Munich, Germany

Munich Lives Diversity

Landeshauptadt München

February 21, 2013

To mainstream intercultural integration, city leadership makes diversity training part of its institutional culture, city-wide

Photo Credit: City of Munich

In February 2008, the Munich City Council unanimously approved a policy of intercultural integration, emphasizing a resident’s right to equal access to core institutions such as education, labour market, housing, and health care. Among the list of essential principles, the city affirmed that “intercultural integration is achievable only if institutions adopt a policy of intercultural orientation and intercultural mainstreaming.”

That meant change for the city’s bureaucracy itself. With 30,000 public employees, Landeshauptstadt München is one of the largest employers in the region. Although about 35% of the city’s population has a migrant background, in 2006, only 11 % of public service trainees represented that population. Mainstreaming intercultural diversity in the city of Munich would mean leading by example.

Moving to an Intercultural Opening

Munich has examined the issue of integration for more than four decades. The  former Lord Mayor Jans-Jochen Vogel first described Munich as “a city of immigration” in the late 1960’s. In 1972 the city undertook  its first study of the impact of the growing foreign population on municipal services.  This resulted in the establishment of an immigrant advisory council, comprised of newcomers to Germany, in 1974.

In 2008, with its updated and newly-minted intercultural integration policy, the city of Munich started its program of  “Intercultural Opening” (Interkulturelle Öffnung) by offering a broad system of support to managers and staff through its social services department. Recognizing that the project would not succeed unless it had buy-in from all department heads, the new Office for Intercultural Work (Stelle für interkulturelle Arbeit) moved quickly to establish an Integration Task Force to address the individual needs of all municipal departments.

Today the Office works on developing the intercultural openness, or cultural competence, of the city’s ever-changing civil service, focusing on staff development. Each city department produces a strategic plan with tailored targets and implementation measures based on an initial strategy workshop and analysis of its diversity indicators. Munich’s intercultural opening program model includes cross-cultural training, benchmarks, a series of studies, assessment tools and, finally, assistance with recruitment and interviewing strategies for its HR personnel.


A critical part of the “Intercultural Opening”  project has involved developing a set of integration indicators to measure success. When the city published its first integration report, “Munich Lives Diversity” (“München lebt Vielfalt“) in 2011, over 3,000 people had attended cross-cultural courses. Significantly, the proportion of new trainees from a migrant background had also increased to 16 %, a significant step towards achieving the city’s goal of 20% by 2013.

Like other German cities, such as Hamburg and Bremen,  Munich has developed smart strategies for recruiting young people from a migrant background into the civil service. For example, when applying for trainee positions with the city, intercultural competence is promoted as a recognized skill and valued asset  to the city’s future workforce.

In 2012, specialist intercultural training for 600 firefighters and paramedics on the city’s front-lines was being scheduled. By 2013, all top managers will have received a cross-cultural training. To ensure their broader diversity targets are realized, 560 managers are also being trained to improve personnel selection procedures.


Making it Work for You:

  • Institutional change is always difficult. Work with department heads and managers to get buy-in for institution-wide organizational change.
  • Develop strategies, action plans and ways to measure success that can be tailored to each department's specific needs. Offer continuous support and feedback throughout the process.
  • Provide training opportunities, HR support and other resources for all employees.

Themes: Work, Diversity, Training

For this Good Idea contact:

Franziska Szoldatits, Landeshauptadt München
Fraziskanerstr. 8
München, Germany,
81 669