INTERVIEW WITH DR. JEAN-LUC VEY ON THE START OF NOMINATIONS FOR THE PROUT PERFORMER-LISTS
“LISTS LIKE PROUT PERFORMER SHOW THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO TALK OPENLY ABOUT your SEXUAL orientation AND GENDER IDENTITY AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR CAREER AT THE SAME TIME.”
Hello Jean-Luc. Thank you for your time and for giving us the opportunity to do this interview. PROUT AT WORK is publishing the new PROUT PERFORMER lists for the first time this year. How does it come about?
Jean-Luc Vey: First of all, I would like to thank everyone involved in GERMANY’S TOP 100 OUT EXECUTVES for making the list as successful as it has been over the last three years. Those are mainly the role models who made it onto one of the lists, but also every single nominee. I would also like to thank those who nominated their colleagues and people they know. Above all, I would like to especially thank the jury and our cooperation partners.
They have all contributed a great deal to the visibility of the LGBT*IQ community in Germany. The lists have shown that it is possible to be open about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity in everyday working life without experiencing negative career consequences. With their commitment to equal rights and equal opportunities for LGBT*IQ people at work, those who made it onto the list serve as role models for the entire LGBT*IQ community and beyond.
PROUT AT WORK terminated the collaboration with our partner at the end of the year. However, the visibility of LGBT*IQ at work is still very close to our hearts. Therefore, we have decided to continue the lists with a new name, to further develop them and to publish them on our own in 2021. Being out in the workplace should be the rule and not the exception. We will continue to work for this in the future with our various projects.
Why are these lists so important?
Jean-Luc Vey: As already mentioned, this is mainly about visibility. Studies continue to show that many LGBT*IQ students go back into the closet once they start their professional lives, out of fear that coming out will have a negative impact on their careers. Lists like PROUT PERFORMER show that it is possible to be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity and be successful in your career at the same time. This helps others to have the confidence to come out as well. And this in turn has been proven to have positive effects on mental health and productivity at work.
What is the difference between the new PROUT PERFORMER-lists and the former TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVE lists?
Jean-Luc Vey: In order to make the PROUT PERFORMER-lists even more attractive, we first carried out a survey among old candidates to find out where they felt there was still room for improvement. We took this feedback to heart in the following redesign and incorporated it into the structure of the new lists. Therefore, we now have more distinct categories in the PROUT PERFORMERS-lists and for example have created a separate list for SMEs. In addition, Executive Allies are now also being recognised on a special list. Another new aspect is that we only rank the top places on the list, as we do not want to create competition between the individual candidates.
But why rank the top places anyway?
Jean-Luc Vey: This is because there are still some people who have done particularly outstanding work for LGBT*IQ equality at the workplace over the past year – with important initiatives, new projects or other activities. We would like to give them special attention by highlighting them at the top of the list.
What part does the PROUT PERFORMER jury play in this?
Jean-Luc Vey: We spoke with the jury ahead of redesigning the lists, too. We are very proud to have won such top-class people for the project again. But we are also aware that due to their important roles in their companies, they often do not have the time to evaluate each candidate individually – this was also expressed in their direct feedback.
Therefore, the first evaluation will be carried out by the PROUT AT WORK-Foundation, which will use the information and criteria submitted to determine who will earn a spot on the list and who, because of their exceptional achievements, will have a chance to reach one of the highest-ranking positions. These people are then asked to introduce themselves to the jury through a short video clip, and the jury then determines the top positions. This way we were able to secure the prominent jury members and still ensure an attractive evaluation process for the nominees.
How can people nominate their role models for the PROUT PERFORMER-lists?
Jean-Luc Vey: Nominations are now accepted through our website. It can be found at proutperformer.de. We are looking forward to all nominations and to creating more visibility for LGBT*IQ at the workplace together with our community.
Thank you for this interview, Jean-Luc!
First place, GERMANY’S TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVES 2020
“Managers shape a company’s culture. The more openly we practice diversity, the more open our dealings with each other become.”
Nico Hofmann, who was born in Heidelberg in 1959, is one of Germany’s leading film and television producers and CEO of UFA. He has been responsible for some of the most successful films and series of the past two decades. Together with Bernd Eichinger, Nico Hofmann launched the young talent award FIRST STEPS in 1999. He has won numerous national and international awards for his work as a director and producer.
Nico Hofmann, many congratulations on being ranked no. 1 in GERMANY’S TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVES list. You were already on the list last year – what responses did you receive as a result of that?
Nico Hofmann: Thanks! I’m delighted, although I see the list of Out Executives as more of a platform for dialogue than just a ranking. After I was ranked 12th last year, I was able to create lots of contacts with other colleagues from the list. That’s very valuable. It’s important to make diversity visible and the Out Executives list is a very interesting way of doing that.
Being out at work – what does that mean in a leadership position?
Nico Hofmann: Managers shape a company’s culture, so the significance shouldn’t be underestimated. However, the need for diversity and the energy come primarily also from the employees themselves. The younger generation in particular are making very strong calls for this – something we have a keen sense of at UFA. The company has changed in the past five years, becoming much more female and much younger. And the more openly we practice diversity, the more open our dealings with each other become. Today we discuss things differently and cast roles differently as well. UFA’s parent group Bertelsmann has the be.queer network, which we became part of by creating be.queer@UFA. Here, too, a lot of the initiative stemmed from our employees.
Nevertheless, the German film industry in particular could still do a lot more about diversity. How do you see your own role here?
Nico Hofmann: I very clearly have a political agenda. I appear in the media and talk about the subject. Germany is about five years behind the USA in this area, but things are moving. Together with the media industry magazine DWDL.de, we had planned to hold a diversity summit for the film industry in Cologne this year. Unfortunately, it had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the summit will take place next year because the demand for it was very strong. The major channels had confirmed their attendance, the tickets were quickly sold out and big names were set to appear on the panels – that tells me how topical the subject is for the film industry.
LGBT*IQ people still barely feature in German film and television productions, and when they do, they often have very clichéd roles. What is being done to change this?
Nico Hofmann: Diversity has long been visible in our daily dramas such as “GZSZ” (“Good Times, Bad Times”), and we have currently begun filming our queer series “All You Need” for the public channel ARD – this wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. If we show LGBT*IQ people as a perfectly normal part of films and series without turning them into victims or resorting to clichés, my hope is that, in society as a whole, they can develop their own self-identity because this has become an entirely natural thing to do.
What’s more, today we have a different generation of creatives. I teach at the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg and some of my best students there are from minority ethnic groups and approach topics in a completely different way. I’ve also had the opportunity to support the development of several transgender students at the Film Academy and I’m seeing a generation come through that has a very strong need for diversity.
The interview was conducted as part of GERMANY’S TOP 100 OUT EXECUTIVES. This list is a joint project with the UHLALA Group and is now available online.