Company & Culture - May 26, 2023

“I love the diversity of people.”

Manon Smulders is a mother, a businesswoman and aims to empower people around her every day as she works with 14 countries. She speaks about her international role and explains why the topic of diversity is so close to her heart.

Manon Smulders
You've been with Bechtle since 2008 and currently work in the International Business Unit as Head of New Business Development. How would you describe your job?

Sometimes I call myself the spider woman in the web, connecting all the dots. The main goal is to build and maintain the international business community across Europe. We need to ensure that there is a clear understanding what both New Business and International Business mean, that our sales teams receive proper training, and that communications platforms are up to date.

In addition to your central tasks, you are also committed to the topic of diversity in its various dimensions.

I work on the OneBechtle spirit on many different levels. Beside my main tasks I support in an active way diversity at Bechtle like being a part of our Diversity Communities pride@bechtle and women@bechtle. Furthermore I have the chance to spread the word on the #IAmRemarkable workshops in Europe, which is all about learning how to talk about one's own achievements.

These sound like great tasks - what benefits do you get from your involvement?

I love it. I love the diversity of people. Not only concerning culture but characters, languages, and temperament. I am talking to men, women, colleagues who have the age of 50 and so much experience but then also to a colleagues in Europe, who just came out of college or university with. It is refreshing to hear their ideas. I love the diversity and being able to interact with people from 14 different countries.

Can you define a personal key moment concerning diversity at Bechtle?

Definitely. It was 2021 on International Day against Homophobia. Bechtle published a huge banner with a rainbow flag and logo: “Mixed Teams shine the brightest”. I had to let that sink in. When I first saw that, I was like: Oh, what is happening there? I needed to let it sink in. I thought, finally a statement from Bechtle. Seeing that flag triggered me to write a post on LinkedIn. In the morning, my first thought was to delete the post. When I started checking LinkedIn, I saw so many positive reactions. It took me by surprise. I wrote a second post stating that it felt like coming out again. 

What happened in the meantime?

A lot. We have established Women@Bechtle and Pride@Bechtle communities. Bechtle is actively promoting awareness among all employees, addressing ingrained biases and encouraging them to reevaluate their own perspectives through Unconscious Bias trainings. Through initiatives like #IamRemarkable and Working Out Loud #EmpoweringWomen, Bechtle is amplifying the presence of women within the organization. These efforts have yielded tangible results, as evidenced by Bechtle being honored with the DE&I Mover 2022 award by ACI Diversity Consulting.

How was the experience for you as a gay woman within Bechtle?

I can imagine working in a culture where people don´t accept who you are, is hard. Of course, there were jokes sometimes, but Bechtle has a great culture, and I had the luxury to always work in open-minded teams. Nevertheless it was not an easy step for me to do this interview. But I thought if I only inspire five people to start talking, to spread the word that it is ok to be who you are, it would be worth it. So, keep an open mind, don’t judge people based on their gender or sexuality but only consider individuals based on who they really are.

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This post was published on May 26, 2023.