WALK, DON'T RUN. CHRISTINE UPDATES ON OUR D&I PROGRAM
When Christine Kalkschmid, an experienced expert for Diversity and Inclusion and Team Development joined CANYON//SRAM Racing at the start of 2021, one of her first comments was that the team should walk not run; her work after all, is a long-term project.
Christine says, “Team Development and D&I are both marathons—or more like stage races—and I am super grateful that Ronny Lauke (Team Manager) accounted for that right from the beginning.”
“It is important that there are no quick fixes. Equipping the team with the respective knowledge is not the issue. However, applying it and making it part of your natural habit takes time, practice and persistence.”
Previously working as a lawyer in financial services, Christine is also a former professional rower and says that although cycling has always been a passion of hers, professional cycling is something totally new.
“Pro cycling, of course, is a totally different story. It is super exciting to now be part of a sport that I have watched on television for so many hours. I admit I’ve watched more women’s bike races since joining CANYON//SRAM Racing than I have watched in my whole life altogether. I benefit from all team members patiently answering all my rookie questions during the training camp or even in the race car. Though I try to keep my questions to the minimum during race days!” laughs Christine.
Working with the team at training camps and attending races during the season, Christine says is helping expand her knowledge of women’s pro cycling and the team’s inner mechanics. It is also enabling her to continuously refine and implement the team’s Diversity and Inclusion program over the course of the next three years.
“A lot of things that are important for team development and performance in general are independent of the sport. Things like communication, roles within the team, emotional needs, values, trust, etc. follow the same rules in most high performing teams.”
“However, it is very important for me to understand the sport and the demands the riders have to meet and, even more so, get to know all team members, to be able to adapt this general framework to the specific situation and the requirements of the team. This applies to the day in day out situations as well as to high pressure race days.”
“It is also very important to acknowledge the importance of trust. Discussing very personal things like core values and beliefs, or emotional needs require a lot of trust. This is something I had to build with the team first in order to be a trusted advisor to the team.”
A 3-STEP PLAN: LEARN, GROW, CHANGE.
The Diversity and Inclusion program started with all team members at the training camps at the beginning of the year to gain momentum and to drive the topic forward. The program not only includes measures to create awareness and continuing education on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion but also personal and team development as well as long-term strategic consideration like the positioning of the team, and development of hiring diverse talents.
“We have a three-step plan to tackle the topic of D&I over the next three years,” explains Christine.
“In 2021, our focus is on learning. During this year, my main goal is to educate about Diversity and Inclusion, to provide understanding, to teach the value of differences and to show how different characters, strengths, experiences and viewpoints can complement each other for the benefit of the team, the sport and beyond.”
“Here, we have already taken big steps with several D&I training sessions and discussions on various focus topics. The way the team now questions things that used to be normal for them and sees things differently shows me how they reflect on what we have discussed and that they are really interested in learning more about it.”
“Our focus in 2022 is on growth. Our goal is to develop and foster talents and to become more diverse and inclusive as a team. As of 2023 we want to take D&I in cycling one step further by leading the change. By the end of 2023, we want CANYON//SRAM Racing to be accepted and viewed as the role model in terms of D&I that has the power and uses it effectively to change the world of women’s cycling for the better.”
Christine hints, “Spoiler: a major stepping stone that lays the foundation for our future goals will be announced shortly. It is a huge step to make the sport more diverse and inclusive by developing and fostering promising talents from all over the world.”
With the work of Christine, CANYON//SRAM Racing has renewed its vision, mission and team values, all of which can be found here on the team’s website.
“I found it exciting to see how the team has opened up with every new meeting,” says Christine.
“The discussions got livelier and people started to share more emotions and personal insights. The discussion around the core values and personal beliefs of every team member that laid the foundation for the team value statement was my personal highlight. I felt how proud the team was of the result and every single person in the room identified with the team value statement we developed together:
“United, we stand for respecting our differences, support and trust one another and persevere towards our ambitions.”
Christine’s work for CANYON//SRAM Racing has included several conversations with other D&I experts from the team’s partners at Canyon, SRAM and Zwift, as well as organisations such as USA Cycling, and has led to becoming a consultant to the newly created RIDE (Riders Inspiring Diversity and Equality) organisation.
“I am super stoked about the reach and that people contact me because of my work with CANYON//SRAM Racing. During my various discussions, I met a lot of amazing people that are passionate about D&I. Each of them, or the organisations they represent, are at a different starting point but all have the goal to change not only their organisation but also the sport of cycling.”
Both Christine, and team chef Alan Murchison were announced in January as new staff members of CANYON//SRAM Racing in 2021. The team will also provide an update with Alan and chat about his work with the team, including at the recent ten-day stage race, Giro d’Italia Donne. Stay tuned!