Kai Werner is Managing Director at Commerzbank. Since 2001 he has held various sales, central and management positions at Commerzbank in Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and now in Berlin.
Laura: This year at the Berlin RAHM Contest you have been a Jury Member as well as one of the representatives for the Commerzbank, which hosted the whole Contest. How is it that Commerzbank’s support network for LGBT+ employees is so highly developed?
Kai: In fact, it is quite simple: we initiate and understand our ARCO network a time ago not only as a kind of obligatory business task but much more as a real people scheme. The human aspect is the core. And it is not open only for LGBT+ employees. There are straight allies, too. As you know our board member Jenny Friese joined the network this year - as a chairwoman and strong supporter within company. This and a special campaign this year gave us much more visibility. Many open and joined activities foster a common understanding and grants positive experience for everybody who takes part.
On account of my surroundings, my values, friends and supporters I have been lucky enough to be myself from the very beginning.
Throughout your career, how did your experience being ‘’out and proud’’? What would you say are currently the biggest challenges for the LGBT+ community in the corporate world?
Frankly speaking, I have been able and lucky to pursue a path without larger obstacles. On account of my surroundings, my values, friends and supporters I have been lucky enough to be myself from the very beginning. Hence, I really was able to focus on my career. Fortunately, I did not experience any drawbacks afterwards on account of being gay. In corporate world this positive environment really is not the standard though as we all know. I guess that this is the biggest task: to establish an equal and fair playing field for everyone.
What are the most common areas that future LGBT+ leaders ask to be mentored in or situations where they ask for advice?
This is not that easy to answer. Actually, I guess that real challenges on a keen career path do not vary that much. I experience that the whole leadership idea focuses more on true values, on human aspects, empathy! Why is it so? Business world is fast changing. Although economy is doing well overall, uncertainty has become an larger issue almost for everyone. Fears of the future can diminish motivation of people. Targets may get lost. We need vision, confidence and a real interest in people. Wise leaders comprise a large set of skills – some you can learn, others you need to exercise and practice again and again – this is the same for LGBT+ leaders. But on top: they should still be a authentic role model.
What are 3 tips you would give our RAHMers - the next generation of LGBT+ leaders?
Put trust in yourself and be yourself. Be happy in what you are doing!
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