Website analysis: Only two of the 40 DAX companies gender consistently
Gendering triggers the wildest discussions among family and friends. As a content agency, we are therefore interested in how companies solve this in their website presence. That's why we already conducted an analysis on the topic in 2021: How do DAX 40 corporations gender? And, already curious, what results we came up with this year? This much in advance: After five companies consistently used the opposite gender last year, this year there are only two. Curious? Enjoy reading the second edition of our COCO Gender Website Analysis.
Are there more than two genders?
Germany is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes the so-called "third gender" in addition to the biological genders of man and woman. In this case, the identity card does not show m or w, but an x. This stands for people whose biological sex cannot be classified as male or female, such as intersexual people. Intersexuals are people who show variations in the physical sex development. Mostly, however, they assign themselves to one of the binary genders. It is estimated that about 0.2% of Germans are intersexual.
The biological and the social gender
Now, however, one also distinguishes between the biological sex, the sex and the social sex, gender, i.e. the one in which one sees oneself, independent of one's biological sex characteristics. Common and recognized here, in addition to male and female, are countless other genders. This is because everyone can define their own gender and not necessarily assign themselves to one gender or have to. There are, for example, genderqueer, gender variable, non-binary, transgender, pangender, XY-woman, cross-gender and many more.
In recent years, the following question has increasingly come up: Should all genders be included in our language, and if so, how? This question is causing even leading politicians to despair. At COCO, we are seen as Content marketing agency often confronted with this question. There are several ways to include all genders in texts or mentions:
To always list all genders is neither reasonable for the speakers nor for the listeners and even impossible. It was and still is clear that an uncomplicated solution is needed - and that's when the chaos started. There are, of course, many variants of gendering, but they can be summarized in the gender forms pair form, neutral form, form with special characters and form with inland I. We have given examples below.
Like last year, we asked ourselves the same question: How do the 40 DAX giants actually handle this challenge? Which companies attach importance to gender-sensitive language and who gender consistently or not at all? In the following, we explain the details of gendering on the DAX websites in more detail.
First, we define what counts as gendering in our study. There are many variants of gendering, which are more or less recognized.
Possible gender forms at a glance:
Pair form: such as customers; employees; ...
Neutral form: such as employees; staff; workforce; ...
Special characters: like employee; employee*in; employee:in; ...
Internal I: such as customers, employees; ...
The first two forms have been common for some time, but this is not quite the case with the others. However, they are already widely used in Germany and are also recognized as correct in our website analysis. A big difference between the various forms is whether they include other genders besides male and female. Paired forms and indented I only include male and female. The others depict all genders. Further explanations of "correct gendering" are available on Scribbr to read.
The methodology of our study is based on a point system. For this purpose, categories were defined which must be fulfilled in order to receive a point. The three categories are website texts, job titles and the use of the m/f/d form in job advertisements.
Website texts: The texts of the websites of the DAX 40 companies include headlines, body text, tabs, signposts and every other form of text. The entire website was analyzed, i.e. not just the start or career page. The groups received one point as soon as the analyzed texts showed no gendering errors as well as the website being free of the generic masculine. Terms in English were evaluated as gender-neutral.
Job Title: In the case of job titles, care was taken to ensure that the titles used in job advertisements were gender-neutral. For example, salesperson should become Verkäufer*in (saleswoman). Other gender forms or English designations were also given a dot. Important: DAX 40 companies only received one point if all job titles were consistently gendered.
(m/f/d): The (m/f/d) form is not required by law, but according to the AGG, employers must ensure that job advertisements are formulated in such a way that individual genders do not feel discriminated against. Abbreviations like these work well: (m/f/d), (w/m/d), (m/f/d), (m/f/x) and so on. But we particularly liked the variations (all genders) and (m/f/d/*).
Note: The law only stipulates that the job description must not exclude or discriminate against any gender. This means that it would theoretically suffice to either use a form of (m/f/d) or similar or to make the job title neutral (e.g. office administrator).
