Nadine Neumayer (centre) heads a Lise-Meitner group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. Together with her team, she studies dwarf galaxies and star clusters.

Equal opportunities and access for all

Talent, creativity and passion - that's what the Max Planck Society relies on. It promotes all employees equally. Because research needs diversity. This is also formulated in the Code of Conduct, the core values of the Max Planck Society: "We treat each other with respect and do not tolerate any form of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or belief, age, sexual orientation or identity. Thus, the Code of Conduct identifies the nine key areas that comprise the understanding of diversity. An open, international, diverse and inclusive working culture lays the foundation for the cutting-edge research conducted at the 86 Max Planck Institutes.

The current 15 local diversity groups, each of which is working at its MPI for more diversity and inclusion in everyday working life, are an example of how much the topic moves people. The number of groups is growing steadily.

In December 2021, the digital Max Planck event Cultural Diversity Conference - Overcoming cultural misconceptions and enhancing ethnic diversity at Max Planck Society dealt with aspects such as racism and discrimination. There, topics such as white supremacy in Germany and in research, anti-discrimination and anti-racism strategies, micro-aggression and ways to promote an inclusive and welcoming work environment were discussed.

Access for all, which also means hiring more people with a severe disability (scientific and non-scientific). To achieve this goal, the framework integration agreement was revised, with the strategic orientation from individual to social model of severe disability. We want to further improve accessibility and inclusion in everyday work. Here, "digital inclusion" is increasingly coming into focus.

More visibility for the LGBTQA+ community within the Max Planck Society is what the MPQueer network is working for - since 2021 also supported centrally. This includes, for example, the official recognition of the gender identity of all employees. Since 2021, employees have been able to declare their gender identity on a voluntary basis in addition to the four existing indications in the gender field (male, female, diverse, no indication). The MPG is thus catching up with international standards and is the first German research institution to recognise the gender identity of its employees as part of its understanding of diversity.

An important building block for an open and diverse working culture is training and seminars on the various aspects of diversity. The Planck Academy, for example, offers training on diversity management and unconscious bias.

We promote talents

It is a strategic goal of the Max Planck Society to raise the professional profile of its employees. We

  • back equal opportunities for all and acts to implement all requirements aimed at establishing diversity and to offer attractive framework conditions
  • focus continually on career advancement and pays special attention to its female scientists:
  • strive to offer structured support to young scientists in order to help them achieve their individual career goals
  • build bridges to facilitate the reconciliation of family life, leisure and career and to bring about more women in managerial positions
  • have made a voluntary commitment: In a period of five years (currently to 2017), it is aiming to increase the proportion of women in managerial positions on three different pay groups by five percentage points in each case. In addition, at least one female director is to be employed at each Max Planck Institute by the end of 2030.

How we are building bridges

For the long term, the Max Planck Society has signed up to the overarching goal that it should be possible to embark on qualification paths in science without encountering any gender-specific barriers: because special career advancement mechanisms or qualification elements for female scientists contain the fundamental risk that existing structures will be left unchanged; changing them, however, in a way that creates space for diversity, is both motivation and aspiration alike to the Max Planck Society.

This is also documented by the "Opportunities" Committee chaired by Vice President Asifa Akhtar. The objective is to work with the scientific Sections to implement an expanded equal opportunity strategy on a lasting basis and to smooth the way for cultural change. Such a cultural change has a good prospect of succeeding if it is supported and driven by all functional and hierarchical levels including Institute Management.

 

Gender Equality Officers

The Gender Equality Officers are important players at Max Planck Institutes and facilities. Working in a voluntary or part-time capacity, they perform their gender equality work on site and lobby in their respective location for gender justice and gender sensitivity. They are the contacts for employees in all questions regarding career advancement, and they help to remove discrimination. They "are involved in all personnel, organizational and social measures relating to equality between men and women, the reconciliation of family life and work as well as protection from sexual harassment at the workplace". The post of Gender Equality Officer is an elected office with a term of four years. At present, the right to vote and stand as a candidate extends to all female employees in the MPG.

A Section Gender Equality Officer and two deputies are elected for each scientific Section from the group of Gender Equality Officers. They participate in the gender-appropriate processing of appointment procedures.

The Max Planck Society also has a Central Gender Equality Officer. She advises and supports her colleagues at the Max Planck Institutes and represents the interests of equality both internally and externally. She also acts as the interface between her colleagues at the Institutes and Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society, and ensures that the various viewpoints and concerns of the other side in each case are heard. She advises the management of the Max Planck Society in matters of gender equality policy and plays an active part in developing gender equality policy and strategy.

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