Melanie Kreis on "women in leadership positions"
The German act on equal participation of women and men in leadership positions in the private and public sectors has been in force since May 1, 2015. The new law affects Deutsche Post DHL Group.
Melanie Kreis, Board Member for Human Resources and Labor Director at Deutsche Post DHL Group, answers six questions pertaining to this issue:
Melanie Kreis, Board Member for Human Resources and Labor Director at Deutsche Post DHL Group
Was the law really necessary?
Kreis: Passage of the law again put the issue very much in the public eye and triggered an important discussion. However, I have my doubts whether rigid quotas required by law will really solve the problem because they do not address the root causes. Most large companies - including us - have been working for years on initiatives to increase the share of women in leadership positions.
The latest figures show that change is happening. Our share of women in leadership positions globally has increased in recent years from 17.6% to 19.3%. Obviously we are not going to be content with that; however, we also understand that progress takes time. We shall not be able to meet this challenge overnight.
What exactly does the law mean for Deutsche Post DHL Group?
Kreis: The law affects Deutsche Post AG as well as several subsidiaries in Germany. As of January 1, 2016, the Deutsche Post AG Supervisory Board must be made up of at least 30% women and 30% men. We already meet this minimum quota. In addition, companies are required to define quota targets for the board of management and the two upper management levels below it as well as set a deadline for target achievement. This applies to the Supervisory Board as well as the subsidiary management boards and the two upper management levels below them.
So is it all fairly straightforward?
Kreis: Not entirely. The law requires target quotas that do not coincide with the evaluation and reporting methods we use at Deutsche Post DHL Group. This relates to the two management levels below the Board of Management, which are known as reporting lines N-1 and N-2. For years we have evaluated our upper and middle management levels based upon the role classification system.
Therefore, in the future we shall have two types of figures. On the one hand, we shall publish the target quotas required by legislators for the affected German companies; on the other, we shall continue to communicate the global figures of Deutsche Post DHL Group based upon the role classification system. This will allow us to track how the share of women in leadership positions is developing within the entire Group.
What are the target quotas for Deutsche Post AG?
Kreis: For the initial target period to December 31, 2016, the Board of Management has defined two growth targets: 19.0% for level N-1 and 23.0% for level N-2.
What will change overall at Deutsche Post DHL Group as a result of the law?
We shall continue to do everything we can to make an informed analysis of the reasons behind the share of women in leadership positions and develop the right initiatives based upon that analysis. The share is not yet satisfactory. The issue of women in leadership positions is not new to our company. And already much has changed, especially as a result of our worldwide "women in leadership positions" project.
For example, we developed a detailed key performance indicator system with the help of a cross-divisional project group. Since then the shares of women in leadership positions are reported quarterly to the appropriate committees within the Group. We should not underestimate the attention drawn by this additional transparency. Our divisions have also developed special programs to reach out to potential female candidates for leadership roles. Furthermore, a number of test projects are underway, for example, to test part-time leadership positions. I am convinced that this wide spectrum provides an outstanding foundation to build on in the future.
What is especially important to you with regard to this issue?
Kreis: It is very important to me that "women in leadership positions" is not viewed as an isolated issue. At Deutsche Post DHL Group, we placed it in the general context of diversity management from the very beginning. I am convinced that diversity in our company is very valuable because the variety of perspectives, skills and approaches of our employees increase our creativity and innovative strength and, in turn, contribute to our company's success. With approximately 500,000 employees in 220 countries and territories, we have enormous potential - potential that we wish to fully unlock.