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Equal Opportunities

Contact us if you have questions about hiring processes, about combining work and family life, with problems like discrimination or sexual harassment, or if you have questions about equal opportunities at HZB.

About Equal Opportunities at HZB

We work under the equal opportunities implementation agreement (Ausführungsvereinbarung Gleichstellung, in German) for research funded jointly by the German federal and the state ministries, which is in turn based on the federal equal opportunities law (Bundesgleichstellungsgesetz).

This implementation agreement is adapted for the HZB (ger) and agreed with its funding agencies. It provides rules for the election of equal opportunities commisioners, the aims of our work, our rights of information and involvement in processes etc. It is complemented by a Gender Equality Plan which contains current statistics, target quotas for women in science, as well as measures to implement the targets.

Equal Opportunities in the hiring process

We are committed to taking the equal opportunity mandate of the German equal opportunities implementation agreement seriously, and to maintaining or increasing the number of female employees at HZB (especially in OU where women are underrepresented), and to reflecting diversity.

This requires your active support already during the advertising and recruiting phase because the Equal Opportunity Representative (EOR) must check the entire selection process for equal opportunities and should not only be involved during the interviews with the applicants.

Below, you will find our recommendations for the involvement of the EOR in hiring procedures at HZB:

As a rule, you will find the name of your responsible and to be contacted Equal Opportunity Representative in the Umantis shortly after the start of the advertisement. The EOR will sit in on the interviews, if time permits, and partakes in the hiring decision. The EOR have the right of appeal.

We therefore advise all those directly responsible for the hiring process to involve the EOR and her deputies as early as possible when scheduling the interviews (2 weeks in advance), i.e., no later than the application deadline, so that formal errors and resulting objections can be avoided.

Please provide the responsible EOR with all necessary information such as shortlist of candidates, ranking list plus selection criterion (evaluation matrix) and an explanation why female candidates have not been invited (all only if this information cannot be found already in Umantis).

Umantis offers the possibility of initial evaluation for different participants of the application process, which is visible for all with access to the tender. If you do not use this tool, please provide the EOR with other documentation, and thus give us the possibility to understand your evaluation criteria or decision for your short-listing.

It is helpful for you and for us to have an evaluation matrix for the interviews that shows how well each applicant meets the individual requirements for the position. You can find a sample template here.

-> To compare scientific output use the "academic age", i.e. years since completion of the PhD minus times for child care, care of relatives, illness etc.

In principle, the number of female applicants should be reflected in the number of applicants who are invited to the interview.

Since there are many calls for applications and related processes at HZB, the assigned EOR decides and informs in timely manner, which interviews she will attend, depending on the respective information she receives in advance.

During the interviews, the Equal Opportunity Representative has an advisory and reviewing role.

In the case of positions to be filled that deviate from the norm, such as short-term contracts for which less applicants are expected, particularly qualified candidates who have been identified prior to tender process, internal advertisements or other exceptional cases, the EOR must be involved as early as possible to be able to monitor equal opportunities in those cases as well.

Different interview formats (partly analog, partly digital) for one cohort should be avoided if possible.

The law mandates: In the case of equal qualifications, and if women are represented by less than 50% in the tendering OU, the female applicant is to be given preference.

According to German law the following circumstances cannot be used as criteria in a hiring process:  any career breaks, reductions in working time or the demands on time due to childcare or other care of relatives, the income situation of the applicant's partner, or the intention to reduce working hours or take career breaks due to family demands.

Combining work and family life

HZB offers its employees a range of measures to improve the work life balance:

  • flexible working hours and flexi time balance
  • agreements about telecommuting and home office
  • family friendly meeting hours
  • the possibility to reduce working hours due to family demands
  • nursery places
  • counselling and family-related agency services (benefit@work)
  • Helmholtz-school holiday program

For more details please contact the personnel department's Office for Work and Life (OWL), the contact person is  Anja Seehrich.

In cases of discrimination or sexual harassment

In these cases there are several persons of trust you can contact, such as the equal opportunities commissioner (Gleichstellungsbeauftragte), the works council (Betriebsrat), the antidiscrimination commissioner (Antidiskriminierungsbeauftragte), the personnel department or your manager. Here is a full list of persons to contact in case of conflicts.

The equal opportunities commissioner has a duty to keep you information confidential. If you come to us with a complaint, we will first have a confidential meeting with you, and will discuss with you how to proceed.

A helpful brochure Leitfaden zum Thema sexuelle Belästigung (in German) can be found at the Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes (Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency).

Maternity and parental leave

The equal opportunity commissioner will support you if you have any questions or in cases of conflict. A good source of information about employment rules for the protection of pregnant woment and about parental leave is the personnel department's Office for Work and Life (OWL)  (contact person Anja Seehrich).

Here are some further links (mostly in German)

(Mentoring) programs for women

There are several programs for women accessible for HZB employees, either internal or external via Helmholtz or the Berlin Universities:

Program Target group What is it?
HZB-Akademikerinnen-Auslands-Anschlusstellen-programm (HZB-3A)
Women Scientists who have recently finished their PhD and want to work abroad for some time.

The HZB-3A-program (Akademikerinnen-Auslands-Anschlussstellen-Programm=follow up contract for woman scientists after a stay abroad) is meant give scientists employment continuity after a stay abroad, by offering a follow-up contract for up to two years. This additional job security is meant to encourage women to continue their scientific career and to make it easier to combine science and family life. The follow up contact is funded by HZB management.

Profil-Mentoring Women scientists seeking a professorship (postdocs, young investigators, women who already have a "Habilitation" etc.)

The program helps participants with their career planning and prepares them for the leadership and management tasks of a professorship. It consists of mentoring combined with science specific seminars and strategic networking.