The transformative power of diversity and inclusion

From the natural ecosystems we inhabit to our linguistic and cultural richness, our lives are imbued with diversity. Within business environments, diversity in skills, opinions, and backgrounds has been proven to enhance innovation, cohesion, and quality of work. However, diversity and inclusion (D&I) can also play an important role in recovery and resilience. COVID-19 has emphasized how dependent companies are on the diverse skills and perspectives people bring, underscoring the need for businesses to value and protect their employees. 

Balancing the ESG

The pandemic brought plenty of challenges, but it also offered some valuable lessons, unveiling just how important resilient communities and organizations are for a sustainable society. Absorbing future shocks that stem from environmental and social challenges will be the imperative for both businesses and governments. 

Recognizing the value and importance of diversity and inclusion can be challenging in times of crises, but it is exactly this understanding that helps companies achieve their targets, maintain strong organizational health, and help co-create a socially resilient society.

Workplaces for the future

Looking beyond the business case for diversity and inclusion, there are many reasons why both diversity and inclusion should be at the top of a company’s agenda. Edelman’s Trust Barometers 2021 and 2022, also show what belief-driven employees have come to expect from their employers: workplaces that match their values, have a social impact, foster diversity, promote inclusion in ways that makes employees feel safe and valued. Cultivating such a workplace environment requires proactive leadership, adaptability, and a continuous dialogue between all stakeholders.

At Allianz, this understanding has already been adopted by the top management, with more than 20 CEOs and Board Members from Allianz entities around the globe being part of the company’s Global Inclusion Council, which discusses implementation, shares best practices, and knowledge.

The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has been recognized globally as well. As of recently, Allianz’s insurance business has been globally dummy EDGE Assess Certified. We have ranked dummy #1 in the German Diversity Index , improving from last year’s already very good second place. In 2021, Allianz was placed #5 in the prestigious dummy Refinitiv D&I Index, and was also listed in the dummy Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the 7th consecutive year. Allianz Germany has also been awarded rank #1 in the dummy Uhlala Pride Index 2021. Equally, many other local entities have received external recognition, like Allianz Australia (dummy Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program 2021 awarded by the Australian HR Awards); Allianz France (rank #4 by Mixity among large private companies); Allianz Italy (dummy Best Employers for Women 2021 by Istituto Qualita); Allianz Life (dummy FORTUNE 100 Best Large Workplaces for Millennials 2021); Allianz Technology / Allianz Services India (Diversity & Inclusion Company of the Year 2021 awarded by Transformance Forums); Allianz UK
(The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers 2021).

Matters of representation

In order for employees to feel fully seen, heard, and engaged, Allianz has set ambitious targets for itself that cover all D&I dimensions by the end of 2024. In terms of gender representation, the company aims to have 30 percent of women on the Allianz SE Supervisory Board and Board of Management as well as in the top senior management globally, and 50 percent of women in talent pools. 

Similarly, the company aims to have at least two different nationalities or ethnicities represented in all Boards of Management. Allianz also wants to ensure a diverse generational representation by having more than 25 percent of workforce under 35 years of age in all entities. In addition, the company aims to reach 80 percent of its global workforce with access to local LGBTQ+ employee networks and other employee support groups.

The company is also a member of dummy The Valuable 500, an organization that aims to put disability on the business leadership agenda. To underline its commitment, the company has set up Allianz Beyond, its global employee network for disability inclusion.

Renate Wagner is a member of the Board of Managment of Allianz SE
- Renate  Wagner, Member of the Board of Management, Allianz SE
“At Allianz, we can only understand and serve our customers if we reflect their diversity in our workforce,” says Renate Wagner , Member of the Board of Management of Allianz SE and responsible for HR. “We are committed to creating an inclusive environment where people feel they belong and can succeed, regardless of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation, to name a few. I am proud that we have set clear goals to make Allianz a truly inclusive workplace, complemented by transparent communication, passion, dedication, as well as strong management commitment.”

Diversity needs inclusion

Building a healthy workplace environment that can create a vibrant community requires more than just representation and numbers—it requires a sense of belonging. This means that a truly diverse environment is one where employees feel included, safe, and valued. A Harvard business review showed that a high sense of belonging is linked to a 56 percent rise in job performance, a 75 percent drop in sick days, and a 50 percent decrease in turnover risk. This points toward the fact that inclusion is closely linked to employee engagement, which, in turn, is also a critical component of employee retention, productivity, and financial performance. 

It all comes down to the company’s culture, which is why Allianz is fostering and helping develop employee networks where inclusive culture is lived and shaped. The company currently has five global networks that help shape the company’s D&I agenda and advocate for change, each focused on a key priority: 

  • Allianz Beyond – disability inclusion
  • Allianz NEO – gender inclusion 
  • Allianz Pride – LGBTQ+ inclusion 
  • Allianz Engage – generational inclusion 
  • Allianz GRACE – ethnicity and cultural inclusion.

