That competency has no gender may sound obvious, but the truth is that there is still inequality on the labor market – and (surprisingly enough!) it is not to the advantage of women.
Competency has no gender. It has no ethnicity, no age and no color. Competency is human capital achieved through education, experience and training. I would like to be able to stop here but there is still a need to reinforce this obvious fact.
The truth is that research shows that companies are more profitable employing a mix of men and women. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company gender diverse companies are 15 percent likelier to earn more than their competitors. To me it is a no-brainer – a mix of experiences, strengths, competencies and perspectives is of course more effective. In my own management team, we are five men and five women. The gender balance in Global Operational Services, the unit that I am responsible for, is distributed in the same way: out of nearly 2000 people, 960 are women.
In a perfect world there would not be a need for International Women’s Day. In Essity, International Women’s Day is every day. We work towards gender equality in several ways by breaking taboos around incontinence and menstruation and sharing equal perspectives around cleaning and hygiene tasks at home. Creating a dialogue and awareness around the role of hygiene is hugely important to eradicate gender stereotypes.
However, a few years, ago, we realized that there are more men than women working in IT. To increase gender diversity, we established a four-month career development program called Women in IT (WIT) with the aim of encouraging female employees in Essity IT. The program is very popular and filled with motivating sessions, practical exercises for soft skills development, inspirational senior colleagues' examples, networking, individual coaching and mentoring as well as sessions from Essity top management. Our President & CEO, Magnus Groth, held a much-appreciated session for the participants last spring.
To me personally it has been a great joy to follow these women in their continuous career and the program continues.
Sofia Esteves participated in the first WIT program. She is now IT Director Project Management Office and responsible for a big team and several large projects globally. “The program was very valuable and equipped me to be more forward, take on bigger responsibilities and challenges.
My advice, for anyone recruiting, is really to avoid recruiting people that are like them. We all do that, even without noticing. When we think about women in technology, we tend to think that technical universities have a high percentage of men. The reality is that most of the roles we are trying to fill don’t require deep technical knowledge but much more business understanding, process and organization skills – and not the least, commitment and the capacity to collaborate across teams and functions.
“Diversity is not the always same as inclusion. Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations where women are part of a team but not included – our voices are not always heard. In this International women day, let’s make ourselves heard and by that make Essity even more proud of us!”
I’m proud of the difference Essity is trying to make in the world to raise women issues, like our ground-breaking campaigns Blood Normal, Viva la Vulva and the one about Hygiene Has No Gender, testing kids attitudes towards gender and hygiene roles.
On International Women’s Day I always send messages to my closest female friends and family, saying how proud I am to be part of their lives and of what they have achieved; professionally and privately. Today I have the privilege to extend the message to all my incredible female colleagues in Essity and all the fantastic women in the world.