May 2021 has been designated »Diversity Month« by the European Union, highlighting the social, economic and political importance of diversity. At A1, we make a clear statement in our sustainable ESG goals to promote diversity by creating an inclusive work environment. Where it has already worked without any given targets, is in the A1 Group Marketing team. Florian Schwarz and his team tell us how to live diversity.

It is no longer a secret and numerous studies also prove: heterogeneous, diverse teams work more creatively, are more productive and more adaptable than homogeneous ones. In addition to the economic necessity, we also see a social responsibility to act sustainably in this context. For example, company-wide e-learning on unconscious bias makes even the most open-minded among us aware of where our blind spots lurk and preconceived notions steer our image.

Florian Schwarz

Since 2007, Florian Schwarz has been with A1 and has gained many impressions during his 4 years as head of Marketing at what is now A1 Macedonia. There were differences not only in the work due to the size of the company in Austria and North Macedonia, but also in the approach to things in the professional and private environment. It was eye opening for him that both colleagues and employees approached some things quite differently than in Austria – but in the end delivered the expected results.

As head of A1 Group Marketing since 2015, Florian has 14 team members who almost orchestrate a perfect mix of diversity. Partly grown and partly deliberately chosen, seven nations bring different cultural perspectives, as do the various educational backgrounds and age-related perspectives, and the gender distribution is also in balance. His approach is to act within his own sphere of influence and not necessarily to wait for guidelines.

»We are a diverse team that finds unexpected perspectives in every discussion.«

Florian, why is diversity particularly important in marketing?

Our customers are not all the same. If it were all native female digital natives or all male family men sitting here in Austria, then probably no one would be able to imagine what is important for a Serbian single mum. Individual expertise also comes into play here in particular.

Are there also challenges in a diverse team?

Of course, it’s not always easy to reconcile different expectations, value systems, ways of working and commitments. It is easier (as I know from my own mobilkom past) to organize an afterwork date for a bunch of under 30s. :-)

What do you particularly enjoy about your team?

I encourage open exchange within the team, which means that we can recognize our differences, »target« them, and laugh about them. :-)

What does a perfect team look like for you at the area and organizational level?

Different types with different weaknesses and strengths that complement each other. If they are all the same, there won´t be any discussions.

What else does our company need to ensure more diversity?

Diverse teams are sometimes more exhausting, but also more exciting. In my opinion, it would be important for the company to have greater permeability between our individual countries. To promote equality, I could imagine more commitment on the part of A1 in some countries with regard to childcare places. Otherwise, the managers (and perhaps also HR) need to be open to unconventional CVs. »Can a classical philologist initiate projects or new issues at a telco?«

What does diversity mean for you personally?

For me, diversity means openness and appreciation towards others, as well as an active search for other »concepts«.

Some team members get the same chance to have his or her say:

Marta: I like that everyone is equally accepted in our team. My contribution to our diversity: I am female, my heritage stems from three different nationalities.

Thomas: What I enjoy most about our team? We are helping each other in any possible way.

Sanja: Being part of this team is my personal cultural flight from Skopje to Vienna. In our team I learnt, that a single joke usually has so many different levels and diverse interpretations.

Richie: Our collaboration is special, because nobody cares about anyone’s background, where she/he comes from or his or her past. All is professional and working with pros. My spice to this team is the old school sarcasm.

Petra: As a team we are always seeking to contribute in the best possible way, with lots of openness and humor. I contribute with over 20 years of experience in marketing and controlling, bringing in pragmatic and analytical view, questioning critically.

Stefan: I appreciate the trust in each other and honest and open exchange in our team. I am open to everybody and treating everybody the same.

Maja: We are there for each other when needed, if you reach out help will be provided. My contribution to this team? I am an extraordinary tall female Croatian with a marketing background.

Cristiana »Cris«: Our collaboration is unique as we balance the right amount of space for everybody to move freely, but not too much to feel isolated. I contribute with Italian flavor – coffee and food. I love to share my experiences with those who are open for it. My motto is: »There is no challenge more challenging than deciding to challenge yourself«

We have different, complementary points of view, that’s what’s special about our team. An honest interest in different cultures in the team is important to me.

Florian Schwarz