Interview with Bayer's Dr. Hartmut Klusik "We Take Diversity And Inclusion Very Seriously”

Jul 30, 2019 2:45 PM ET

Respecting and promoting diversity among employees has long been one of Bayer's goals – and was also very important to Monsanto. In this interview Head of Human Resources at Bayer, Dr. Hartmut Klusik, talks about the active LGBTI community at Bayer and the company's inclusive culture.

Dr. Klusik, how do you personally view Bayer’s public support for LGBTIQ+ – at CSD events, for example?
It’s a very deliberate decision also to demonstrate to the outside world that we at Bayer foster an open, inclusive corporate culture. I particularly like the slogan our BLEND community has come up with for this – “Bayer: Respecting your right to be you.” It perfectly encapsulates the principles of our corporate and leadership culture. Our presence at CSD and other public events is also intended to show potential new recruits that absolutely everyone is welcome at Bayer – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s not without reason that we’re regularly confirmed as one of Germany’s most popular employers by surveys such as the one in news magazine Focus. And that applies not only to the concerns focused on by BLEND that we’re discussing today, but also to all other aspects of diversity and inclusion. The colorful rainbow flag isn’t our only motivation. At the end of the day, it’s good for business, too. Embracing diversity and inclusion benefits our employees and the company in equal measure – something we’re keen to publicize.

Is there a particular personal experience that has made you identify more closely with this issue?
No, nothing in particular. I sometimes didn’t have a clue to start with whether the many colleagues and friends I’ve met over the years were homosexual, heterosexual or something else – because it makes no difference to me. It became an issue for me professionally speaking when I was appointed Labor Director at Bayer. The reason I have such a lot to do with this issue now is because it really is a fundamental part of my job – and we take our commitment to diversity and inclusion very seriously.

Was there a specific point at which the Board of Management decided to focus on diversity?
It was the workforce that provided the impetus to found BLEND. The “rainbow group” formed at the company’s Berlin site some 20 years ago was soon copied and supported at the other sites in Germany. The predecessor of BLEND at several sites in the United States was the ANGLE-B community, which also started out many years ago. As a global organization, however, we naturally didn’t accept any kind of discrimination prior to this either – whether based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other characteristics.

On the subject of the United States, the acquisition of Monsanto attracted a great deal of media attention. What is less widely known is that Monsanto won the Human Rights Campaign’s award for the most LGBTIQ+-friendly employer in the year of the takeover. Has the acquisition therefore also given Bayer a better understanding of this issue?
There is indeed too little public recognition of the fact that Monsanto was a good and respected employer in the United States. Its management team made diversity and inclusion a top priority. That’s why we very deliberately put our American colleague Melissa Harper in charge of Talent & Inclusion at Bayer worldwide – a role she previously held at Monsanto – because we’re keen to transfer Monsanto’s high standards in this area to the entire Bayer Group and work hard to make further progress with this important issue.

The interview first appeared in the May issue of the LGBTI magazine "Blu".
Authors: Sebastian Ahlefeld / Christian Knuth // Editors: Christian Knuth / Michael Rädel