Interview: Diversity management at Bosch

Trix Boehne

Trix Boehne >


Five questions for Heidi Stock, Vice President, Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Robert Bosch GmbH

How does Bosch define diversity?

Stock: “For us, diversity means the possibilities that arise from the wide range of differences as well as similarities of the company’s associates around the world. We embrace the broad range of mentalities, experience, perspectives, and lifestyles that our associates bring to the table, and use it to secure the company’s long-term success. Diversity is our advantage! All Bosch associates benefit from this – and the company does too.”

Why is diversity so important for Bosch?

Stock: “Bosch relies on the expertise of its highly-qualified associates. As a global supplier of technology and services, our business success depends on our innovative strength. After all, our associates are the ones who develop, manufacture, and market technology that is “Invented for life,” helping to improve the quality of many people’s lives in the process. Mixed teams are important for us: often, such teams achieve better results and develop superior solutions. Diverse points of view provide important stimuli for new ideas and approaches. At the same time, we embrace differences. This helps us work better with each other, and serves as a source of motivation as well. This improves collaboration and contributes to the success of our business.”

How important is diversity within the company?

Stock: “Our company founder Robert Bosch placed a great deal of importance on cultural diversity at a very early stage. Today, diversity is firmly anchored in our corporate strategy. Often, diversity focuses solely on how men and women work together. But our approach goes well beyond that, encompassing a number of additional relevant criteria such as age, nationality, marital status, and place of work. With our multi-layered diversity management activities, we ensure that all associates around the world feel appreciated and deliberately deploy the potential that results from their uniqueness. And when you consider that some two-thirds of our associates work outside Germany, and that Bosch generates about four-fifths of its sales outside Germany, this is all the more important.”

What has working culture got to do with diversity strategy?

Stock: “A lot. Each associate has their own career goals, lifestyles, and personal aspirations. Moreover, personal and professional priorities change over the course of people’s lives. However, our associates should not have to choose one at the expense of the other. For instance, our flexible work-time models can help meet the shifting needs in different countries, cultures, and company units. At the start of their careers, some of our colleagues may want more time to pursue their personal interests, while others may want more time for their families. Taking care of loved ones also depends on the possibility to plan a career flexibly. Everyone should have the opportunity to make the best contribution to the company they can in each of these life phases.”

How commonplace has diversity become at Bosch?

Stock: “The figures alone clearly demonstrate just how diverse Bosch is. Our global workforce includes people of 150 nationalities. More than 25 percent of our associates are women − and this despite Bosch being a technology company in which 80 percent of all jobs are STEM-related. One good example is the project in which Bosch is developing technologies for automated driving. We are testing them in Germany, in California, in Japan, and also in China. The aim is to test highly automated vehicles in everyday driving situations. When the project started, two cars were turned into test vehicles at two locations: Abstatt in Germany, and Palo Alto in California. The project team initially included mainly German, U.S., and Indian associates. One of the two sub-project managers, a German, worked in the United States, and the other was located in Germany. A woman engineer from Spain was the technical project manager. And both young and experienced people worked on this challenging task. Collaboration like this happens every day at Bosch − it shows how working across national and cultural boundaries has become a matter of course at the company.”

About Bosch

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 410,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2018). The company generated sales of 78.5 billion euros in 2018. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 460 subsidiary and regional companies in over 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At nearly 130 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 68,700 associates in research and development.

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant upfront investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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