You can’t have one without the other! If we really want diversity in our company, we must allow differences to be heard and to come to fruition. If you don’t balance diversity with inclusion, you get group-think, conflict, dissatisfaction and the struggle of not fitting in. Which is why the key elements of our diversity strategy today are a business perspective on diversity and a tight focus on including people.
I like to put inclusion first. For Tetra Pak, it means we respect personal differences at our organisation, giving different approaches support and room to grow. Everyone is engaged, contributing and has access to opportunities. If we have inclusion, diversity can do its job. For Tetra Pak, diversity means a workforce with the full range of differences. This includes more visible differences, like age, nationality and gender, and more invisible ones, like different styles, experiences or approaches - for example, being an introvert or an extrovert. We want to make sure our organisation has a diversity that reflects our business and consumers – and that we have comparable representation at any level of our hierarchy. For example, if 35% of engineering graduates around the world are female, we want to be able to hire at least that many female engineers. If we have 30% women in our organisation, then we should have 30% at every level – including senior management.
Last year, we took a close look at gender balance in the workplace. We were trying to tackle two stubborn issues: female representation in our senior leadership, and female representation versus the external market. Despite our hard work, we weren’t making the progress we wanted. So we decided to dig deeper, going beyond the numbers to look at the cultural barriers and enablers that were at play. We set up a Gender Advisory Panel to do this. Once we identified the root causes, we saw they were an issue for everybody, not just women. We defined action plans to remove these barriers and create a level playing field for everyone. That’s when we changed the name of the panel to Diversity and Inclusion.
We had an 'ah ha' moment when we asked, ‘why are we really doing this?’. It’s not just about legal compliance – although that obviously matters. Our company strategy actually demands diversity of approaches. We have a wide mix of customers, and we want to be the most innovative and integrated company in our field. To stay ahead of an ever-changing environment, you constantly need new ideas and new approaches coming in. And you don’t get that without diversity. Ensuring this link is clear to everyone makes it easier to get people on board. By tying it to a purpose, everyone understands the strategic necessity, rather than just doing something because they’re told to.
We talked to a lot of other companies about their approach to diversity and inclusion. Many have struggled to make the progress they wanted to, and a few have had negative backlash around some of their initiatives. So we got plenty of good advice of what NOT to do. We also see that the dialogue on diversity has shifted recently. Millennials, for example, care much less about formal diversity components. For them, it's more around how can you be different, how can you do things differently. How can you have the career you want? The work life balance you want? We're trying to pick that up in our approach, driving actions that allow people to be themselves. If it was down to me, we wouldn't talk about diversity in terms of dividing people into different groups. Instead, we would talk about the common things that let everyone succeed. That's what our projects, communications and measurement are now focusing on.
We have a strategy and roadmap in place, with many actions already underway, and many in the pipeline. Here are a few examples… We are doubling flexible work arrangements across our company. By the end of next year, every country with more than 50 employees will offer some form of flexibility around working time, place or leave. We are already transparent on career opportunities, and provide training and guides to help everyone progress. In Q1 this year, we offered career development webinars, which we’re following up with stories about how different people manage different careers. We’re launching a pilot project on training around cognitive diversity and bias in the workplace. We want to understand the behaviours and thinking patterns that lead us to ‘sameness’, so that we can overcome them and make the most of different approaches. We’re working with a group of recruitment managers around the globe to look at why we're not hiring the diversity we want to. What are the root causes and how do we change them? For example, we want to hire more female engineers; how do we tap into scarce talent pools and how motivate girls to go into these types of jobs?
We have created a Desired Future State for diversity and inclusion at Tetra Pak, made up of several components. For each of these, we have identified metrics that allow us to track and measure our progress. The first component is ‘we see people’ and is all about inclusion. We have something called the inclusion index, which measures answers to questions from our employee engagement survey around inclusion, (e.g. 'do people have a voice', 'do people have growth opportunities', 'do people collaborate and connect across departments'). The second component is around getting the right balance of diversity. We track this through our diversity dashboard, which measures representation across Tetra Pak. The third component is around seeing and valuing the benefits of diversity. For that, we want to apply for external recognition such as awards as a top employer, or best place to work – starting next year. In my opinion, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to the future of Tetra Pak, and I’m confident we’re taking the kind of integrated approach that will get us where we want to go!