Thorsten Haber, personnel manager at the Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance Center in Maastricht.

Interview with Thorsten Haber

"Pride is all about showing that everybody is welcome".

During Pride Month, which is celebrated every June, the global queer community takes to the streets to march for acceptance and tolerance and against discrimination. We spoke to a colleague who came out many years ago: Thorsten Haber, personnel manager at the Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance Center (CAC) in Maastricht, the Netherlands. In this interview, Thorsten explains why Pride Month is important to him and why he outs himself anew every month at work.

When did you come out as gay to your colleagues?

I've always been very open about this at work – including in job interviews such as the one I had for my current role. I don't say, "Oh, by the way, I'm gay", I just tell people about my partner Julian and me.

Why did you decide to come out?

I don't want to be forced to hide who I am. I also realised that it is easier for me. It helps me to better weigh up the people I talk to and anticipate any potential negative reactions during future interactions. After all, we have to be realistic: I'm well aware that my coming out can sometimes be a challenge for the person I'm telling. Even in this day and age, many people still feel uncomfortable in the company of gay people. This is why I need the feeling of being OK with the people I work with daily. It also puts a stop to rumours and gossip. I'm happy that I made a clear decision to just do it. And I out myself anew every month at work.


As the personnel manager, it's my job to welcome new recruits to the CAC in Maastricht every month. I make a point of saying that I'm gay because I think it's important for the employees to know that it's OK to be part of a minority. I've often heard from others in the workforce that queer people are happy that I talk about it so openly. And we're not the only minority. Some are not emphasised as much. This is why it's good that initiatives like Pride and Diversity Day exist. We can't take everything for granted. And we are not all the same. This is why I try to make a visible contribution.

Have you ever experienced any negative attitudes from colleagues?

No, thankfully. Personally, I feel that the company has really got my back.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming out?

The first thing I would do is to find out more about the person's milieu and ask: "What's holding you back? What worries you in this regard?" Then I would encourage them and ask them, "What's the worst that could happen?" I would find out whether they are perhaps worried about being bullied or missing out on a promotion. And I would ask, "How many people do you think already suspect that you are gay? What kind of responses are you expecting from those who would find out?" I believe that when you come out, you regain a little control for yourself. You gain a degree of security. Because if you really do suffer bullying or discrimination due to your sexual orientation or identity, this will be more transparent to everyone and take place, so to speak, on an open stage. Everyone will know that someone is bullying you then. And this is a clear red line for the company: zero tolerance for bullying!

What can we all do for queer people?

We can simply accept people for who they are. We can ensure that they are involved, whether during work or the lunch break. We can show that it doesn't matter who we love or what gender we feel aligned with.

Mercedes-Benz will be taking part at numerous Pride parades again this year.

For me, it's important that we as a company and as individual employees take part in Pride parades and show that everybody is welcome, that we want to encourage the differences that we all have and use them to promote togetherness. The Pride events are not simply about having fun, as many people think, but are also demonstrations. This is why it is also important to show that although we have already achieved a lot in many countries, there is still much to do.

Is there a Pride parade of which you have especially fond memories?

I have been to many pride events with Mercedes in recent years and met so many amazing people – both queer and not queer – at all of them. It's always a great get-together, including with people from different locations. I would love to see the company raise its profile even more at Pride parades, including at those near our smaller locations. And I can only encourage everyone in the Mercedes-Benz team to get involved and be part of the parades. Then you'll realise all the more what it is that you stand for.

What do you wish for queer employees?

Nothing more than what I wish for everyone else, too. I want us all to get talking and keep talking – with each, not over each other. I want us to be open and honest in how we treat people and for us to respect each other. I want us to accept diversity and embody it more strongly. And I want us to be successful with these values, both as a community of people and as a company.

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