92.50 % gender with a form of (m/f/d) in job ads, so 37 out of 40 groups met this criterion
20 % of corporations have consistently counter-gendered job titles (8 of 40).
20 % of the groups have consistently written their entire website in a gender-neutral way (8 out of 40)
5 % of corporations scored in all three categories (Adidas and Siemens Healthineers).
67.5 % of the Groups scored in only one category
Munich Re failed to score in any category
In detail (attention spoilers):
With the help of the Key Facts of our analysis, statistical differences between the last and our current study are detectable. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, some other companies have been placed on the DAX list. Groups such as Puma, HelloFresh or Linde have been relegated and are therefore no longer in the list. On the other hand, Daimler Truck, Commerzbank and Porsche AG, for example, have moved up as the companies with the highest sales. Other reasons for differences to our survey in 2021 could be that last year words in the generic masculine were simply not discovered during the search, but this year they were. In addition, it is possible that the groups have worked on their website presence and thus their gender-neutral address.
The first difference: Instead of two, three corporations have now dispensed with the (m/f/d) form in their job advertisements. The former DAX 40 company Puma has been replaced in this category by Hannover Re and Commerzbank. Munich Re, whose website was already analyzed by us in 2021, remains with its original job titles without the recommended (m/f/d) form.
Another difference in the job title category shows an upswing. Since we conducted our last website analysis, there is one more group that uses gender-neutral titles. This means that a total of eight groups have been able to snatch a point in this category. In the future, the remaining 32 groups should pay attention to uniform job titles and, at best, uniformly counter-gendered advertisements.
In the website text category, eight of the DAX 40 companies received one point. In this as well as in the other two categories, attention was paid only to consistent gendering and not just to the attempt. Any error relating to counter-gendered terms resulted in zero points in the respective category. Some companies predominantly used gender-equal language, but gendered not consistent. In addition, the website texts of e.g. Airbus, Siemens Energy or QIAGEN are designed in English, which allows them to benefit from gender-sensitive language.
By meeting all the established criteria in the respective categories, the companies on the DAX list achieve a total of three points. In our analysis this year, only two of the DAX 40 companies achieved the full score through consistent gendering: Adidas and Siemens Healthineers. If the remaining 38 DAX giants would also like to be at the top of our list next year in terms of gender-appropriate language, the following is advisable: a lot can be achieved with little effort. The website presence should be consistently gone through and revised in the defined categories. Particularly in the case of job advertisements, this could make a big difference. Sooner or later, every corporation must ask itself the question of whether to move with or against the times.
Adidas: (3 / 3 points)
The world-famous sporting goods manufacturer is the first of the 40 DAX companies in our analysis and raises the bar very high. Adidas has developed well since last year and has consistently counter-gendered all of its flow texts and has thus complied with our criticism. On their website, gender-conforming terms such as "athleteinside", "Consumerinside" or "employees. Adidas is also far ahead of many others when it comes to job offers. The job advertisements are either written in English or counter-gendered in German. This ensures that all genders are addressed. One possibility for optimization is the use of neutral forms.The recommended (m/f/d) form can also be found in the job offers. The brand with the three stripes achieves the full score for consistent gendering in our survey.
Alliance: (1 / 3 points)
Even on the home page of the Allianz insurance group, groups of people are addressed in the masculine. Examples are: "driver", "pupil" or "employee". Gender-compliant terms for this include "driver", "student" or "employee". Therefore, there is still potential to be tapped in the area of gender-equitable addressing. In addition, job titles in job advertisements are not consistently gendered. Allianz does not receive a point in the categories website texts and job titles. However, the recommended (m/f/d) form is used in every job posting, for which the insurance group dusts off one point.
Airbus: (2 / 3 points)
No difference can be seen in the aircraft manufacturer's analysis in 2021. The website of the DAX giant is written in English. Therefore, the gender-equitable criteria are adhered to. However, it should be mentioned that there are German texts under the Public Affairs Berlin tab. On the positive side, it is noticeable that the groups of people mentioned are addressed in a gender-neutral form throughout. In the category website texts Airbus can clearly score. However, no points are awarded for the job titles, as the job titles in German are only given in the masculine form. The (m/f/d) form can be found in every job posting. Therefore, two out of three points for the DAX 40 company Airbus.
