I am all for celebrations: they give us an opportunity to regroup, highlight our achievements, and give credit where it's due. Certain celebrations, however, are more worthy of our attention than others, because they bring important issues into sharp focus and prompt us to step up our efforts – International Women's Day is one of them.
The event provides a fitting platform to celebrate women, highlight their great contribution to society, and recognize their resilience. On a more personal note, the event prompts me to reflect on the people who have inspired and supported me throughout my career, encouraging me to dare and believe in myself when I needed it the most.
But perhaps more importantly, International Women’s Day reminds us that there is still a long way to go before gender equality – where women and men have equal rights and equal access to opportunities – becomes the norm, rather than the exception. This year, we will be marking the celebration of International Women’s day differently: with the launch of new steps, our Gender Balance Acceleration Plan, to increase the representation of women in senior executive positions at Nestlé.
The right thing
Why are we doing this? Because we are convinced it’s the right thing to do. Diversity and inclusion are ideals that we hold dear – but they need to be more than just lofty ideals, and this plan will bring them to life even further. It’s an easy decision, too: the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace have already been widely documented. Research points to companies performing better when they have a higher representation of women in senior leadership positions.
Embracing diverse skills, cultures, ways of thinking, as well as different sources of knowledge and experiences, gives everyone of us the chance to be the best we can be. It makes Nestlé a more attractive place to work, which is critical at a time when competition in the industry is fierce. The next generations, too, won’t have it any other way – and it is just a matter of time before they enter the workforce.
Gender balance is a key component of Nestlé’s diversity and inclusion agenda – and for good reason. In many countries, women are still the ones influencing the purchase decision for our products. Women also represent a large part of the newly educated talent in the world today. In short, it is critical for us as an organization that women, and their views, be properly represented.
Taking a step further
To be sure, we are not just waking up to the issue today. Over the years, we have made good progress in becoming more gender-balanced. Today, women hold 43% of Nestlé’s managerial positions. With our Gender Balance Acceleration Plan, we are putting further emphasis on increasing the proportion of women in the group’s top 200 senior executive positions, from around 20% currently to 30% by 2022. This is another step in Nestlé’s journey towards gender parity.
The plan sets out a broad series of initiatives and clear goals to help advance our gender balance agenda and strengthen our inclusive culture. This reflects our commitment to providing equal opportunities for everyone at the company.
Going all in
Gender equality is a topic I have been passionate about for a long time. Now, as Head of Human Resources, I am strongly committed to driving this agenda forward. As I take on this healthy challenge, I know I have the full support of the entire management team of Nestlé. All understand that embracing women’s talents is critical to stay relevant to future generations, but also that it leads to greater innovation and agility. Ultimately, this will lead to stronger and sustainable business success – because diverse and inclusive teams simply perform better.
By delivering on this plan, we are not only staying true to our values, we are unlocking the potential of each and every person to position our company for even greater success – something that is certainly cause for celebration!