#AskScout24: Sabine Würkner on Diversity and Inclusion at Scout24
Introducing into this role is Sabine Würkner. Sabine has been a Scout for many years, and returned to the company at the beginning of 2020 to take on a new role as Principal of Diversity & Inclusion Management after the birth of her second child. This role is not only a new direction for her, but also a newly created position to the company, as Scout24 aims to strengthen the implementation of Diversity & Inclusion across the business.
With our annual Diversity Day event last month (fully online this year), we were lucky to have a moment with Sabine in her busy schedule to hear about her journey and learn why Diversity & Inclusion is important to her – and for our teams at Scout24.
Hi Sabine, Thanks for your time! To get started, could you please introduce yourself and share some insights into your career journey so far?
Sabine: I’m Sabine Würkner, a Rhinelander at heart, and a geographer – as this is such a broad subject and I can get enthusiastic about many things – and also a mum of two children. That’s why I spend a lot of time outside or building huge Lego constructions!
I love the digital world and technology: I tested the first navigation devices during my studies at the University of Bonn, and completed research on online career networks at the Center of Organizational Innovation at Columbia University (as a visiting scholar). Then I built an online community at the career network e-fellows.net, launched a dating portal at eDarling, and have been working at ImmoScout24 for seven years now.
At ImmoScout24, I was initially responsible for the private customer business and later for the area of property developers and house construction as Head of Product Marketing. Just back from my second parental leave, I have now taken on the wonderful challenge of Diversity & Inclusion Management. Since making the transition, it was fantastic to experience such a huge wave of positive energy from my colleagues from the start.
What is the focus of your role?
Sabine: At Scout24, we constantly ask ourselves how we can master the challenges of the real estate market for everyone, using smart technical and data-driven solutions. This can only be done with the best people – and those are not all white and male. That’s why we want all teams and levels to be as diverse as possible. The biggest challenge, though, is to get the right mindset into people’s heads and hearts. Diverse teams are nice, but if all colleagues are not fully appreciated for who they are and how they work – perhaps in a completely different way – then nobody feels good, and sooner or later, will be happily working for another company instead.
And in doing this, what are your goals you wish to achieve?
Sabine: Firstly, we want to focus on gender diversity, because it affects half of the people. The central question we are asking ourselves is what Scout24 must be like as an employer in order to recruit more smart women and inspire them in the long term. We must therefore offer attractive career paths.
That said, we must also create a culture, and structures, that enable women to reconcile family and an ambitious career. This ranges from childcare support, flexible work models and working hours to a general appreciation of the challenging situation. At the same time, we don’t want to forget the dads and encourage them to get involved in childcare and the household just like mum – because that helps a lot more than home office, for example.
What about diversity & inclusion is particularly important to you?
Sabine: I would say, inclusion, and at the same time, the expectation of the managers! I myself have built up many teams and led them through challenging times in business and through change processes. I have always asked myself (and questioned) what leadership means to me, what values I want to live by in my team, and how we deal with each other. This often happens on a small scale, in everyday life: how do we talk to each other, how do we solve team conflicts, how do we lift our spirits in hard times. My team is like a second family – a company is more than a revenue generator, so for it to work, it needs to be an important social support. Entrepreneurs and managers must never forget that!
I am absolutely convinced that people can only give their best if they are allowed to be who they are and if they are doing well both at work and at home. So employers and supervisors must also take some care of their employees’ private lives. For me, this is true leadership and modern entrepreneurship: this is especially crucial in times when we have to deal with climate change, the shift to the more right-wing side in society, post-growth capitalism and, currently, the immense corona crisis in a solution-oriented manner.
Despite the current coronavirus situation, Scout24 recently held a Diversity Day (May 26) online. Could you tell us a little bit about the day and what you had hoped to achieve with this?
Sabine: The German Diversity Day is an initiative by Charta der Vielfalt (charter of diversity), the biggest German diversity association. As we are also signing the charter, we didn’t want to miss the chance to celebrate Diversity Day at Scout24 for the very first time.
Our intentions were to create awareness among employees and organisational learning. We like our colleagues to actively engage with different aspects of diversity and inclusion: what it means, how to actively foster diversity, and how to create an inclusive and welcoming environment within the company and their teams. Therefore, we organised four live sessions via Zoom, e.g. on hiring for diversity, and how to avoid everyday discrimination or parental challenges during coronavirus times. We were happy to see about 440 Scouts dial-in for the sessions, which is more than twice as much as expected.
For further training, we put together a Diversity & Inclusion playlist on our Scout24Academy (our internal online training platform). We also wanted to provide our employees with a sense of Scout24’s diversity of around 50 nationalities by calling for recipes from each other’s home towns. Recommendations on series, movies and books on diversity were also provided, with the intention of further insights into diversity to explore after work in a relaxing way.
Lastly, how would you describe #WorkingAtScout24 in three words?
Sabine: Live your potential.