Walter Crasshole on why the world doesn’t necessarily need more gay CEOs.
As the Berlinale was swelling up, my inbox was pumped full of the usual press releases and event invites, but in particular one caught my attention. Held in the Canadian Embassy on Leipziger Platz – and I’ll admit, I was actually more turned on by the idea of seeing North America’s most exciting embassy than anything else – was a Teddy Award-backed talk on “diversity in the workplace and society”. Okay, so that’s also of interest to me. But reading the list of participants, I couldn’t help but let out an uncontrolled guffaw at what was a rainbow grab-bag of LGBTQ corporate representatives. Speakers included current and former employees of ERGO insurance, Postbank, Siemens and Axel Springer, all of them gay, lesbian or trans.
It’s funny to me that ‘diversity’ is now being measured in terms of who can climb the corporate ladder.
I wonder if their CV listed “femme” or “butch” in their qualifications. Being queer obviously didn’t get them their jobs, but it’s funny to me that “diversity” is now being measured in terms of who can climb the corporate ladder. The email framed it like there was some kind of rose-tinted ceiling to crack, despite the Gucci suits already on the panel. The subtitle of the discussion was “A lot of room for improvement in terms of equality.” But being at the top doesn’t ensure more diversity or equality, just different people making decisions about the same all-important profit margins and bottom lines. Putting queers at the top isn’t going to drastically improve anyone’s life, just their own wallets. It’s not like putting lesbian politician Alice Weidel at the top of the AfD changed that for the better. If anything, companies hiring openly LGBTQ employees allows them to pat themselves on the back and say, “We’re doing the best we can. Look how many diverse, queer people we’ve got making decisions.” It’s pinkwashing, in other words.
What about diversity where it really counts? Last March, a preschool teacher in Reinickendorf had his job threatened by petition because parents didn’t want a gay man looking after their children. The school stood by the teacher and the parents took their kids elsewhere, but why not stuff our schools full of more queer teachers so it’s not up for discussion? Or what about social workers? Queer refugees get bumped up in priority in Germany and there are a number of reasons why that’s a good thing, but wouldn’t it be great if their case workers were queer too? Instead of suspicion, some of society’s most vulnerable members could be met with more understanding.
But back to queers on top. We’ve already kind of got that in the bag. Just look at Berlin’s culture, entertainment and nightlife. Our film festivals, art galleries, theatres and clubs? All run by queers. I honestly couldn’t give a shit whether my bank and insurance company are, too.