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Diversity is in our DNA

Icon: Three people, one of whom is in a wheelchair

At GIZ, diversity is the norm. The variety of ideas, knowledge, outlooks and life plans are a success factor in our work around the world.

In October 2019, GIZ signed the German Diversity Charter, an employers’ initiative to promote diversity in companies and institutions. By signing the charter, GIZ emphasised its firm belief that people with a wide range of talents, skills and personal life experience enrich and enhance the work that everybody does.

In 2021, we published our understanding of diversity, making our stance clear: we are committed to diversity and reject all forms of discrimination. In addition to a zero tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination, our understanding of diversity also includes the promotion of equal opportunities to harness existing diversity for the company’s success. The code integrated into this document details our definition of a respectful and appreciative corporate culture and what behaviour we expect from our staff.

‘GIZ is a diverse company. Everyone should have equal opportunities to participate in shaping a future worth living. Discussions about diversity therefore touch directly upon GIZ’s perception of its own role and place an obligation on us to stand up for diversity and its different dimensions.’

Excerpt from GIZ’s understanding of diversity

Having a common understanding of diversity provides us with the basis to work together without discrimination. In 2021, we created the post of Diversity Manager to mainstream this understanding throughout the company. In addition, we have continued to strengthen our Compliance and Integrity Unit, which is now the central port of call for complaints in connection with discrimination and our Code of Ethics. For suspected cases of sexual misconduct, we have created a protected reporting procedure on GIZ’s whistleblower portal, thereby meeting our obligations arising from national and international diversity guidelines and laws.

A wide range of measures and activities were implemented in the reporting year, once again including Diversity Week in September 2021. Under the motto ‘United in Diversity – Diversity in Practice at GIZ’, almost 50 events with more than 7,000 participants were held during Diversity Week 2021. The events highlighted all the different aspects of diversity, including age, post-colonialism, decolonisation of LGBTIQ+ rights, digital accessibility, belonging, religion at GIZ, gender identity, and diversity and sustainability. Diversity Week was organised jointly by the Human Relations Department, the office of GIZ Managing Director and Labour Relations Director Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, various staff initiatives, the equal opportunities commissioners, the gender commissioner and the disabled persons’ representations.


During Diversity Week ...

more than 50
events were held

in 4

with more than 7,000

Other measures included a number of in-house awareness-raising measures on the topic of diversity, the integration of diversity into feedback to managers and initial steps to set up training on diversity for the entire workforce, which is to be held for the first time in 2022.


Gender equality continues to be an important topic – in society in general and at GIZ. The GIZ country office in Serbia organised a Gender Week in 2021. A whole series of workshops were held to allow staff to explore the basic significance of gender aspects and to consider what this means for their work and for how they interact with one another. They addressed both the legal requirements concerning equal rights and discrimination in Serbia and the standards laid down at GIZ. Participants also found out who they can contact if they experience discrimination or sexual harassment in the course of their work for GIZ.

Committed staff are a crucial factor in living diversity, and GIZ can rely on a particularly engaged workforce. Staff initiatives, such as the Cultural Diversity Initiative and the Rainbow Network, draw attention to discriminatory, historically evolved structures. GIZ hosts an annual Diversity Week in collaboration with these initiatives. And these efforts have been recognised within the company: in 2021, the Cultural Diversity Initiative, a black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPoC) network, won the Sustainability Contest held by GIZ’s Sustainability Office in the ‘human rights’ category.

Diversity in figures

As at 31 December 2021, 60 per cent of the 8,090 staff with a German employment contract at GIZ were women; women account for almost 48 per cent in the field structure and 66 per cent in Germany. Gender parity has been achieved among the directors general of departments and directors of corporate units. The proportion of women among the heads of section, cluster coordinators, country directors and the directors of divisions and corporate units has risen continually since 2014 and is now nearly 45 per cent. A similar trend can be observed for coordination and managerial roles in senior positions: here, too, the share of women has steadily increased and is now almost 50 per cent. In 2021, the overall share of women in all managerial positions grew. The average age of staff with a German employment contract is decreasing: as at 31 December 2021, it was 42.2. The average age of female employees is 41.3, making them around two years younger on average than their male colleagues, whose average age is 43.6.

As at 31 December 2021, there were employees from a total of 119 different nations with a German employment contract. Of these, EU nationals account for the largest share, the majority of whom are French (134) or Austrian (96). Outside the EU, British (49) and Swiss nationals (45) form the largest group. Of the employees from partner countries, the biggest groups are from Kenya (27) and Cameroon (23). Following the introduction of the Inclusion Agreement in 2020, GIZ focused in particular on the long-term inclusion of staff with disabilities. As at 31 December 2021, they accounted for 3.2 per cent of the workforce, an increase of 0.3 per cent compared with the end of the first half of 2021. Overall, 260 of the 8,090 staff members have a degree of disability of at least 50 per cent or a recognised equivalent disability.

Information on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found on this page:

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 5 Gender equality
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 10 Reduced inequalities

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 2-6, 2-7, 405, 406; UNGC 6; The Code 14, 15, 16