In 2021, the number of local employee networks grew from 15 to more than 50 around the Allianz Group—from Australia to Europe, India, and the U.S.

Allianz Beyond: Removing barriers, for the benefit of all

Every individual has special abilities and skills, irrespective of possible disabilities. Allianz Beyond, the company’s disability inclusion employee network knows how important it is to have a workplace tailored to each employee’s individual needs, including flexible working hours, special equipment, or personal mentorship. The network aims to raise awareness on the topic of disability, find ways to make workplaces free of barriers, create a safe space for employees to disclose their disability and ask for what they need to perform at their best.
- Christoph Wendlandt, Lead of the Global Allianz Beyond Board
“Allianz Beyond is a global network that cares for disability inclusion. Through Allianz Beyond we want to create a work environment free of barriers—physical, technological, or social—where employees with disabilities can succeed. Focusing on what people can do and by engaging allies to the cause, we work to help remove stigmas and taboos through education. We address disability inclusion throughout the value chain, foster accessibility and connection,” says Christoph Wendlandt, Lead of the Global Allianz Beyond Board.

Allianz NEO: Networking – Engagement – Opportunities

Allianz NEO is a global employee network that looks at gender balance, equality, and inclusion. It evolved from local women’s networks to a global Allianz community. The NEO network is a valuable resource for Allianz to help find concrete improvement opportunities, create dialog and allyship, and communicate about important topics like gender stereotypes, health and wellbeing, resources, and mentoring.
- Justine Gerads, Lead of the Global Allianz NEO Board
“Gender equality is a topic that will always be close to my heart as it directly impacts my own work environment, relationships, and career opportunities. Our networks provide an invaluable forum for raising awareness, supporting one another, and making gender equality part of who we are as a company so that all genders can unfold their full potential,” says Justine Gerads, Lead of the Global Allianz NEO Board.

Allianz Pride: Being LGBTQ+ at Allianz

At Allianz, the Allianz Pride employee network encourages a corporate culture that values all employees, independent of their gender expression and sexual orientation and creates a working environment free from discrimination. The network aims to provide a platform for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their supporters within Allianz, raise awareness, promote mutual respect, establish a network of experts for all LGBTQ+ issues.
- Marie-Helene Tyack, Lead of the Global Allianz Pride Board
“We need to be able to bring our whole selves to work and not pretend to be someone we are not. At Allianz, we are lucky to have many Pride networks that work together to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and our allies—these networks are also a platform for raising awareness and increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility, both internally and externally, making Allianz an employer of choice for applicants from the whole spectrum of diversity,” said Marie-Helene Tyack, Lead of the Global Allianz Pride Board. 

Allianz Engage: Engaging across ages and life stages

Age diversity enables employees of different ages to collaborate, share knowledge, and support each other in complementary ways. With Allianz’s age-diverse employee base, the voices of the different generations must play a pivotal role in how the company moves forward. Through Allianz Engage, employees can proactively contribute to a company culture where the knowledge of all generations is called upon and people can continue to thrive throughout the different stages of their life.
- Amanda Bristow, Lead of the Global Allianz Engage Board
“Today’s business environment is more diverse than ever before when it comes to age. With Allianz Engage, we are committed to creating an environment that embraces and promotes the value people of different ages and at different life stages bring to ensure that nobody experiences exclusion based on their date of birth. Whether you are the youngest or the oldest in the room, just starting out or with many years of experience, everyone has something to give,” added Amanda Bristow, Lead of the Global Allianz Engage Board.

Allianz GRACE: Global Race and Cultural Ethnicity (GRACE) network

The Allianz GRACE employee network provides a platform across the Group to connect and exchange the learnings and insights needed to foster a work environment inclusive for all, independent of race, cultural ethnicity, or nationality. This employee-driven collaboration focuses on continuous education and dialogue on what it means to work across cultures, fostering an environment that attracts and retains talents from all races, supporting the company’s positioning against racial inequalities, and proactively contributing to a workplace free of any forms of discrimination.
- Redeat Gashu, Lead of the Global Allianz Grace Board
“As a person of color living in Germany, it is rather easy to stand out from a room full of people. The feeling of belonging and inclusivity is very important in all aspects of life. With Allianz GRACE, we want to create a platform where we can tackle racial inequalities. We will ensure a sustained environment of equity and inclusion to disadvantaged communities, as well as celebrate the vast diversity of cultures that exist within this organization,” says Redeat Gashu, Lead of the Global Allianz GRACE Board.

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To expand their capacities for innovation and strengthen resilience, companies must strive to create a culture where employees feel valued, included, and safe to express themselves freely. Once different voices are represented, different perspectives can emerge, giving way to new ideas and new sources of knowledge. Allianz has recognized the necessity of a culture that supports diversity and inclusion because such culture creates a sustainable workplace, one that’s equipped to grow, absorb future shocks, and help co-create a more equal society. 
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The transformative power of diversity and inclusion

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