BASF: (2 / 3 points)
The world's largest chemical company by sales uses predominantly gender-conforming terms on its website. However, it has not consistently used the opposite gender. Under the careers tab, "career starters" and "students" are addressed only with the masculine form. When it comes to job titles, however, BASF can score points again, as they use both English and correctly gendered, German job descriptions. According to §1 AGG, therefore, no one was discriminated against. BASF therefore emerges from the survey with a total of two out of three points.
Bayer: (1 / 3 points)
Another chemical company with strong sales is Bayer. The Leverkusen-based company does not use gender-conscious language on its website. It is striking that even on the subpage "Inclusion and Diversity at Bayer" not all genders are addressed. In order to address all people regardless of their gender in the future, at least career pages should include gender-conforming language. However, the recommended (m/f/d) form is used in job postings. Compared to the survey in 2021, Bayer receives the same score: one out of three points.
Beiersdorf: (1 / 3 points)
The global consumer goods company Beiersdorf stands out positively in the website texts category. A wide variety of gender-neutral spellings and conversions with special characters can be found throughout the website. However, we discovered one or two errors during our analysis, which did not result in any points in this category. German masculine titles also stand out in the analysis of job titles. The company Beiersdorf secures one point due to the use of the (m/f/d) form in job advertisements. A modified form is used here: (all genders). Overall, this demonstrates a positive attitude toward gender issues. The Group is open to the use of gender-sensitive language, but could optimize its website presence in the future.
BMW: (1 / 3 points)
An examination of the Bavarian car manufacturer's website texts reveals that no gender-conforming language is used. With few exceptions, the masculine is predominantly used. Only the careers page stands out positively. In this, all the groups of people addressed have a counter-gendered form. In the case of job titles, attention is also not paid to gender-appropriate titling. Strictly speaking, the masculine job titles exclude other genders from BMW. The (m/f/d) form used by BMW speaks against this, which ultimately leads to a point in our analysis.
Brenntag: (1 / 3 points)
The website of the chemical distributor from Essen shows no improvement on the last gender analysis. In the website texts, counter-gendering is used sporadically, but due to the inconsistent use of gender-equitable forms, this does not lead to any points. The same applies to the job titles in the job advertisements. English, correctly counter-gendered as well as masculine job titles can be found. In the future, a standardization of these would be appropriate. However, the job advertisements are characterized by the use of the (m/f/d) form. This results in a total of one point in our website analysis.
Commerzbank: (1 / 3 points)
The German bank is once again in the DAX list and is thus again part of our gender analysis. We were positively struck by the correctly gendered job titles in the job advertisements. Commerzbank has dispensed with the recommended (m/f/d) form for this purpose. In addition, Commerzbank spares itself the use of gender-conforming language on website texts - with a few exceptions. The diversity and career section addresses all people regardless of their gender. This demonstrates openness towards all applicants.
Continental: (1 / 3 points)
The listed automotive supplier from Hanover is another group on the DAX list. In general, the website texts feature gender-neutral wording. However, with exceptions - masculine terms are often mixed in. The same applies to job titles. In addition to the use of English-language job titles, the masculine is increasingly found again. However, the use of (m/f/divers) addresses all applicants. All in all, however, this analysis results in only one out of three points. This corresponds to the same score as in the previous survey in 2021.
Covestro: (1 / 3 points)
The Group from Leverkusen shows a fundamentally positive attitude to gendering with its website presence. Covestro uses the neutral form of gender, but not consistently. There are isolated instances of non-gendered terms such as "student", which means that the company does not receive a point in the website texts category. The job titles in the job postings are also not characterized by gender-conforming titling. The variation of the (m/f/d) form used is positively noticeable. Covestro uses (m/f/d/*) to address all people regardless of their biological sex.
