Question: You’ve been a TÜV SÜD Women’s Network grassroots mentor. What behaviour makes you stand out when it comes to empowering female colleagues or team members?
Emre: The mentor mentee match was perfect, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your Women’s Network initiative. My mentee and I had a similar amount of professional experience and outside of work, common interests and perhaps most importantly, were both open to exchange and this communication only deepened in the pandemic. We never talked about the situation in the sense of who was learning from whom. It was a living process from the very beginning. We walked hand in hand together, we learned from each other and I said to her “Let us both help to get the most out of it!”. I think our relationship will last even when the program will be over.
Question: What is your definition of diversity? How do you encourage people to honour the uniqueness of everyone?
Emre: This is a very tricky situation. If you consider too much and too much focus on this “I will solve this diversity issue!” than you are the one who promotes the discrimination in my view. Instead you should really live it. For me it makes no difference which gender, race, sexual preference a person has. If the person who is holding a managerial position doesn’t find embracing diversity naturally easy, then he must be professionally guided and told.
In my case, I have a diverse background: I am a person who has grown up in a country and who speaks another language of another country where he never lived. I never lived in Germany, but I finished an Austrian college in Istanbul. Graduated from a Turkish university, supported by a German Academic Exchange Organization, speaking in German, my father was with Siemens.
In my case I see each and every one as a valuable person, regardless of gender. Instead I celebrate people’s uniqueness – their own fingerprint. But of course, he or she should not wear it like a badge e.g. “I am a woman!”, “I am a Christian!” or “I am a Muslim!”
Question: What do you personally consider the biggest challenge/ roadblock for talented female colleagues?
Emre: I recently heard a new English expression “glass ceiling” from a female member of my team. In my opinion it is quite tough for women as its invisible.
In my view, we need to stop making diversity a topic as that only serves to support those who divide and categorise. Instead we need to communicate positive messages in our internal and external channels and demonstrate with use cases how open we are.
Question: When it comes to career advancement, what strategies for increasing diversity in leadership roles you think would work?
Emre: In Turkey its evident that there is a positive increase of powerful women in politics, culture and sports. I don’t think this is because women are getting stronger. Its more about the fact that the world is normalizing, evolution. And this evolution positively impacts our operations in Turkey.
I will give you an example. I attend thousands of meetings every year. Now with Corona even more meetings. The sad truth is that even today, if there is someone in the meeting who doesn`t speak German, people keep on speaking German, because they know everyone speaks German and they expect the people from TÜV SÜD Turkey have to speak German which is not the case actually. In a lot of professions, it is not a must and the company language is English. What can you say? You can’t start a program about language or national diversity. We need to focus. We need to go, touch and try and convince those People.
But I have to say, I really congratulate this initiative, because you opened the discussion. But the biggest mistake we both can do know is to await that this initiative solves everything and creates a bright future for us. You will be able to create the discussions. The biggest winning and the biggest journey ending of this project could be that we really think about this problematic realistically with our hearts. We should let them think about and create solutions. I will be happily doing my best to support this workshop. But they must be first saying their ideas and this can`t be by Chance.
The world is changing so there are enough talented women around.
I would very much welcome an increase in women taking on senior leadership roles, such as a country/region CEO or Division CEO.