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Gülçin Öztürk: Diversity and the universality of emotions

Gülçin Öztürk: Diversity and the universality of emotions

Reading time for this article: 7 minutes

From the excitement of a new project to the pride after its successful implementation – colleagues at BSH are united by universal emotions despite their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Gülçin Öztürk, Head of Factory Controlling in Turkey, honors that as a value in her approach towards Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). After her colleagues nominated her as a Diversity Champion, we talked to Gülçin about the importance of embracing a positive, welcoming team spirit and about how diverse approaches towards DEI should be part of a DEI culture.

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

I am so honored and I feel excited to be a part of this nomination. It means a lot to me since it shows that I am a member of this community, a role model who supports spreading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to the whole organization.

How would you define Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? 

To me, it means working and living with people who might not think or feel and not look like you, within a respectful area and with a fair approach to each other. DEI is a culture that takes all differences (religion, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.) as a natural treasury. Variety is the spice of life.

Diversity means having a range of people with different cultural backgrounds, experiences, interests, lifestyles, ages, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, and mindset. Equity means recognizing that each person has different needs and opportunities to reach an equal outcome. Inclusion, for instance, means making people feel respected and valued as being essential to the success of the organization.

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

I love to meet new people and I strongly believe that I learn so many things from them about life, emotions, ideas, work, and the world. Each person who is different from me helps me to increase my leniency level. I believe being positive, open and having a smiling face is a common language in the world. When I say hello or good morning with a smile, I always face a smile in return and the conversation continues in a positive way even when the discussed topic is hard. Making people happy motivates me.

You have been working at BSH for almost 13 years – regarding DEI at the workplace, what did change over these years? How was the situation when you started working, how is it now? 

Organizations, working styles, expectations… Briefly, culture has changed over these years. Our communication level and network area used to be limited. After organizational changes, we have started to enlarge our network area. Today we have more and easier contact with people on each level and at each location. We focus on innovations and we become more customer-, result-, success-, and cooperation-oriented day by day. Our expectations have also changed as employees and humans. We believe that our feedback culture brings individual and team improvement and satisfaction. So, we give and take more feedback today. As I mentioned, culture has changed and is still changing, and we will say Welcome with positive energy.

What aspects of DEI are the most important for you in the position of a team leader – do you want to share your experience as a Head of different controlling departments over the years? 

I had to build a new team, increase the team spirit and support the team members over the years as an HoS of different controlling functions. After explaining the necessity of the job, priorities, and goals clearly, I try to understand the needs of each team member to reach the goal. I always try to make them feel that their individual contribution is very important for the outcome by giving opportunities according to their skills. When they see that their ideas and work are valued and supported by others, they feel like they really belong to the team. 

All of us have different mindsets but when I ensure an open communication atmosphere, we come to a common understanding and work in cooperation with respect for our differences. I like to involve the team in the business. I focus on individual personal improvements for each member of the team. I share the results with the team and show them that, when the different mindsets are combined, the result is much better. 

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

I think the biggest challenge is that we all have different mindsets and do not see the benefits of DEI in the same way. I think it is understandable since every department and everyone reacts in a different way to DEI. This is also a kind of diversity. DEI has to be an integral part of our lives and we need to be role models showing how DEI makes our lives easier and happier and emphasize how to adopt this culture.

What is particularly important when introducing new colleagues into a team? How can a team leader ensure that the individuality and identity of the new colleague is welcomed and valued? 

When introducing a new colleague, a particularly important thing is to emphasize their personal characteristics. In order to discover their talents, I set them free and observe their potential. We prepare an individual improvement plan to increase the empowerment level. I find a platform (a department meeting, monthly regular meeting with factories or global partners) to whom they present the outcome of their projects and tasks. I ensure open communication within the team and support to make the ideas come true.

Have you been part of specific DEI activities or do you wish to join specific initiatives? If so, which ones? 

I have joined the ‘’Diversity-Inclusive Leadership Culture’’ training and it made me think about how we use diversity to have more creative ideas in order to achieve our targets. Listening to people, respecting everyone’s ideas and being a positive and humble person are some of the necessary items to advance our DEI approach in the organization.

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

I have the chance to work with German and African colleagues for some new product projects. Additionally, I collaborated with Indian and Russian colleagues. Although our professions, languages and English accents are different and we have different cultural backgrounds, we have worked together in a very positive atmosphere. At the beginning of the new project, everyone feels excited; when the actual status is far away from target, everyone feels stress; when creative ideas come and innovations come true, everyone feels happy; when the project is finished successfully, everyone is proud of it and feels awesome. After all these experiences, I realized that we are not as different as we think. Emotions are common for everyone. We just need respect and love for each other.

For those who want to engage more with a diverse environment and to actively foster DEI at the workplace – do you have any tips, what can be a good first initiative for the beginning of a DEI journey?

We need to increase the empowerment level in every department. Rotations between departments or countries for a certain period can be done. We as BSH are so lucky because we have a very high level of diversity and we can use it even more to achieve our targets.

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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.