She’s Mercedes turns five

28.09.2020

Kerstin Heiligenstetter, Head of She's Mercedes, gives a speech.
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Kerstin Heiligenstetter, Head of She’s Mercedes, looks back at memorable encounters from the past five years.

The idea may have been a little bold, coming from a car brand whose products are largely considered to be part of a man’s world: create a vibrant place for women, in which they can connect and exchange ideas, but also learn about their understanding of mobility. However crazy it may have sounded – five years ago, my colleagues at Mercedes-Benz and I did just that. In September 2015, we launched She’s Mercedes, an initiative dedicated to inspiring, connecting and empowering women worldwide, thereby creating a dialogue that transcends cultures, industries and experiences. Why did we do that? For one, because respect and diversity are elementary principles for Mercedes-Benz. And also, because we believe that the power of inspiration can achieve outstanding things, especially when connecting people.

A group of women take their dogs for a walk in a mudflat.

Sure, it would have been easy for us to develop a single marketing initiative, targeting women to – putting it bluntly – get them to buy more cars. But that was not our aspiration. Instead, we wanted to create an initiative that put the wishes and needs of women first. We wanted to foster female empowerment and build a network in which women exchange ideas and experiences across industries and cultures. We wanted to meet powerful and inspiring entrepreneurs, innovators and artists, and listen to their stories.  

Moreover, we also aimed to foster this attitude within Mercedes-Benz: through sales training and new ideas for retail and service, but also by generating awareness and visibility for women in mobility. This way, we wanted to breathe life into one of my favourite quotes by Katharine Hepburn: “If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behaviour.” And so, She’s Mercedes was born. Who would’ve thought that only five years later, we’d see dozens of activities in more than 70 countries?

Why do I love She’s Mercedes so much? It’s the projects – and the people.

I could fill hundreds of pages with wonderful stories about the fascinating encounters and thought-provoking conversations of which I’ve had the honour to be part of, thanks to She’s Mercedes. Such as the 2017 Mille Miglia, one of Italy’s most beloved classic rallies, where ten members of our community proved that the passion for racing is far from being a male thing – even though many people still tend to think it is.

A group of women in a Mercedes-Benz G-Class driving on the road.

I am also happy to look back at our participation in the me Convention – an annual future lab born out of a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and South by Southwest® (SXSW®), which is all about taking action to explore promising ideas for society, business and the future of our planet. We created various networking opportunities from 2017 to 2019 in Frankfurt, Stockholm and Austin, bringing together women from all over the world and listening to their ideas on the future of mobility, social sustainability and female leadership.

Two of my absolute career highlights were the opportunity to be part of Lufthansa’s Flying Lab on International Women’s Day 2018, where I talked (at an altitude of 40,000 feet!) about the challenge of enabling mobility for women worldwide.

The second was hosting the SXSW® x She’s Mercedes Dinner with Gwyneth Paltrow in 2019. Being a perfect role model for the power and skills of women, she embodies the very idea of our community.

I cherish so many other memories, such as organizing driving events with Mercedes-AMG and educating our international training staff during our annual sales training conferences.

However – and I cannot stress this enough – I am most grateful for the many encounters when women of all ages and backgrounds told me that She’s Mercedes has had a real impact on their lives, and empowered them to change it for the better – for instance by inspiring them to start their own business. These sorts of encounters show me and the entire team at She’s Mercedes that what we’re doing – and what we believe in – has a real impact. Those are the moments that matter most to us.

The strongest lever of She’s Mercedes is the power of our community.

This year, we’re celebrating five years of She’s Mercedes. But let’s be clear – we’re not here to celebrate ourselves. Instead, we’re celebrating something much bigger and much more important: our community. Our goal for the weeks ahead is to put this community in the spotlight. To give the powerful and inspiring women of our She’s Mercedes community the visibility and the awareness they deserve.

One aspect of She’s Mercedes is to gain brand relevance among women. But it has always been much more than that, and I am so proud of what we have achieved already. We have created a global community in which women from all around the world empower each other – a community in which women are lifting each other up every day. And it is this very community which I have learned to love and appreciate in the space of half a decade. Because I keep thinking: If I empower her, she’ll pay it forward. In fact, this is the story She’s Mercedes wants to tell. In order to move the community forward, I need to empower the woman next to me. Because I could be her. Because, to put it figuratively, She’s all of us.

Retelling some of the stories from the She’s Mercedes community in the weeks ahead will shed light on the many things the initiative has already achieved. Of course, we will also add a few new faces and voices to the community and introduce two formats that will help strengthen and grow the incredible She’s Mercedes community. I don’t want to give away too much now – but we will see loads of exchange, dialogue and discussions. In the meantime, I am delighted about the many birthday wishes that have reached us from some of our most enduring friends and companions – they too underline that She’s Mercedes is here to stay.

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Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 28.09.2020.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.