“Bayer says diversity”: A DE&I campaign in Korea gets people talking
Being people-oriented and inclusive is part of our brand personality at Bayer. The Korea team brought this to life with an interactive campaign focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, and how we can enact it through the language we use every day.
At Bayer, we are unwaveringly committed to continuous improvement, fostering an inclusive and sustainable culture, and enriching people’s lives through the way we work and the solutions we deliver. To do this, it’s essential that we enable each Bayer colleague to grow and perform to their full potential. They deserve a working environment that ensures safety and equity, and respects and values everyone’s unique experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives.
Bayer has established diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) as long-term objectives. Within these, a wide array of activities take place to ensure we meet our high standards and make a positive impact on our customers and employees. One particularly inspiring activity took place in Korea in October, which is Global Diversity Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, the Korea team ran an internal campaign to foster DE&I, focusing on ‘our words in our daily lives’.
This was based on the powerful concept that we can realize our DE&I aspirations through the everyday interactions we have, including the language we use. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Language is not only a basic communication tool: it also reflects our thoughts and forms an important part of our culture. Our words have a huge impact on how inclusive we are. Therefore, the Korea team focused on language during a three-stage campaign.
The teasing phase
Under the headline of Respect: for Better, the campaign was based on the key message “Bayer says diversity". This is aligned with Bayer's overall DE&I mission statement: “Bayer acknowledges the value in each individual, providing equal opportunities, and emphasizes that the collective sum of all values is a crucial factor for success.”
To activate the campaign, the Korea team started by developing teaser content, including information on Global Diversity Awareness Month and Bayer's commitments to DE&I values. These were shared via digital signage for two weeks before the start of October, raising awareness of both the month and our targeted DE&I campaign.
The campaign launch
It’s easy to assume that the everyday words we use are ‘neutral’ or have universal meaning that is the same for everyone. But in fact, language is highly subjective and can reveal biases or preconceptions. This can happen unconsciously, even in well-meaning communication.
For the launch phase of the campaign, the Korea team researched the discriminatory use of language on a national level, and found that examples regularly occur between generations or genders, or when addressing disability.
They used this information to create a virtual quiz, which took place on the Knowledge Farming platform on October 10, the day following Hangul Day (Korean Alphabet Day). The session included a listening test to identify words with discriminatory meanings used in conversations, and a word puzzle game to find out discriminatory terms and nuances. For each non-inclusive term, they then offered a preferred expression that delivers inclusive intent without losing meaning.
By using practical examples that we can easily encounter in daily life, the campaign encouraged colleagues to reflect on their own everyday use of language and how they can choose inclusive words.
Cultures are different, inclusivity is the same
It’s interesting to compare how different countries, languages or cultures have their own phrases that can communicate certain attitudes. Some of them are specific to a certain language while others have equivalents in different languages. That’s why it was so important to run this campaign on a country level.
For example, in Korean, Jurinee is an expression for people who have just begun to invest in the stock market. This word is a portmanteau of Jusik (stock) and Eorinee (kids). Here, ‘kids’ is used in a derogatory sense, which implies a certain attitude towards the target group.
Another example is the traditional word for a baby stroller, Yu-mo-cha, which literally means ‘mommy stroller’. This implies the assumption that only the mother is responsible for parenting – so, for a more equitable phrasing, we can change Yu-mo-cha (mommy stroller) to Yu-a-cha (baby stroller).
English has its own examples, such as the words ‘boomer’ and ‘zoomer’ that are often used to imply disrespect across generations.
Many examples such as these were included in the quiz the Korea team put together.
After the virtual quiz, the Bayer DE&I key messages and quiz content were posted on digital signage to reinforce the message.
Colleagues said it was an eye-opener for them. "I’ve never realized that I had been using discriminatory words,” one said. “After the campaign, I’m making a conscious effort not to use them.”
Another colleague said: “I’m grateful for the campaign. It was a good opportunity to remind me that discriminatory words can be used unconsciously, not just deliberately.”
Finally, the campaign also took on an external aspect. The Korea team issued a press release highlighting Bayer’s DE&I commitments as well as this campaign. The media showed interest, and in total 31 articles were published. All helping position Bayer as a DE&I leader and supporting our commitment to ensuring an inclusive, equitable and positive workplace, in every sense.
“Through this campaign, we hope to create a culture of mutual respect and inclusivity regardless of backgrounds such as gender, age, or disability, in line with Bayer’s DE&I aspiration,” said HyeRan Kim, Communications Manager in Korea.
“The Korea team highly understand and support our DE&I values and are continuously striving to meet them through campaigns such as this one.
DE&I at Bayer
Bayer considers each employee’s unique identity as one of its most valuable assets. We strive to create an inclusive environment regardless of gender, age, race, or background. In 2021, we globally announced our Inclusion & Diversity Aspiration 2030. In addition, Bayer has many internal programs and groups related to diversity, such as GROW (Growing Representation & Opportunities for Women) and BLEND (support for LGBTQ+ employees).
Bayer has been selected for Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index for four consecutive years, solidifying its position as one of the world’s leading companies in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is a result of setting ambitious DE&I commitments and driving these globally.