The Variety of Diversity

Our Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy is aimed at reflecting our markets and products through a diverse workforce. Our markets and products are diverse – and so are our people.  As our markets are multifaceted and diverse, we take a holistic approach and embrace all aspects of diversity, with a special focus on the dimensions of gender, age/seniority and nationality/culture. All other dimensions of diversity are handled on an individual basis as required.

The goal of our Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy is to build ONE global team within the framework of a corporate culture of openness and appreciation.

Gender Diversity: The best teams comprised of women and men!

The call for women in leadership positions is loud and sustained. The echo of political discussion with respect to a fixed or variable female quota in Germany and other countries of the EU has also reached Henkel’s ears. Our viewpoint is unequivocal: Henkel is against a fixed female quota. For us, the rule reads: Irrespective of gender, everyone is assessed and promoted based exclusively on their performance and their potential. Nevertheless, we do recognize the necessity of increasing the percentage of women in leadership positions.

Women mean economic growth 

  • Globally, women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb to as high as $28 trillion in the next five years.
    (Silverstein, Michael J./Sayre, Kate, The Female Economy, in: Harvard Business Review (9/2009), 46-53)
  • On aggregate, women represent a growth market greater than China and India combined – more than twice as big, in fact.
    (Silverstein, Michael J./Sayre, Kate, The Female Economy, in: Harvard Business Review (9/2009), 46-53)
  • Women make the main buy decisions for 94% of furniture and fittings…92% of holidays…91% of home purchases…60% of automobile purchases…51% of entertainment electronic purchases.
    (Silverstein, Michael J./Sayre, Kate, The Female Economy, in: Harvard Business Review (9/2009), 46-53)
  • At 59%, more women than men obtain university degrees or the equivalent.
    (EUROSTAT, The Life of Women and Men in Europe: A Statistical Portrait (2008), 35)

There are many good reasons for appointing more women to leadership positions.
And – something that is possibly even more important – there are no good reasons against.

For a large proportion of our cosmetics products, our laundry and home care products and our consumer adhesives, women count among the direct or indirect target user group. In order to meet their needs and requirements, it is important for us to reflect this audience within the employee structure of Henkel.

Since the introduction of strategic Diversity management at Henkel, the proportion of women in leadership positions has increased: from 24.5 percent in 2006 to around 29.5 percent by the end of 2011.

Cultural Diversity

Globalization and Growth Markets   

  • In 2010, China overtook Germany for the first time as the world champion of exports.
    (o.V., Exportweltmeister: China schlägt Deutschland, in: manager magazin online, on the internet:,2828,671071,00.html, retrieved March 18, 2011)
  • 1.2 million Asians obtained a degree back in 2003. That is more than the total of degrees gained in the USA and Europe together.
    (Friedman, Thomas L., The World is Flat. The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century, London etc. (Penguin) 2006, 344.)
  • 42% of Henkel’s sales is generated in the emerging markets; 54% of Henkel’s employees work for Henkel in these growth markets.
  • The globalization of markets, according to a study published by the ETH, Zurich, has grown significantly in the last 20 years.
    (Dreher, Axel, KOF. Index of Globalization, ETH Zürich (2010), on the internet:, retrieved March 18, 2011)

There is hardly an issue which is so intensively and controversially discussed as that of globalization. Some link it to a nurturing of cultures, world economic growth and unprecedented development opportunities. Others fear the dominance of the economy, the loss of regional diversity, over-exploitation leading to ecological destruction, and an ever-widening gulf between rich and poor.

Henkel and its brands are also operating on an increasingly global scale. In 2011, Henkel generated around 42 percent of its sales in the emerging markets. More than half of our employees (54 percent) now work outside the traditional, mature and now largely saturated markets. Thus Henkel can rightly regard itself as a global player.

Henkel’s diversity management approach follows the principle of market reflection and legitimization. As the importance of these growth markets increases, so does that of employees who originate from the countries and regions concerned.

Hence, there is a great deal of potential in the increasing globalization of Henkel – potential for growth, but also potential for conflict, hence the multi-cultural mixing of employees of different origins and with different mores and customs requires openness, mutual understanding and a great deal of intercultural sensitivity.
Intercultural Training
We offer various intercultural training courses aimed at diminishing the potential for conflict while also increasing team spirit and efficiency. Prior to a stay abroad, for example, employees are – by way of preparation – instructed on the typical customs of the country and also the linguistic challenges likely to face them during their sojourn.
International Week
During the 2010 World Cup soccer championship, international colleagues celebrated an International Week in the canteens of the Düsseldorf-Holthausen site. On each day of the week leading up to the final, non-German employees provided their colleagues with a taste of their home country in the form of typical clothing, costumes, items of interest and culinary specialties. This gave many employees an excellent opportunity to overcome their differences and move a little closer.

Age Diversity: Generation Y meets the Baby Boomers

  • The EU-27 population aged between 20 and 59 will decrease dramatically after 2014.
    (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Demographic Work and Change in Europe (2010), 9)
  • The whole world is aging: today, the world average age lies at 29.1. By 2030, the average age will be 34.2, and by 2050 it will have risen to 38.4.
    (United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects, on the internet:, retrieved March 18, 2011)
  • In 2010, the over-50-year-olds were responsible for more than half of all consumer spending in Germany.
    (Gesellschaft für Konsumgüterforschung, Generation 50plus fühlt sich von Wirtschaft und Politik nicht genügend geschätzt, on the internet:, retrieved March 18, 2011)

The world is getting older and older. The process of demographic change is inexorable. In 2050, the average age of the global population will already be at 38.4, approximately 9 years above the current average age of 29.1.

Consequently, for some time now economists and politicians have been increasingly concerned with demographic change and the aging of our society – and with good cause: the over-50-year-olds already account for half of all consumer spending in Germany.

For Henkel too, demographic change and the aging society bring a mixture of consequences: on the one hand, these phenomena are opening up new consumer potential with the 50-plus age group; on the other hand, it means increasing the focus on maintaining the working capacity and life-long learning capability of employees while also avoiding potential conflicts between the generations.

From Baby Boomers through Generations X and Y to the coming working Generation Z, all levels are represented within Henkel’s employee structure. Every generation has its own preferences and attitudes with respect to work times, work volumes and work locations.

Since 2009, therefore, a cross-generation mentoring program has been available in Belgium to help communication across the age boundaries. And it has been most successful – because getting to know one another invariably means learning to appreciate and understand one another.

Latest news and recent discussions about Diversity issues can be found on our blog.

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