Rebecca & Jonas: Just Be (Friends) at Roland Berger – Supporting inclusion and diversity
Joining the company in 2013, Rebecca is now a Principal in the Detroit Office and helped found the Just Be Friends community, the supporting network of Roland Berger's LGBTQ+ community in 2019. Jonas joined the company one year ago as a Consultant in the Frankfurt Office and is a member of the Just Be community, the firm-internal network for LGBTQ+ colleagues. In celebration of Pride Week, they both joined forces to give their perspectives on LGBTQ+ efforts and diversity at the firm.
Jonas: Hi everyone! My name is Jonas and I joined Roland Berger last year after an internship. Already during that internship, I felt how strongly the company supports one of its core values, diversity. The colleagues that you get to meet during your different projects and activities all have various educational backgrounds, as well as personalities and life stories. I have a background in finance and worked with colleagues that studied psychology, engineering, law (and probably a lot more). The experience during that internship has taught me that being your true self is something that is not only highly valued at Roland Berger but is supported by every colleague on a day-to-day basis. That is why after joining the company as a full-time Consultant I immediately became a member of Just Be, the Roland Berger LGBTQ+ community.
Rebecca: Hi readers! My name is Rebecca and I too, joined Roland Berger after an internship. During my internship, diversity played a big role in my attraction to Roland Berger. I was interested in how international the firm was (my background is an international relations major in college) and was struck by the old slogan "Characters create impact" (which wasn't the actual slogan, but people often said it that way). One of my own characteristics is that I'm a little bit of an advocate; and having a gay brother, I wanted a way to show support at work. A few others had the same notion and we got together with the Just be group to organize an ally group to support them. That's how we launched Just be Friends last year. We were overwhelmed by the amount of positive response we got, becoming the largest affinity community within Roland Berger. At RB, I've found a place that allowed me to be who I am and create value because of it, surrounded by others that challenge me with their unique perspectives. I'm glad that Jonas and I both experienced that – it says a lot about the firm.
Jonas: Roland Berger's Just Be (and Just Be Friends) community acts as a place where LGBTQ+ colleagues can feel welcome and safe from any possible judgement. It does so by organizing various internal and external events that provide opportunities to exchange thoughts and discussions among its members and act as a network for its members across all levels of hierarchy. During its annual assembly, all members physically get together once a year to get to know each other (which is especially helpful for new joiners) and plan activities for the upcoming year. The largest one is the Roland Berger Pride Week, a company-wide event taking place in June that is jointly organized with the Just Be Friends community. For one week, we celebrate the diversity within the company and raise awareness towards the obstacles that LGBTQ+ people around the world face at the work place and in their private lives. During the rest of the year, we organize and support HR-related activities, such as the Sticks & Stones career fair, that foster the visibility of Roland Berger as an employer that strongly supports diversity.
Rebecca: I think Pride Week is great in several ways: For all the reasons Jonas mentioned, and that it stands out as one of the best examples in my experience at Roland Berger of colleagues from all offices collectively participating in the same event that shows our values. The aim of Just be Friends is to help support the awareness around LGBTQ+ issues in the company and help foster a safe and inclusive work environment. Any Roland Berger employee can become a member by simply signing a pledge. All around the world, you can see Just Be Friends members and teams actively supporting LGBTQ+ recruitment efforts and awareness events, even partnering to support other affinity groups on general diversity efforts. Going forward we hope to get together again soon (COVID-19 did not help) to coordinate globally on initiatives to take forward, best practice sharing and find new ideas to help institutionalize ways to support diversity within the firm.
Jonas: I am very glad to be part of a company that supports diversity in such a strong way. However, the work that we are doing is far from over. Some of our colleagues still face oppression in their countries concerning their gender, religion or sexual orientation. Our goal is to continue to provide a safe and welcoming workplace and promote Roland Berger as a workplace for everyone to be their true selves.
Rebecca: I agree with Jonas. We all know change doesn't happen overnight. The great thing about RB is that we are given the responsibility (the freedom and encouragement) to help build the firm we want to work at. This is what motivates me, and as far as Just Be Friends goes, we hope to take advantage of that and continue to build out a more inclusive, vibrant workplace for all.