“We must stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes”

An interview with David Ortiz

Hamburg / 22 March 2021

At Siemens Gamesa, we are driven by our people - from over 100 different countries, they build the company we are each day. Diverse thinking, broad cultural diversity and a gender balanced workforce make us more innovative and creative. With racism on the rise in recent years, Siemens Gamesa is taking a firm stand against racism and racial discrimination. In line with the targets of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we aim to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination.
Head of Sustainability Communication
On March 21, 1960, the South African police opened fire in Sharpeville at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws.” Sixty-nine people were killed that day. Nineteen years later, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a program of activities to combat racism and racial discrimination, including the organization of a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination in all member states, beginning with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled, but racism and racial discrimination are still all too present in many countries.
We spoke with David Ortiz, Head of Human Resources for the Americas Region at Siemens Gamesa, about the role that businesses must play in creating the change necessary to eliminate racial discrimination, among other things.
David, can you tell us a little about your role at Siemens Gamesa?
As Head of Human Resources for the Americas region, I develop and implement "people" strategies that support our employees, our business and our work culture. The Americas region consists of 12 countries in North and Latin America.
Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
What role do you think business has to play in creating change that leads to the elimination of racial discrimination?
The business community must create an inclusive work culture
Racial discrimination is learned. It is not a condition we are born with. That is why the business community must create and inclusive work culture and work environments where we acknowledge and celebrate our differences. We cannot downplay the impact the businesses like ours have in the fight to end racism and racial discrimination, considering that our employees spend, on average, half of their day at work. That is why, as a company, we must call on each and every one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes – at Siemens Gamesa, in the wind industry and beyond.
What does Siemens Gamesa do to create a diverse workplace and to prevent racial discrimination globally and specifically in the United States?
When the legacy companies merged to form Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, we placed an early emphasis on creating an inclusive corporate culture called the Culture of Trust. It provides a platform for our employees of all genders and ethnic backgrounds to engage on issues they care about, such as LGBTI, unconscious bias, and coordinating events like Diversity Week, which took place in 12 countries worldwide in 2020.
For the Americas region, I developed a Best Place to Work framework in 2020 that identifies specific actions we will take to further promote a work culture that adds value to our employees' lives on more than just a base salary. To date, we have established Diversity and Inclusion Councils across the Americas and have conducted a pay equity analysis focused on markets, race and gender disparities. This framework will evolve over time, and I am proud to say that our employees are responding enthusiastically to our efforts.
We also took it upon ourselves, with the support of the Americas CEOs, to increase maternity and paternity leave to support our working parents at this very special moment in their lives. It is my philosophy that organizations cannot say we want to be industry leaders and then ask for benchmark data. Industry-leading means we are the benchmark.
And last, but not least, we are striving to be more diverse in our hiring practices and are now partnering with historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. as an important step.
Racial injustice was a prominent theme of social justice movements in the United States last summer. Did Siemens Gamesa address this when the issue came up?
We cannot limit ourselves to a product that strongly promotes the green energy transition and the fight against climate change; we also must run our business in a socially conscious and responsible way.

That is why we joined with other clean energy industry leaders last summer to release an industry statement acknowledging our responsibility to drive the change needed to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. The statement is a testament to our commitment to all aspects of our mission statement, which is "We make real what matters."
In addition, I'm proud that in 2020, we launched the first Diversity and Inclusion Council for Siemens Gamesa in North America - recognizing the recent social justice movements here in the United States. The senseless shooting of Asian Americans in Atlanta last week shows that our push for more action against racism is important and urgently needed.

We also must run our business in a socially conscious and responsible way
Why do you think we are now the catalyst for change? What was the pivotal point?
I think the pivotal point was when we saw racial injustice take center stage across all social media channels in the last few years. With the many social platforms available to us today, we saw how racial discrimination was thriving in the United States, and we had to decide as a company whether we wanted to actively participate in creating a better world for generations to come or stand idly by.
Employers everywhere were facing scrutiny with their employees, and we at Siemens Gamesa realized that doing nothing was a "choice," and that was not the choice we were willing to make.
Finally, why is eliminating racial discrimination important to you personally and professionally?

As a Hispanic male and first generation born in the United States, I too have experienced racial discrimination and know what it is like to when people don’t understand my upbringing or relate to my challenges.
As Head of Human Resources for the Americas region, I have the power to drive inclusion and change in the workplace - in my region, but also globally. To look back and have done nothing with that authority is something I would just be ashamed of.



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