Internationalization and a change in mentalities

The different opportunities open to women at work became apparent in the course of Allianz's internationalization, too, as mergers of companies in other countries brought different corporate cultures together. In France, for example, it was much easier for women to combine family and work: here, the number of women in work has been far greater than in Germany since as early as the 1960s. Additional impetus came after 1989 from the former socialist states, in which more than 90 percent of women were in full-time employment.

Rita Steinke, Heidi Trompetter, Jaqueline Fehse and Sylvia Höter (from left to right) from Deutsche Versicherungs-AG (DV) at a training course in Hamburg: more than 90 percent of DV‘s employees were women. (1991)

The establishment of Deutsche Versicherungs-AG as the successor of the East German state insurance authority (Staatliche Versicherung der DDR) allowed Allianz employees to experience the "little differences" close up, especially in sales: all of a sudden, a large number of women were picking up the prizes for the best agents in the elite agents' "Heß-Club" association at a time when the sales force in the former West Germany remained a male domain. Although the proportion of women working as sales staff in Eastern Germany has since fallen, it remains above-average in a nationwide comparison.

Promoting women has become a key social policy issue over the past decade, as is shown by a campaign launched by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs in 2001 on reconciling work and family life. The 2007 reform of the Federal Childcare Allowance Act (Bundeserziehungsgeldgesetz) allows parents to handle childcare with more flexibility. Thanks to the regulations governing parental leave, it is also easier for fathers to play a role in raising their children. The aim is that women and men should no longer have to choose between a career and children. The rising number of men taking parental leave at Allianz points towards a change in mentality and shows that, in an increasing number of cases, women and men are equally committed to combining family and work. A look back at what has been achieved to date shows that real progress can only be made if a change in mentality can be brought about.

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