Daimler Truck: (1 / 3 points)
The Daimler Truck company, which emerged from Daimler AG, is a component of our analysis for the first time this year. The commercial vehicle manufacturer uses a striking number of word pairs on its website. One example is: "employees". In addition, gender forms with special characters can be found. Despite a predominantly gender-appropriate use of language, there is no consistent counter-gendering. Likewise, Daimler Truck does not use gender-neutral job titles, but addresses all people with the recommended (m/f/d) form.
Deutsche Bank: (1 / 3 points)
The majority of Deutsche Bank's website features predominantly gender-conforming terms. However, the DAX company does not receive a point in the website texts category due to individual groups of people not being gendered. The job titles, which can be found in the job advertisements, also mostly correspond to the masculine. However, Deutsche Bank uses the recommended (m/f/d) form. Overall, we give Deutsche Bank one point in our website analysis.
German Stock Exchange: (2 / 3 points)
The website texts of the German stock corporation headquartered in Frankfurt am Main stand out positively with counter-gendered website texts as well as tab designations. The neutral gender form, such as "the employees", was mainly chosen. However, the consistent use of gender language could also be worked on here. The DAX company rocked the two other categories. Firstly, the (m/f/d) form was used in all job advertisements. Secondly, all German job titles were correctly counter-gendered. Employee became "Mitarbeiterin", analyst became "analystin". Deutsche Börse moves with the times and receives a solid two out of three points according to our scoring system.
Deutsche Post: (1 / 3 points)
In our last analysis in 2021, Deutsche Post scored a proud three out of three. This year, too, the website texts feature gender-conforming language. On subpages of the website, however, there are non-gendered words such as "employee", which can easily be changed with the help of the neutral form. Particularly in comparison to the previous survey, Deutsche Post has deteriorated in terms of the job title category. The masculine is used in the majority of cases. Examples of this are: "letter carrier", "team leader" or "mechatronics engineer". The recommended (m/f/d) form is used in all job advertisements, which gives the company one point.
Deutsche Telekom: (1 / 3 points)
The German telecommunications giant, with a market value of around 106 billion euros, presents itself as predominantly gender-friendly on its website. However, non-gendered wording does not result in any points in the website texts category. The situation is similar for job titles. Gender-neutral language was not used for these either. Deutsche Telekom scores points in this category due to the use of the (m/f/d) form.
E.ON: (1 / 3 points)
The energy company, headquartered in Essen, operates a Diversity & Inclusion page on which, in contrast to the rest of the website texts, there is consistent use of the opposite gender. On this page, neutral wording such as "employees" is used in isolated cases. Due to the lack of uniformity, no points are awarded to E.ON in this category according to the defined scoring system. In addition to English-language job titles, masculine job titles stand out in the job titles. Therefore, as in the last analysis, E.ON receives one point for using the (m/f/d) form.
Fresenius: (1 / 3 points)
Fresenius, a medical technology and healthcare group based in Bad Homburg, Hesse, is increasingly using gender-appropriate wording in its website. On the other hand, a second glance reveals easily gendered terms such as "customers," "shareholders" or "students," which result in zero points in this category. In addition, with few exceptions, the job postings feature masculine job titles. However, the DAX company Fresenius scores one point in our website analysis due to its use of the (m/f/d) form. Compared to the previously conducted analysis in 2021, Fresenius scored one point worse.
Fresenius Medical Care: (1 / 3 points)
Fresenius' subsidiary is quite similar to its "mother" when it comes to gender issues. The website texts presumably contain gender-neutral as well as non-gendered terms. Fresenius Medical Care also follows the example of Fresenius when it comes to job titles. The (m/f/d) form, on the other hand, is used in job advertisements.
