Discrimination in Berlin Startup

Hey Elphas,So this is a sensitive topic. But, I want to put it out there in case someone else in this group has or knows someone that has experienced this issue. Have you or someone you know experienced racial discrimination at a German company?The reason I ask is, I am currently in the process of hiring someone to join my team and my line manager has repeatedly reinforced the following: " we need to hire a German national because they will know the system better". The role in question would be client-facing/commercial so German language skills are needed, but in my view this should not be limited to one being or not of German nationality (or any other DACH).I have also been stopped from progressing in my role and instead someone considerably less experienced, albeit German, was given the promotion. Would be great to hear your stories, and/or thoughts on this.Thank you.
Hey there! White American woman with only passing German fluency living in Munich for the last 3 years and I haven’t ever received any discrimination myself. Frustrating moments where “Germany fluency required” stopped me from applying to certain opportunities? Absolutely. But nothing concerning my nationality or gender that’s held me back. In some cases, the opposite. Some things which are unclear from your post:You say racial discrimination. If you’re a woman of color, then I can’t possibly speak to the additional issues you may be facing. As a white woman, I “pass” as being native (until I speak and reveal my American-ness.)Also, which industry are you working in? Your manager says a German would “know the system better.” This is likely true in industries like healthcare, government, etc. where you can safely assume that a native German is more familiar with those systems. If the company is offering a healthcare product, for example, I believe it’s 100% reasonable to “prefer” a native German with the expectation that they’ve interacted more regularly with the German healthcare establishment and thus have a more thorough understanding of the product space. Final note: In my company, we often hire native speakers for sales in the regions we’re aiming to serve. It’s easier to close deals. I’m also a better sales woman to American clients. I get them and they get me. More natural conversation and quicker trust building from shared experiences. This can be frustrating but it has been my experience.
Hi Chrissy, thanks for your reply. I am a white Portuguese woman, not fluent in German. The discrimination is not towards myself but towards the candidates I am bringing forward and proposing to my manager. Most of which are C1/C2 German speakers, but not of German nationality. For context, and thanks for pointing it out, "the system" is the German Tax system, and the industry I am in is Fintech. The role itself is a PMM ( prod marketing) role and doesn't require client facing responsibilities or copy deliverables, the latter can be covered by a copywriter. I had a quick sync with our talent person ( consultant/external) after posting this, he is of German nationality and reassure me that what happened was somehow borderline. And he was apologetic. Hopefully, this is not a trend to be expected in other companies/startups.Thanks again
I will piggy-back on Chrissy209's post here to second most everything she has written above. I wanted only to add that I have seen (in the few German companies that I have worked in) that German natives, -- generally white, generally male -- are the ones who are promoted. It is only anecdotal, but it is certainly something I have noticed at both the executive level and the dept head level.
totally agree with Rebecca. While I have not seeing people directly discriminating others. I have noticed that somehow most management is male and German and some roles are female and German :/ At least that's what happened at my previous company.
Thanks Rebecca, Britta35, yes, that's exactly what I am experiencing. It's good to hear other people have seen this too.
Constantly. I work in the automotive industry and the amount of racism and xenophobia that goes around in these offices is honestly quite... exhausting. I am lucky enough that my current immediate team is more progressive and we have people from all over but beyond that, I still hear people whisper and snark. We also had a really disastrous "diversity" blog post by our former Head of Strategy, who is *surprise* a white German man. Oftentimes, white German men are also more likely to get promotions and higher salaries. Women's dissatisfaction was also reflected in our latest Great Place to Work survey results.On a more personal experience, as a woman of color, people often question my "Americanness" and ask me to prove my identity by producing a passport (which is silly). Former bosses of mine also made fun of our Filipinx clients in front of me knowing that it would aggravate me (I'm Filipinx-American but also raised in the Philippines).
Thanks for sharing your story and experience, it helps put things into perspective and know there are others out there dealing with similar situations. I still remain hopeful with the right actions we can pave the way for the next generation of womxn. I am still trying to understand what those actions might be, but in the meantime, I try to call out on things i don't agree with.
Hi! Did anything change about your situation? I haven't logged onto Elpha in a while but that strikes me as clearly discriminatory and even illegal. If you need someone professional, free and confidential to talk to and maybe even advise on next steps, I suggest reaching out to the nonprofit OPRA, specifically Sanchita Basu, who specializes in such cases. I hope things are going better now...