Kari is a Bosch associate who truly brings the company values to life, always looking at how the world can positively progress and never afraid to challenge the status quo to make life better for others.
“We have an innovative and inclusive spirit at Bosch but the company and the wider world were in a different place in 2016, even compared to now, when it comes to understanding the LGBTQIA+ community. I made the choice to start transitioning that year, as I never felt comfortable in my body as a woman and something need to change. When I had the time to reflect during my 3 months sabbatical, I knew what I needed to do in order be myself, encouraged by my family and friends.
Swimming has always been something I’ve loved since I was a child hence I wanted to continue even though I was transitioning. That came with its own challenges, however my swimming club was very supportive and helped me through that phase.
Since making the decision to transition, I’ve been questioning why things are done the way they are - why do we need to have our gender on our pay slips for example? Why in most walks of life do we have to be Mr, Mrs, Ms? Just because things have been done a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean they need to be that way in the future and if they no longer have a place, then it’s worth looking at how we can progress and change for the better.
I’ve been with the business for 30 years now, but Bosch has been connected to my family for even longer - my Dad worked at the organisation too, back in Germany. I worked at Bosch in Germany from the early 90s, and moved over to the UK in the early 2000s.
As Bosch UK&I marks its 125-anniversary year, this feels like a fitting time to reflect on our values and how far we’ve come, even in the decades that I’ve been working with the business. In our roles, we pioneer progress for our customers – at Bosch we talk about “shaping society and transforming lives”. I believe as associates, we play the biggest role in this and it’s essential that the company allows transformation for us too, in a place that allows us to be our authentic selves.
It’s important to move with the times, and it has felt like Bosch is a safe place to pioneer change for associates - despite us working in a sector that is usually considered quite traditional. I’ve been driving change where I can and the company has been open to my suggestions, such as introducing gender-neutral bathrooms and the introduction of MX as a title. Suggesting updates like this will make the workplace a lot more inclusive for associates in years to come.
In my personal life, I’ve come up against many small battles to change my identity - having to go through the court system in Germany to change my official documentation and passport. Every step has been a challenge but it’s been very important for my journey. I’m proud of the work I’ve put in and where I am today.
Being the first person to tread a path is not easy - change often happens slowly and then all of a sudden, you start to see a shift. It’s my hope that by bringing to light the daily difficulties faced by people who don’t neatly fit the conventional boxes, the culture of an organisation changes – I can see this change across Bosch, with active support groups for the LGBTQIA+ community, and more people sharing their stories. Things can always be better, but it feels like there’s growing momentum and appetite at Bosch (and in the world more broadly!) to keep paving the way forwards.”