“We want to create an inclusive environment for all people.”
“What do you need?” This simple question by Scout24’s CEO at the time at a conference in 2011 changed the lives of Raul Krauthausen and Jonas Deister. They are the founder and managing director respectively of the Sozialheld*innen association (Social Heroes), which advocates for greater participation of people with disabilities and for improved accessibility. The answer came immediately: “An office.” Because until then, the association had partly worked out of laundromats, Berlin’s circular urban rail line and IKEA’s office furniture department, among other unlikely places. No sooner said than done. Soon afterwards, Raul Krauthausen, Jonas Deister and the rest of the team moved into Scout24’s offices in Berlin – where they remain to this day, even after the move into the new building at Berlin’s main railway station. In addition to the premises, Scout24 provides the association with technical infrastructure and expertise. “We started to develop strategies and plans for the first time and to receive visitors. We organised ourselves better and became more productive and professional. This was only possible thanks to this new permanent base and the other structures on site, which we are able to use at any time,” Jonas Deister says in retrospect. In the meantime, the association has grown considerably: from 5 in the beginning to almost 30 team members by now.
And as befits a good partnership, both sides benefit: the Social Heroes help us make our products and services even more accessible for people with mobility and visual impairments. Take, for example, the integration on ImmoScout24 of what we call the “wheelmap”: a map indicating wheelchair-accessible locations. In addition, the Social Heroes help us to raise awareness about inclusion – for instance, with the “Inclusion of people with disabilities” day that we organised together in 2021. In three digital sessions, Scout24 employees were able to learn more about the topics “Work and disability”, “Disability in language and imagery” and “Digital accessibility”.
“First, we analysed the areas in which we specifically see a need for action.”
“At Scout24, we have set out on the path to an inclusive and values-based culture. The long-standing partnership with the Social Heroes helps us along the way and sensitises us again and again to be aware of and think about the needs and demands of people with disabilities,” Sabine Würkner says. As Head of Culture, Development, Diversity & Inclusion, she coordinated all initiatives in this area until June 2022. In addition to the key topics of accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities, the focus in 2021 was on diversity. “In order to address the issue strategically, we analysed the areas in which we see a specific need for action and set ourselves ambitious targets in this respect.”
One of the goals: by the end of 2021, one in two new hires should be female or non-binary, meaning that they don’t or only partially identify with the binary genders. “To achieve this goal, we have reorganised some internal processes, especially in recruiting. In addition to trainings to raise awareness among our recruiters and hiring managers, we used gender-neutral language in all job postings.” The initiatives had an impact: At the end of 2021, 55 percent of new hires were female or non-binary.
“For us, diversity is more than gender.”
However, Scout24 has not only converted its job advertisements to gender-neutral and inclusive language, but also more than 90 percent of its other information and communication content – for example, internal mailings, newsletters and the company website. This is a manifestation of our commitment to diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Because language has a big impact, especially in the small and everyday. With inclusive wording, we address not only women and men equally, but additionally non-binary people.
Diversity in practice should also be reflected at the top of the Company. That is why another of Scout24’s goals was to increase diversity in the Company’s management positions – from 30 percent to 37 percent. We achieved this goal by the end of the year. In the long term, we would like to increase this figure to 43 percent by the end of 2026. With Claudia Viehweger as Chief Human Resources Officer and Rowena Patrao as Chief Technology Officer, we were able to recruit two women for important management positions in the Group. In these functions, they are members of our executive leadership team. This means that two out of seven positions, or just under 29 percent of the executive leadership team, are held by women. This also underscores our progress on diversity.
“We want to reinforce a culture where everyone feels valued, respected and safe.”
“For us, diversity is more than gender. We want to create an inclusive environment for all people – regardless of their ethnicity, the colour of their skin, gender, sexual identity, age, religion, disability, nationality or any other attributes. At Scout24, we want to create and reinforce a culture in which everyone feels equally valued, respected and confident to be themselves,” Sabine Würkner says. Our goal is therefore for one in four new hires to cover another diversity dimension beyond gender, such as nationality or disability.
But if we aim to make a lasting difference, purely measurable goals for diversity and inclusion are not enough. The topic has to be encoded in the DNA and lived in daily work. To this end, we have launched other initiatives in addition to Disability Day. For Diversity Week, we offered training and presentations on topics such as “Living and working with ADHD and autism” and “How to combat structural racism.” For Pride Week, all colleagues were invited to an LGBTIQ+ diversity training to learn more about sexual orientation and gender identity and to support the LGBTIQ+ community at Scout24.
“We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished in diversity and inclusion in 2021: we have raised awareness about an inclusive work environment, promoted the diversity of our teams and increased the share of women throughout the Company as well as in management positions. Our ambition is to continue on this path in the coming years and to champion diversity and inclusion beyond the boundaries of our company,” Sabine Würkner says.
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