Tijen Onaran is a networker, entrepreneur, and founder of Global Digital Women (GDW), a company dedicated to empowering women and promoting diversity and digitization. In this interview, Tijen talks about what drives her and how she wants to shape a more diverse working world.
1. Tijen, you studied political science and worked in politics for several years, now you are a consultant and expert at conferences on topics such as diversity, social media, and employer branding. At what moment and why did you decide to make this career change?
Looking back, I can say that I have always been internally independent. For a long time, I simply did not realize that I could make a living with the ideas I already had back then. That is one reason why the emergence of Global Digital Women is also one that is organic and very natural. We started with a get-together that I organized alongside my employee job and as time went by the community grew and I realized that diversity and inclusion issues are crucial for the companies and those who were part of my get-together. What I do today is also a form of politics - because diversity issues are always political issues.
2. Networking is an important part of your everyday life. What do you need to bring along to be successful in networking?
There are different types of networkers. In my book “Network Bible” [Netzwerkbibel], I expand on this further. However, generally, you should first think about what you expect from a network. Am I looking for acquaintances, role models or do I want to present my brand to the outside world? Once these questions are answered, networking can start with an agenda. The motto is - quality before quantity!
3. Your motto is "Making the world more digital and female." Where do you see the biggest challenges for a digital and more feminine working world and how do you manage to change the world in this sense?
Without diversity, there can be no digitalization! For competitiveness with innovative ideas of the future, the working world cannot do without mixed teams. After all, from a business perspective, a company must respond to a diverse workforce. What better way to do this than to live out diversity within the company? In November 2019, Global Digital Women, in cooperation with the European University of Flensburg, published a study that supports this insight with data. The results of the study showed that diversity has an impact on digital literacy and that companies with women in management positions are more competitive. Our new motto is also "Making the world more digital and diverse". Simply because gender diversity can act as a catalyst for other aspects of diversity.
4. At the Global Digital Women Events, you will work in close cooperation with "ambassadors", i.e. ambassadors who stand up for your issues. What criteria do you use to select your GDW Ambassadors?
For me, every woman who comes to our events and carries the idea of GDW forward is an ambassador. Because all these women show: together you are always stronger than alone. It is great to see what kind of movement has developed with and around GDW in the last years; to see that and to work daily on diversity and inclusion is my daily motor!
5. You created the Digital Female Leader Award. What is behind this award and what is your advice for young people who are interested in diversity and women in the digital industry?
Every woman out there is a role model for another! This is exactly where our Digital Female Leader Award comes in, true to the motto: if you can see it, you can be it! In very different categories, women have the opportunity to apply for the award themselves or nominate another woman who is shaping digitalization. The leverage effect of this award is enormous: it is nice to see what career runs are possible through the enormous visibility of a nomination. Whether it is the appreciation by colleagues who are proud to have a nominated colleague, or participation in panels and establishment as an expert: the award sets it all in motion!
Tijen Onaran was a guest at WHU on October 29, 2019, and gave a lecture on the topics of social entrepreneurship and diversity as part of Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander's Bachelor lecture.