This article was published for The Economist Group. We have published an excerpt here.
MUNICH, Germany – It’s been a busy year for Albert Kehrer. Besides running a consulting firm, he has been spending most of his time on a matter long neglected by German business: LGBT rights at work. Mr Kehrer is co-founder of a German non-profit, PROUT AT WORK. Since 2013, he has recruited to his programme a growing number of firms, including giants such as Adidas, SAP, Deutsche Bank and T-Mobile, signalling the start of a significant shift in German corporate attitudes towards LGBT employees.
Germany boasts many prominent openly gay people in its politics and cultural life, from former minister of foreign affairs Guido Westerwelle to television host Anne Will. None of the 190 current members of the executive boards of Germany’s stock-listed companies is openly gay, though one recently came out after leaving office. Corporate Germany has traditionally preferred its LGBT people to remain closeted. According to a recent study, one in four German LGBT employees think their sexual orientation has a decidedly negative effect on their career prospects. Forty-four percent regard their sexual identity as a natural part of their personality and working life – a proportion that surely should be far higher. Only in the very largest firms, with at least 50,000 employees, does a majority of the workforce say they know of any LGBT person in the company leadership. Read more.