Hanover Re: (1 / 3 points)
The world's third-largest reinsurer is Hannover Re. Like many other companies, the Group has opted for both gender-appropriate and non-gendered designations. Because of this, Hannover Re's website texts have not been consistently counter-gendered. It is striking that even on the diversity page of the DAX 40 company, gender-neutral language was only used in isolated cases. However, thanks to their wording, the job titles on the job portal include all people regardless of gender. The (m/f/d) form was consequently dispensed with.
Heidelberg Cement: (1 / 3 points)
The building materials group, which now calls itself Heidelberg Materials, scores one point in our website analysis, like many other DAX 40 companies examined. This point goes to the third category: the use of the (m/f/d) form. Both the website texts and the job descriptions address groups of people in the masculine. In addition, neutral forms such as "employees" can be found in the website texts, but there is no point due to inconsistent gendering.
Handle: (2 / 3 points)
The consumer goods and adhesives group from Düsseldorf-Holthausen uses gender-appropriate wording in its website texts and makes sure to use the recommended (m/f/d) form. Just as in the last website analysis, the group only missed the 3/3 because of the non-gendered job titles.
Infineon: (1 / 3 points)
When analyzing the website of the semiconductor manufacturer from the Munich area, it is noticeable that the group deals with gender issues. On the website, most groups of people are addressed in a gender-neutral way. It is true that counter-gendering is used, but not consistently. This continues with the job titles. Infineon only scores in the category (m/f/d) form.
Mercedes-Benz Group: (1 / 3 points)
The Mercedes-Benz Group, formerly Daimler, is one of the largest suppliers of premium and luxury cars and vans worldwide. Their website texts contain neutral forms such as "employees", paired forms such as "employees", but also masculine forms such as "visitors" or "employees". Therefore, no point in the website texts category. The Mercedes-Benz Group also failed to score in the job titles category. There, only masculine terms are used in addition to English terms. The Mercedes-Benz Group gets one point for the (m/f/d) after the job titles.
Merck: (1 / 3 points)
The chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck has a modern and predominantly gender-conforming website. However, there are exceptions here as well, which are only in the masculine. For example, "employee." In addition to English job titles, the German job titles are not gendered. In addition, a difference is made here in the recommended (m/f/d) form. While the form "(all genders)" is used for English-language titles, the classic form is used for German-language titles. Overall, therefore, Merck scores one point less than last year.
MTU Aero Engines: (2 / 3 points)
The engine manufacturer from Munich is not only a pioneer in many technologies, but also in terms of gender. The only exception is the job titles, where no gender-conforming formulations are used. Instead, they score points in our analysis with the variant "(all genders)". In addition, MTU Aero Engines consistently uses gender in the category website texts. Thus, the group receives a solid two out of three points.
Munich Reinsurance Company: (0 / 3 points)
Munich Re could not score in any of the defined categories. It was striking that even on the LGBTQ+ event page, the term "participants" was used, and on the diversity policy page, the term "employees". There was no gender-conforming wording of any kind in the job advertisements - including the recommended (m/f/d) form.
Porsche AG: (1 / 3 points)
Porsche, the sports car manufacturer, is always at the forefront on the racetrack. When it comes to gendering, too? The group uses neutral terms such as "staff" or "students," but the website texts use the generic masculine form. In the job description, the job title is also only in the masculine form. However, attention is paid to the (m/f/d).
Porsche SE: (2 / 3 points)
Porsche Automobil Holding SE, headquartered in Stuttgart, is an investment company that frequently uses gender-appropriate wording such as employee or "Mitarbeiter/-in". However, not consistently: the word "shareholders", for example, is not counter-gendered. For job advertisements, we can award two points based on our scoring system. The job titles are written in a gender-neutral way and the (m/f/d) form can be found below.
QIAGEN: (2 / 3 points)
QIAGEN is the global leader in molecular sample and assay technologies. The website and thus the website texts have been written in English. Therefore, the texts are characterized by gender-conform language. In the German job advertisements, one finds both English and properly gendered terms, as well as terms that are specified only in the masculine. On the other hand, the (m/f/d) form can be found in every job advertisement. Therefore, the Group receives a total of two out of three points.
