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Sima Dor-Hay: Building bridges in diverse work environments

Sima Dor-Hay: Building bridges in diverse work environments

Reading time: 5 minutes

One person cannot be missing from the “Nominate Your Diversity Champion” campaign: Sima Dor-Hay. As a member of BSH’s Diversity Core Team, she actively fosters Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (short: DEI) in her daily work and knows how much we can learn from the perspective of others. Being an empathetic person, Sima’s strengths are to walk in someone else’s shoes, feeling what others feel and building bridges to unite people. In the interview, she also shares the power of diversity and how everyone of us can promote DEI.

1.     How do you feel about being nominated as Diversity Champion and what does it mean to you?
First of all, I feel honored and humble. It's nice and I'm grateful that my actions had an impact on those who nominated me. What it means to me is that someone else has noticed my way of standing up for it, supporting, encouraging and advocating for people. 

2.     How would you define Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)? 
Oh, that is a very broad topic. The deeper I go, I find also new perspectives about what DEI is. The first word that comes to my mind is welcoming. Diversity is not just about gender, ethnicity, or age but it is also about mindset, personality, life experiences, etc. It will be wonderful once we all start accepting the fact that we are unique with different needs and embrace the will to look at things from more than one perspective. It is also about values that I hold such as fairness and justice.

3.     Do you want to share your personal motivation for pushing DEI at your workplace? 
I think that one of my strengths is the willingness and ability to walk in someone else's shoes. To try and see things from the perspective of others, and to know that my view on things is only mine. This allows me to be a kind of a "bridge" or a "connector" and I find so much meaning in that. If we are meant to find a purpose in what we do, this would be my purpose. Through pushing and living DEI, we are able to connect to each other in new ways and I'm happy to be the bridge for that.

4.     In your role in the REU competence team, you have a lot of touching points with DEI. Can you explain how DEI influences your work and how you incorporate DEI there? 
Let's take my team as an example. After the HR transformation, our team has changed: new members joined, bringing new perspectives, skills, competencies, experiences, and different ways of looking at BSH as an organization. What I can see is an opportunity to influence and contribute with my experience and my openness to share my views and at the same time, I can learn so much from the perspectives of others, from the diversity of our team.

If we take e.g. the Region Europe (short: REU) – which is such a diverse region – then again, what we are trying, and I would say also succeed, is to create a community of HR leaders and experts. And we insist on referring to ourselves as the REU HR community. The region is so diverse - the needs of the countries are different, the interests are not always the same – but we have the few things in common – we are all human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. We find a lot of power in being diverse – and from this place, we can find a lot of solutions to work for the same goals together. And sometimes we see things different and that is fine too.

5.     You’re also an active member of BSH’s Diversity Core Team. Can you tell us a bit more about this? 
The DEI Core Team looks on DEI from a broader perspective. We are looking at how BSH can shape and drive DEI – e.g. what kind of activities will get us to the targets set by the Board of Management and other areas. I really like our discussions in the team. We have very devoted team members, you can feel the sense of commitment, passion and engagement. We are having deep discussions, but sometimes we also struggle, because it feels like there are still many challenges surrounding us. 

6.     What do you think is the biggest challenge of fostering the incorporation of DEI? 
As I said previously, it seems to me that there is still a gap from how DEI is being perceived as a topic – an important topic – to how much real and genuine attention is given to it, so all of us can actually live DEI every day rather than talk about it. For example, language barriers are sometimes still an issue. A first and basic step to inclusivity would be to make sure that all employees can understand globally relevant information since not all speak English. It might look minor, but that’s exactly the way to make sure no employee feels excluded.

7.     You are also involved in DEI activities specifically for young women and girls. Personally, what do you think is the most important advice you would give them regarding their future work life? 
Recently, I participated in the "Girls’ Week" in Israel. I met a class of teenagers and told them my story. Research shows that girls at the age of 12-13 experience a 30% drop in their self-confidence and self-esteem. And this has a high impact on their future. So yes, it's very important for me to be the one telling them - that they can be whatever they want to be. I wish I had someone telling me "you can be whatever you want to be, Sima, don’t hold yourself back," when I was a child. 

8.     When you think about the future, do you have a “goal” in mind for DEI at the workplace? What do you personally wish for?
Like every other thing, DEI starts at the top and goes down through management levels to create meaningful change at work, especially for the groups who are traditionally underrepresented. BSH employs around 62,000 employees and ca. 31% of them are female. A (male) HR colleague said to me that we had enough coffee & cake meetings talking about DEI; we want to see concrete actions. And I cannot agree more. As I see it, it's important to find ways for female leaders to be more represented, to have a voice and a place where decisions are taken. We have started moving in this direction looking into the hiring process, developing a reward framework, tracking diversity KPIs. But we have a to keep DEI in the strategic discussions, to work on talent management, talent pipe line, encourage parental leave etc.

What I personally wish for is to live in a time when it won't matter if you are a woman, if you are over 50, if you are sitting in a wheelchair, if you are from a certain ethnic group or religion and what your sexual orientation or identification is. None of this will matter and people will be accepted for who they really are. For this to happen, we need to work on education at a young age, on our biases, on our mindset. Unfortunately, I feel that the world globally is not moving forward in that sense, rather stepping back. I can see and feel it in Israel, but also in other countries. It means that we have a lot of work to do.   

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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.