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Out and proud – creating visibility for LGBTQI+ colleagues

Out and proud – creating visibility for LGBTQI+ colleagues

Reading time for this article: 5 minutes

Marc Hantscher, BSH’s Executive Vice President, Head of Global OEM, was recently nominated as PROUT Executive at the PROUT AT WORK-Foundation. In an interview, we asked Hantscher to share his insights about the situation of LGBTQI+ employees, and about the impact good team leadership can have in fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.

What does the nomination mean for you?

Being nominated as a proud and out senior executive is a huge sign for me personally. As executives, we must show everyone around us that it’s ok and important to be out for everyone to see. We serve as role models, and as such the nomination to me means “It’s ok to be out – join us!”

Why are initiatives like that (the work of the foundation, the nominations, etc.) important?

We need to drive awareness for the lives of LGBTQI+ people, through communication, workshops, and by creating networks. Every one of us in the community needs anchor points which to relate to and to exchange ideas, challenges, and solutions. PROUT AT WORK plays an important role in this by providing a platform to network and drive awareness across companies, just like the initiative Colors of BSH provides the same platform inside of BSH.

Do you want to share your experience with being out at the working place?

My experiences have been largely positive. I came out at BSH several years ago, and BSH has been very supportive to my partner and me during the development of both of our careers. We spent a lot of time in Asia where being gay and out is certainly not as easy as it is for the two of us here. And BSH has helped us to live our life as a couple while balancing our careers and my work for BSH. I live my life openly and treat being gay as a normal part of myself. I talk about my family at work just like straight people would talk about their own family. I have never met much resistance where I was out, however, that does not mean of course that there are no issues left. Some concerns probably remain silent because people do not want to say anything in a personal conversation, or because some of our colleagues live in countries where being out is very difficult.

You have been working for BSH for over 17 years now. What changes concerning diversity and inclusion did you experience? What were the essential developments from your perspective?

That’s an interesting question! When I joined BSH, the company felt very much like a traditional German enterprise. Everyone spoke German, the typical senior manager was white, male (and straight?) and over 50, and diversity was not on the agenda at all. Since then, we have moved on to a board with 50% female leaders, we have international colleagues in the top management of the company, and we take diversity seriously as a key success factor going forward, led from the top. Of course, we still have much more to do, but hey, achieving diversity is a process to drive over time, and taking everyone along, in all regions around the world, takes time.

One of the values of BSH is to create diverse and inclusive teams – how do sexual orientation and gender identity play into that?

I run a very diverse organization at BSH myself, with LGBTQI+ people on some teams as well as a good mix of women and men, different ages and educational backgrounds, and nationalities. Diverse teams can feel more difficult to work in at the beginning because there can be lots of misunderstandings and (intercultural) conflicts. But I am fully convinced that they produce better results in the long run – by bringing together a much broader scope of perspectives and by fostering an open culture.

What can team leaders and executives do for LGBTQ+ colleagues to create a safe and fostering work environment?

Very simple: create an environment in which everybody can bring their true self to work, in all aspects. Encourage openness, support initiatives that drive diversity, and pay attention to having a good mix of different people on the team. Be open about yourself and encourage others to do the same.

We already introduced BSH’s LGBT+ network “Colors of BSH”. Grassroot initiatives can be crucial to establishing open-minded and inclusive teams. In your opinion, what role do employee networks play in the overall corporate culture?

Networks such as Colors of BSH are important to develop self-awareness and make people realize that there are others in similar situations. They also provide great opportunities to get access to areas in the business that you would usually not be part of in your daily work, and thereby provide a better understanding of the overall business. Networks can also promote more loyalty as you are part of another way of relating to BSH than just your immediate work environment. Last but not least: you can find more friends by being part of a network!

As a global company, we’d always like to learn from different cultures – and we hope that you want to share your insights since you have been working all over the globe. What was your experience as a queer person at the working place in different countries?

The situation of LGBTQI+ people around the world is very varied: in some countries, it is quite normal to be out, in others, LGBTQI+ people are still subject to huge discrimination and live in the closet. I have lived in China, India, Singapore, France, the US, and other countries during my career, and have had varied experiences. In some countries, I have felt it to be difficult to be out in the same way as I am now. Sometimes not everyone around knew about me. Overall, that has made me feel being uncomfortable in some places, even if I was out to a few selected people.

Surely, there are people in the corporate world who feel that it is not safe for them to come out or who want to come out but have lots of doubts about that – is there something you would like to say to them? Some piece of advice, maybe?

That’s a very difficult question that demands individual answers, particularly for people from countries in which being out is still a problem, or maybe even illegal. My experience has been that being completely open (instead of just selectively) is the way that makes me most comfortable and least prone to discrimination. However, if you are in an environment where institutional discrimination is the norm it is very hard to be out. When you face the risk of getting assaulted, be verbally discriminated against, part with your family, or even face penalties it is a very difficult personal question for LGBTQI+ people how to deal with this.

Is there anything you want to share with people who think about supporting the LGBTQI+ community and don’t know where to start? Any tips?

Please join us! LGBTQI+ initiatives need allies outside of our own networks to succeed. Going to an event or checking out the contacts of corporate initiatives like Colors of BSH can be a starting point. We have been joined by colleagues who say for example “I am not gay, but my son is, and I want to be in”. I am all the happier that at BSH we have with Carla Kriwet a supportive CEO who has also been nominated to the LGBTQI+ ally list of PROUT AT WORK.


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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.