RWE: (1 / 3 points)
On the website of the energy supply company RWE, our website analysis reveals a colorful mixture of correctly gendered words such as "colleagues" and the generic masculine form such as "employees" or "engineers". In addition, the neutral form as well as the paired form is used. Furthermore, the DAX company does not score well with job titles. RWE only receives one point for the use of the (m/f/d) form.
SAP: (1 / 3 points)
In our 2021 website analysis, the software giant scored two out of three. This year, it's only one. Although the corporation often addresses all genders by using neutral forms such as "employee," it has not been consistent. The SAP company addresses potential job applicants with job titles that are partly in English, with or without the use of the opposite gender. Only the (m/f/d) form is used consistently.
Sartorius: (1 / 3 points)
Sartorius AG, a listed pharmaceutical and laboratory supplier, scores one out of three points overall in our study. Compared to last year, it is one point less. The reason for this are isolated terms in the masculine, which are distributed throughout the website. However, our analysis also found the neutral form of gendering, such as "employees". In spite of the opposite-gendered tabs on the careers page, the job titles in the posted job advertisements are in the generic masculine. Only for the (m/f/d) form is there a point in our analysis.
Siemens: (1 / 3 points)
Siemens filed around 2,500 patents worldwide in fiscal 2021. In total, the company holds more than 43,400 granted patents. Siemens' employees registered 4,483 inventions during the period - that's around 20 inventions per working day. To sum up: Siemens is the epitome of progress. When it comes to gender, however, the company does not consistently move with the times. On the Siemens website, there are one or two counter-gendered terms, but different gender forms are used. Due to this combination and our defined point system, Siemens cannot grab a point in the categories website texts and job titles. Due to the use of the (m/f/d) form, Siemens receives one of three points.
Siemens Energy: (2 / 3 points)
The Siemens subsidiary scores a total of two points in the ranking. The website is predominantly written in English. The few German pages are worded in a gender-neutral way. Meanwhile, the job titles in the job descriptions are only occasionally counter-gendered. Therefore, the energy company does not receive a point in this category. Instead, the (m/f/d) form is used, which ultimately addresses all genders.
Siemens Healthineers: (3 / 3 points)
Another Siemens subsidiary scored full marks in our analysis. The website texts were all formulated in a gender-appropriate way. A positive aspect is that the job titles in the job advertisements are also counter-gendered. Siemens Healthineers tops this by using the recommended (m/f/d) form. This means that applicants cannot be disadvantaged due to the design of the job advertisement.
Symrise: (1 / 3 points)
In the website texts of the fragrance and flavoring provider, the generic masculine is used in combination with isolated gender forms. However, due to the inconsistency of the gendering, Symrise does not receive a point in this category based on the scoring system. No points are scored in the category of job titles either. However, the recommended (m/f/d) form is used.
Volkswagen: (2 / 3 points)
Compared to the previous analysis in 2021, the car manufacturer from Wolfsburg again scores two out of three. The website texts predominantly use the generic masculine. However, Volkswagen scores highly on the job portal with correctly counter-gendered job titles as well as the (m/f/d) form. As a result, the DAX giant's job postings do not discriminate against any applicants in accordance with Section 1 of the AGG.
Vonovia: (1 / 3 points)
Vonovia predominantly uses the paired form in its website texts, but does not consistently use the opposite form. One example of the paired form is "employees". The job titles in the job advertisements are not used in the opposite gender. However, no person is disadvantaged by the use of the (m/f/d) form. Due to our defined point system, it remains at one point overall.
Zalando: (2 / 3 points)
And last but not least: Zalando. Zalando is one of the pioneers in gendering. With the exception of a few job titles that are not gendered (e.g., "salesperson," "warehouse clerk," or "janitor"), they were perfectly gendered throughout, according to our analysis results. They stood out positively with the special variant of the (m/f/d) form "(all genders)". In the body texts, the marketplace also relies on gender-appropriate wording. Zalando thus scores two out of three points overall.