Economy & Politics

“Ashamed of the abyss” – Photo of Daimler subsidiary sparked outrage

No proportion of women: this photo of the new top management of Daimler subsidiary Mercedes AMG HPP triggers criticism. Photo: Daimler AG

They wear black pants and white shirts, stand in a row – and are all men. A photo of the new top management of a Daimler subsidiary sparked a heated debate on Twitter.

Stuttgart – A photo of the new top management of a Daimler subsidiary triggered furious reactions on Twitter. This shows the five men who will direct the fortunes of the racing engine manufacturer based in Great Britain from July 1st. Black pants, white shirt, everyone is lined up – that’s how Ronald Ballhaus, Adam Allsopp, Hywel Thomas, Richard Stevens and Pierre Godof present themselves in the photo of the official press release of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. There is no trace of a woman on the executive floor – and that is exactly what makes the air thick. Sascha Pallenberg, Daimler’s man against the Shitstorms, takes care of the matter.

Serious allegations against Daimler subsidiary

Elena Pieper, former spokeswoman for the SPD party executive, is in a bad mood at the sight of the male-dominated management team. “I would like to live in a world in which men are ashamed of such photos,” she wrote in a tweet about the company’s photo who manufactures engines for Formula 1. The post has received almost 9000 likes in the short message service and has been shared by other users almost a thousand times.

The SPD woman obviously hits the nerve in the network community with her criticism. Sascha Pallenberg, the public bumper of the Stuttgart-based car maker, enters the debate. The former technology blogger, who now works in Daimler’s communications department, defends his employer on Twitter.

What Pieper denounces: As with all Dax companies, women in management positions are still very rare at Daimler. The new, purely male management team at Mercedes-AMG HPP exemplifies the underrepresentation of women in the automotive industry, especially in management positions. She wants a culture “in which men are aware of their dominance and their privileges and change something in concrete terms,” ​​says the media woman in her comments on Twitter. She appeals to the men “to make room for qualified women, to question their own sexism and to work for a culture that is actually open and diverse”.

Daimler speaks for diversity

Daimler does not want to go into the specific Twitter dispute that the photo triggered. At the request of our editorial team on Friday, however, the carmaker emphasized: “Daimler was one of the first companies in Germany to set a target corridor in 2006 to promote women in management positions,” said spokeswoman Kathrin Schnurr. By the end of the year, the proportion of women in managerial positions worldwide is expected to increase to at least 20 percent. It is currently almost 19 percent.

Sascha Pallenberg, the voice of the Daimler group on social media, clicked directly into the Twitter debate and rejected Pieper’s allegations of sexism. With her tweet, she “clearly hit a nerve” and raised an important topic, he replied. But Pallenberg also said that Daimler is strongly committed to diversity and equality in its companies:

The social media strategist emphasizes that the Stuttgart-based carmaker has been trying for many years to “break up these stereotypical thinking patterns”. The group fights with numerous initiatives not only for equality between women and men, but also against discrimination of all kinds.

He regrets that women in the Daimler companies are still clearly outnumbered. But to be able to implement diversity better, the group relies on the support of politics. Pallenberg therefore calls on Elena Pieper and SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil, who has not yet taken part in the current debate, to change the structures in the German education system so that girls are more interested in technical and scientific professions.

Lack of female managers is not an isolated case

The top positions of many companies in the country are very often still male domains. That is changing slowly. The proportion of women at the top management level was just under 26 percent in 2018, according to a recent study by the Institute for Applied Economic Research.

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