “Unconscious bias” . All three sessions attracted high participant numbers.

 

Bookclub+

Our movie night aka Bookclub+ also proved extremely popular. Many colleagues gathered in a hybrid format to watch Moneyball together and engage in an open discussion of the movie afterwards. Since this concept proved a huge success, we are already planning to do it again.

imc Diversity and Inlcusion Book Club

Shared cinema experience at Bookclub+

Cultural Diversity Roundtable

In the autumn, we hosted the first roundtable of the Cultural Diversity Teams. As participants shared personal experiences, this digital event was not recorded, either. Thinking in stereotypes was a key item on the agenda. Is there any truth to German thoroughness? Do Australians really all like to chit-chat at the start of a business meeting? This culminated in the question how we can set these stereotypes aside and forge a deeper connection between the different locations. One thing the participants requested was to learn more about the other locations and offices. The team is now working on this for the coming year, planning many promising activities.

InspireHer Tandem Programme

In September, a project close to the heart of the EmpowHER teams got off to a solid start: the InspireHer Tandem Programme. For a period of eight weeks, 20 women at imc came together in groups of two to share experiences, ideas and tips, give and receive feedback, reflect and grow together.

 

On 30 September, the programme kicked off with an event, and each tandem met regularly throughout the subsequent eight weeks. They were given a guideline with various topic suggestions. However, given that the focus was on personal growth and networking, each tandem was free to choose what issues they wanted to discuss, and how they wanted to utilize their time together to get the most out of it.

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

The closing session in December was a very emotional event for both participants and the organisation team. “The results were mind-blowing. Our organisation team could not have imagined more brilliant feedback,” says co-founder Kerstin Steffen. “It really touched me on a personal level, and I am particularly delighted to see new friendships formed in the course of this programme.”

 

The programme created an opportunity to communicate across departments, see things from new perspectives, discover what participants have in common, and openly talk about challenges and passions. The InspireHER Tandem Programme will also make a come-back at imc next year.

 

Last but not least – The 2022 outlook

The imc Diversity Crew kept its promise. But that’s not all. The events and opportunities for participation and involvement were received exceptionally well across the company. That has encouraged us to plan on bringing yet another Diversity & Inclusion pillar to life: Diversity in Talents aims to highlight the extraordinary, special or surprising skills our colleagues have – on the job or in their private life.  

 

We’re sure you share our excitement and anticipation to discover everything the imc Diversity crew is planning next year. One thing is certain: It will be interesting, varied and will fuel many discussions.  

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Cultural Diversity - Working in an Intercultural Company

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CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Diverse insights
Why diversity and inclusion are more than nice add-ons

“Diversity must be reflected in the results. Greater success through greater diversity.”

An interview with imc Executive Board Members Christian Wachter, Dr. Wolfram Jost und Sven R. Becker

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are topics we should all pay attention to. They are widely discussed in the working world, in sports and on social media.

 

Companies realised at an early stage that proactive D&I management also brings benefits for them. After all, diverse teams have proven to boost productivity and enhance business outcomes. Moreover, companies can only secure the greatest talents if they recruit from a diverse environment.

 

imc also understands diversity as a driver for innovation. What exactly does that mean? We asked the imc Executive Board.

Executive Board imc: Christian Wachter, Sven R. Becker, Dr. Wolfram Jost

Thank you for taking the time. Let’s start with a personal question: How do you understand diversity and inclusion?

Christian: Diversity and inclusion means to go beyond being tolerant, and actually accept those who are different.

 

Wolfram: I agree. Diversity means accepting different backgrounds, because they are the basis for our life.

 

Sven: And diversity creates friction, positive friction. Friction can promote innovation. Thus, an inclusive and diverse organisation promotes innovation processes which are already difficult to control in themselves.

Where do you see a specific need for action in relation to diversity and inclusion at imc?

Christian: We are developing more and more into a global company with global teams. Interaction and teamwork across countries and cultures is becoming one of the greatest challenges of the near future. Thus, treating each other with respect and consistently setting a good example is crucial.

 

Wolfram: I believe we do take this topic very seriously at imc, and we are making a great effort to exemplify diversity. Many teams comprise employees with different backgrounds. We actively practice and shape the concept on many fronts, including our Diversity Week.

Let’s venture a look into the future: How will diversity and inclusion be practiced at imc in five years’ time?

Wolfram: That is difficult to predict. Our objective is to establish diversity as a driver and a key component of our corporate culture. We will actively manage diversity. If we grow sufficiently, we might have a Chief Diversity Officer by then.

 

Sven: We will know that we understand when we no longer need to talk about it. Diversity and inclusion must be absorbed into our DNA, and become routine like the small talk at the coffee machine. Yes, I do believe that we can achieve that objective in five years from now.

Christian, how does the imc approach to D&I stand out from other companies?

Christian: With nearly 50 nationalities at twelve locations around the globe, we are already an intercultural company. That is something special.

Wolfram, which specific aspects of the imc value chain can D&I improve?

Wolfram: People’s background already differs at birth. Based on these differences, they will also have a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Diversity means that these differences within a team create a synergy effect – people complement each other and achieve better results together. That is why our value chain will continue to benefit from diverse teams.

Sven, imc employees represent more than 50 nations. Which measures does imc take to promote diversity and inclusion? Is there one measure particularly close to your heart? Why?

