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David Dysinger: About the importance of allyship and grassroots initiatives

David Dysinger: About the importance of allyship and grassroots initiatives

Reading time for this article: 6 minutes

The BSH campaign “Nominate Your Diversity Champion” was launched to raise the awareness for all of the different initiatives that foster Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (short: DEI) in different departments and countries – and the people behind these activities. Today, we present you a conversation with one of the nominees David Dysinger, Head of US Development, about the value of true allyship and sustainable change towards thriving diverse teams.

How do you feel about being nominated as Diversity Champion and what does it (the nomination) mean to you?

To be honest, I was a little surprised. I’m only one of many “Diversity Champions” in my region. We have an amazing DEI Council and a fantastic Cultural Ambassador Network driving change every day. I’m happy to use this as a chance to make their voices a little louder!

How would you define Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? 

First of all, diversity comes as a natural consequence of a deliberate focus on equity and inclusion.

I personally believe that inclusion, for example, is the gateway to reaching our full potential, whether that’s personally, or at BSH.  One of the benefits of working for a multinational company is access to so many different perspectives.  If we don’t embrace those points of view, or exploit those talents by not providing an inclusive environment, we waste one of the biggest assets we carry ultimately, our diversity.

Do you want to share your personal motivation for pushing DEI at your workplace?

Well, I can certainly say that I have personally benefited from participating on diverse teams. I intentionally try to surround myself with people that think, behave, and react differently than myself.

I have personally found that if I only surround myself with people like me, we would have nothing but overly optimistic, hopelessly naive, bad dad joke telling, romantics, but that may not be all that’s needed to be successful… Just ask my wife.

In all seriousness, I can’t imagine being well rounded enough personally to rely only on the experiences that I have had in my life, and to not capitalize on the wealth of experiences and know-how that others can bring.  

You are one of the founding members of the newly established department’s DEI Council. Do you want to share your responsibilities in this Council and what the Council was founded for?

I think the first step was for us to acknowledge that the world is changing, and we all need to change along with it.  I’m super excited to have the opportunity to participate on the newly formed DEI Council which, in my opinion, is a big step forward toward opening our eyes to the situation, and taking active steps to make real positive change. It’s an honor to be part of such a great group of individuals who really want to make a difference!

We are a great and diverse team of very passionate advocates who have already implemented great things like our DEI policy for the region, DEI speaker series, Culture Week, Employee Panel Discussions, Cultural Ambassador Network, and much more.

I personally also see the importance of “allies” (as a DEI term) who are supportive of different aspects of diversity, those that are essential toward making an impact.  Obviously, I personally would not necessarily fall into the target group as a white middle-aged man on the DEI Council, but I value that I am able to be an ally to help steer the organization and influence my coworkers through the council, as a leader, and as a role model.

You actively helped establish and participated in Culture Teams. Can you explain the key criteria for such teams and what’s special about them? 

The first thing I learned: You can’t really change the culture only from the top. Of course, we can set policies, be role models, and measure our progress, but real change comes from those who believe they can make a difference.

We started the first culture teams more than 10 years ago, and gave them the forum to build on the concept of “What can I do to make a positive change to the culture of BSH?”  

When we changed the focus from “What can management do to make things better?” to “What can I do?”, we started to see the difference. They started all kinds of programs and discussions to focus on employee recognition, team spirit, embracing our cultural differences, and motivation.

I’m most proud to see all the different culture teams that have popped up across the region over the years which ultimately were connected through the Cultural Ambassador Network which was established as consequence of the DEI Council.

What do you think is the biggest challenge of fostering the incorporation of DEI?

While it’s tempting to jump right to the result and focus singularly on diversity as something that can be “recruited in”, sustainable change means getting at the heart of what keeps diverse teams from forming and thriving.

Everything starts with acknowledging our own intrinsic biases, unintentional micro-aggressions, non-inclusive policies, and our simple inability to think outside our own point of view.  Awareness is the first step!

The second hurdle is convincing each other that there is real benefit to exploiting our differences.  Sometimes it’s the bigger transformation that’s needed, not just the 5% year-over-year improvement.  Once you have had the chance to experience what a high performing, diverse team can accomplish, it’s hard to imagine it differently.

Do you have a special story or memory to share that comes to mind when thinking about pushing DEI at your workplace?

I had a very enlightening experience one time, leading one of my team meetings. I had just brought on a new (from outside BSH) team member, who joined for the first time. After I finished giving an update, providing direction, and asking for agreement, I quickly moved on. “Thanks for your support everyone”. Thinking, wow, that was easy.

Later, she came to me and told me. “You know what David, no one really agrees with your proposal by the way. Next time, why don’t you try counting to 7 after asking for feedback”. Well, next time, I did and I promise it was the longest 7 seconds of my life, but then the feedback came along with all the opinions and perspectives I had not considered. I was wrong. I’m glad I listened and learned.

The moral of the story: take the time to acknowledge, appreciate, and incorporate the different points of view that come from diverse backgrounds, and don’t assume everyone thinks like you!

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BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.