Diversity opens the borders to love
When Alfons Mueller moved to the U.S., it was a dream come true for him. It is a perfect example of how openness and diversity can help transcend borders. His employer, Bosch, fully supported him in making the move, and it is committed to diversity at the company.
Diversity is firmly embedded in Bosch’s DNA. This is something that is really important to Alfons and something he actively supports as well. Alfons, who is openly gay, has lived in the U.S. with his husband Robby since 2022. As Global Website Manager for Bosch Power Tools, he has a strong network that spans the world. Along with that, his commitment to the LGBT*IQ community gives him deep insights into diversity at Bosch. Diversity comes second nature to the company. Bosch works hard to ensure that every associate feels comfortable about who they are. Diversity, equity and inclusion create a workplace atmosphere where everyone can express their true self.
From Germany to the U.S.
He originally planned to stay in the U.S. for only a brief time. The short-term assignment made it possible for him to transfer to a different Bosch site for six months. Alfons Mueller had always dreamed of an opportunity like this. Go out and explore, see new faces, get to know the teams in the U.S. in person. At that time, he had no idea that this decision would change his life completely. In Chicago he met and fell in love not only with the country and its people, but also with his now-husband Robby — the latter at the final game of the NFL season in 2020. “During my time over there, I realized that I wanted to stay in the U.S. — Bosch helped make this happen,” says Alfons Mueller. The agile team constellations at Bosch allow transitions like this, even across seven time zones. “I went back to Germany to clear out my apartment. But then life laid a roadblock...” That would be COVID-19. During the pandemic it was much more difficult for people without a U.S. passport to enter the country. Alfons Mueller’s dream seemed like it was over before it had really begun. But neither he nor his associates in Human Resources at Bosch would let that happen. After nearly a year and a half of hard work to obtain a work permit and visa, his dream would come true after all.
Alfons Mueller, 43
Digital Marketing Specialist in Mt. Prospect, Chicago, IL
Alfons Mueller grew up in the small town of Blaichach in the southern German region of Oberallgäu. His first job was working in production at Bosch during his summer holidays. He attended a vocational business school in Koblenz. Alfons has been back at Bosch since 2017, where he serves as Global Website Manager. He lives with his husband Robby in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Coming out was easy
Alfons Mueller had first-hand experience with the warm and open working environment that is typical for Bosch in Germany. That was also the case the first time he met his new team in the U.S. “We went around the circle and everyone introduced themselves. You know the drill. I said that I was living with my boyfriend,” he says. No one batted an eye. He wants to pass on all the positive experiences he has gained over the years at Bosch and encourage queer associates: “I don’t want to force anyone to come out. But if you want to, look around the team. There will be people who will help you.” There is also strong support every year for Pride Month in June. More and more Bosch sites are flying the rainbow flag on their buildings as a sign of support and to let everyone know that diversity is valued here.
Strong voice within the team
Bosch also relies on trusted advisers to ensure this strong sense of unity at the workplace each day. They listen to what their colleagues have to say and stand up for their interests when further discussion is needed. “The topics range from the coffee from the vending machine being cold to personal issues an employee may be facing,” says Alfons Mueller. It was clear to him that he wanted to become a trusted advisor at Bosch. The topic of diversity at the company is particularly close to his heart. “If decisions in the company are accepted without anyone speaking up, change will never happen,” he says. The management team at Bosch is well aware that HR decisions at a company in the 21st century must be discussed and scrutinized. In a modern corporate culture, transparency is just as important as diversity. “The Management has always responded well to my questions,” Alfons Mueller says.
Bosch lives diversity
There had always been lively exchanges about the work at Bosch, the company, and the decisions it made anyway. The LGBT*IQ community and its supporters are organized at Bosch in the b:proud employee network, which offers the possibility for informal exchange. It is also a platform where members can plan after-hour meet-ups as well as local and larger events and connect with other b:proud groups across the globe.
More than 400,000 people work in the open and global world of Bosch worldwide. It is normal for there to be disagreement whenever different world views and ways of life come together. However, the discussions are always open and fair, with everyone treating each other with respect. “It’s a positive sign that these discussions are taking place. I would hate to have a culture of silence where controversial issues are swept under the carpet,” says Alfons Mueller.
Taking a clear stance
Queer lifestyles are becoming more visible, and more and more companies are taking a stance on the pride movement. How they do this is something that the LGBT*IQ community is watching closely. “I’m glad that Bosch isn’t just showing the rainbow flag in countries where this is acceptable because everyone else is,” says Alfons Mueller. Instead, the company relies on strong communication and clear signals, even in countries with more restrictive policies. “Diversity enriches our company. That is why I stand up for the belief that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity should have no place at the workplace,” stresses Filiz Albrecht, Member of the Board of Management and Director of Industrial Relations at Robert Bosch GmbH.
“Invented for life” is a motto that requires a team effort to live up to — with all the diversity that life has to offer. The fact that it is lived and breathed every day at Bosch is down to its many committed associates — and the company’s clear compass of values.