Sven: The number of nations is not what makes an organisation diverse and inclusive. Say I have employees from 100 nations, but they are all married male Java developers between 30-40 years old – that organisation could not be further removed from being diverse. That is why understanding diversity in a wider context is really important to me. Based on that understanding, we can then explore the opportunities this brings – of course, that is an ongoing process.

Sven Becker Board Member imc
Diversity must be reflected in the results. Greater success through greater diversity. This, I believe.
Sven R. Becker
Executive Board
imc

What is the difference between the way diverse and non-diverse teams work? What makes diverse teams better? We have to determine the essence of this. As a Board Member, I also want to seize opportunities: Diversity must be reflected in the results. Greater success through greater diversity. This, I believe.

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The diversity of our employees from more than 49 nations makes us what we are: a Saarland brand at home in the world. Our clients around the world are diverse – so are our teams. Every single day they succeed in enabling individuals and organisations worldwide to unleash their full potential in a continuously changing world.

Diversity Wall, featured image

Diversity and inclusion at imc

What does Diversity and Inclusion mean at imc? And what is the "Diversity Corner" in the headquarter in Saarbrücken about? We will enlighten you in the interview with Kerstin Steffen.

CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Unconscious bias
Critical examination of one’s thought process

Dismantling unconscious prejudices and appreciating diversity in the company

Tips for dealing with unconscious bias - Interview with Vanessah Aurore Reck

The tricky thing about unconscious bias is our failure to acknowledge that it is part of human nature to apply stereotypes in our thought processes. We all have stereotypical expectations, as well as prejudices. The more we acknowledge that, the more we can reflect on it and the better we can handle it. That is why we invited Vanessah Aurore Reck for International Diversity Day. She is offering an impulse session on unconscious bias to our employees. I met with her in advance to discuss these topics, as well as diversity and inclusion in general.

 

Vanessah Aurore Reck

INFO

Vanessah Aurore Reck teaches intercultural management at Saarland University in Saarbrücken. She is currently writing her PhD thesis on integration. She has a thematic and personal connection to the topic.

 

Vanessah grew up in Madagascar. She moved to Germany at the age of 12, and continued her studies there. After graduating from high school, she studied intercultural communication, Spanish and law in Saarbrücken. She explains that this sparked her passion for intercultural issues.

 

Working on her PhD thesis, she is examining which factors contribute to successful integration.

Hello Vanessah! Thank you for taking the time. I will start with my first question: What does diversity and inclusion mean for a company? What benefits does active D&I management bring?

That depends on the corporate culture. Is it still necessary to use diversity as a selling point to attract good applicants? Or has it already become standard practice? In fact, maybe diversity no longer is the actual topic, but rather the corporate culture itself? Having a culture in which all employees thrive regardless of their backgrounds and such?

 

I’m under the impression that these topics have not yet been discussed in such breadth in Germany, as has been the case in the USA or other English-speaking countries. Thus, companies in Germany should ask themselves what role diversity plays in their own corporate culture and the company’s identity. For example, diversity might be of greater significance for companies with global operations where communication is key. However, no company should have to put diversity and inclusion on the agenda – at least not beyond the legal requirements. A far more interesting question for a company might be: How can diversity help an organisation achieve its goals?

Icon representing real-time communication

You are going to talk about the issue of unconscious bias. How would you define that term?

The term is originally rooted in psychology. However, I tend to focus on the cultural science component, and the reasons for its significance in an intercultural working environment. We have to remember that a bias is typically based on stereotypes and prejudices. In most cases, it is an attitude that we are not aware of, but this unconscious perception can lead to conscious discrimination.

 

This transition from unconscious to conscious is what creates issues. That is when you arrive at an extreme attitude, such as racism. It is important to differentiate these terms clearly.

Vanessah Aurore Reck
The key is to reflect on one’s own unconscious bias.
Vanessah Aurore Reck
Saarland University
Workplace health

At what point is it important for a company to deal with this topic?

It becomes crucial when a global corporation like Google strives to attract the crème de la crème of employees. Clearly, this crème de la crème is not just composed of white 50-year-old men. It is very diverse. It goes without saying that the company must create a suitable working environment if it wants to acquire such top talents. Taking this further, evaluating this issue is equally beneficial to companies seeking to attract outstanding candidates in other contexts.

 

The key is to reflect on one’s own unconscious bias – both on an organisational and on a personal level. Thus, awareness needs to be created.

Can you offer practical tips for dealing with unconscious bias?

The standards proposed by the scientific community sometimes appear engineered. Tools like intercultural training or workshops might be of interest. However, this typical form of training has also garnered criticism, as there is concern that they also encourage the reproduction of stereotypes. Nevertheless, such training is a good starting point for creating awareness for the topic, to make people appreciate its importance and spark an interest.

 

Also, there is more specialized training on unconscious bias that is based on psychological tenets and is therefore empirical in nature. However, that necessitates access to tools for understanding these empirical findings and transforming them into specific actions.

 

The Harvard Implicit Association Test takes yet another approach. It basically measures how unconsciously biased an individual is.

 

Personally, I believe it is important to strengthen the communication relating to this topic within the company; to create a shared culture with all employees that also offers safe spaces. This establishes a point of contact for victims of discrimination while also providing a platform for other employees to express their insecurities.

What specific actions would you say managers can employ to minimise bias within their teams?

Participation and communication. Examining and analysing internal processes from a new perspective while involving the affected minority groups.

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CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach, Communications Manager, imc AG
Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager