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Otto Group "Diversity Controlling"

Company Description


Otto Group


Multichannel Retail, Financial Services, Service



Company size:

Number of employees: 53,103
Turnover: EUR 11.6 billion


Contact person



Dr. Regine Pohlmann
Senior Manager Compensation and HR Controlling
+49 40 64617342

Project Description

Key Facts

Project Title:

"Diversity Controlling"

Start of activities:


End of activities:

to be continued

The Otto Group operates in more than 20 countries in the sectors Multichannel Retail, Financial Services and Service, with a revenue of roughly 11.6 billion euros (2011/12). In 2011, the group started an internal diversity controlling programme, which polls company-specific diversity goals once a year.

Main goal

The Otto Group currently promotes diversity and gender equality. In Germany, the group wants to monitor that programme and measures its effectiveness more closely. The aim is to establish company-wide "diversity controlling" as the basis for systematic and goal-orientated diversity management. ("You only can manage what you measure")

Group of employees in focus

The programme targets all employees.

Initial situation

The Group's Strategic HR Management recognised that the Otto Group faces a variety of new challenges, internal and external. Demographic change can mean future skill shortages. The spread of the internet and globalisation and increasing innovation all represent new pressures for the Otto Group in an evolving corporate environment where awareness is growing that diversity is an issue. The challenge is to create a win-win-situation for the company and its employees through systematic diversity management.

Project goals

Review the status quo to identify areas of action required in each corporate affiliate from which to derive tailored measures to each company.

Monitor performance to measure success, to identify where targets are being missed and to derive action to improve performance.

Reporting to communicate progress and keep management informed.

Project activities

General suggestions for action come from the "diversity controlling" team while each affiliate takes its own decisions. The project is divided into target areas to ensure there are equal opportunities for both genders at all management levels.

In recruitment, the company needs to present itself as gender neutral. New staff should be recruited without regard to gender while giving preference, in areas where one gender is under-represented to applicants of that gender.

In personnel development and pay, gender must play no role in individuals’ career development, above all in filling senior positions. Personnel development opportunities must be geared equally to the needs of men and women. Pay levels and structures should be the same for men and women: equal pay for equal work.

Under organisation and corporate culture, working arrangements and conditions should reflect the needs of men and women with a corporate culture which values men and women equally while regarding their different attributes as positive.


In the Otto Group as a whole, staff have become more aware of diversity issues and more willing to accept and support the measures taken.

So for example, one member of the Otto group now includes the following words in job ads: "When equally qualified, women will be given preference". Moreover, it is now a stated goal that 50% of management positions should be filled by women.

Challenges encountered during the project

Initially, motivating all those involved in the project to take part in the monitoring and controlling process proved a challenge.

Another problem was to monitor development in the different affiliates so as to incorporate their activities in a single analysis and report.

Maintaining diversity as a priority requires constant effort in the face of competition from more immediate and short-term goals.

Lessons learned

The pursuit of diversity as a corporate goal has to come from top management which must first be convinced of its benefits and needs to support all initiatives.

Corporate affiliates need regular assistance with the monitoring process from the centre to ensure they are motivated to put their knowledge and support behind diversity management.

In a large organisation like the Otto Group, the approach to diversity must show some flexiblity with each affiliate allowed to adjust targets according to its specific needs. It does not work for corporate to dictate identical targets across the Group.


The Otto Group won second place in the 2012 personnel management prize awarded annually by the German Association of Personnel Managers (Bundesverband der Personalmanager).


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