Gender-neutral language in German Companies

35 percent of companies in Germany use gender-neutral language for external communication, while only 25 percent adopt it for in-house purposes.

06.07.2021 · Economics, Social Sciences, Spatial Research · ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich · News · Research result

Just about one in three companies in Germany employs gender-neutral language. This is the finding of the latest Randstad ifo Personnel Manager Survey, which examined various aspects of diversity within companies. Those companies that adopt gender-neutral language do so predominantly for their external communications (35 percent). Only 25 percent use it within the company. “This finding is consistent across the economic sectors surveyed. But it also shows there is still much room for improvement when it comes to adopting gender-neutral language,” says ifo researcher Julia Freuding.

The difference is most striking among companies in the service sector. Of these, 37 percent state that they use gender-neutral language for external communications, while only 25 percent adopt it for in-house purposes. Manufacturing has the smallest gap, with 35 percent of companies using gender-neutral language for sharing information with the public and 28 percent for internal communications. “For us, communicating in gender-neutral language is an important statement of a diverse and positive corporate culture,” says Richard Jager, CEO of Randstad Germany. “By doing so, we send a clear message both within the Randstad Group and to the public that we value diversity in all its forms.”

Large companies employ gender-neutral language more often than small ones. Among companies with a headcount of more than 500, just under half adopt it – both for communicating internally (50 percent) and externally (48 percent). For companies with 50 to 249 employees, only 40 percent use gender-neutral language in their external communications; for internal communications, the figure is as low as 28 percent.

In recent years, diversity in corporate culture has become an increasingly important topic, especially among larger companies. For smaller companies, the focus on diversity has seen little change. In some cases, it has even lost some traction. Differences between the various economic sectors are negligible. Other topics covered in the survey included diversity in the workforce, inclusion, part-time management positions, and the impact that diversity management has on the company.

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