Diversity column by Croatian Diversity Charter ambassador, Ericsson Nikola Tesla President and CEO, Gordana Kovačević
Why and since when does your company believe and invest in diversity management?
Ericsson Nikola Tesla is a successful Croatian company, and as an associated company of Ericsson corporation, has been doing business in a global environment for many years. We firmly believe that our greatest asset are our people and our intellectual capital, which makes us recognizable on the market. It depends on the people how faster, better and more successful than other companies on the market we will be. Therefore, we see diversity as an advantage that needs to be continuously nurtured and improved in the entire organization as it brings added value and makes this distinct difference that distinguishes us from the others. Experience has taught us that by connecting people with different characteristics and by giving every person a chance to contribute to business results with own knowledge, skills, experience and perspectives, we can offer the best solutions for our customers and all other stakeholders in the business.
What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?
One of strategic business goals of our company is to be one of the best employers in the country, so we pay special attention to the development of people’s potential as well as attracting and retaining the best experts that can carry out complex tasks in a dynamic and rapidly growing ICT industry in which we work.
The basic principles that guide us in our everyday work are business ethics, equal opportunities and working conditions for all employees, and equality and human rights protection. We hire people with different competences, having different interests and ambitions, and we strive to translate the best they can offer into the implementation of company’s objectives.
Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?
Our way of working implies the implementation of diversity and inclusion policy in all segments of our business and other activities, and this policy is incorporated in other company policies, such as employment policy, managing human resources, etc. Implementation of diversity and inclusion is encouraged and supervised by the highest management bodies. We have built and constantly invest in the company culture, where managers act so as to set an example and have an active role in the creation of teams, and create a stimulating working environment, where every individual feels included, appreciated and is ready to give his/her best. Such company culture is implemented in the entire organization and it includes each one of our employees who every day in his/her work shows respect for the colleagues, customers, partners, and all other people they interact with. We have a big customer base, and wherever we do business, we are devoted to the development of mutual and long-term relationships with different groups of stakeholders.
Many companies are not prioritizing inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?
Such companies should recognize that diversity and an inclusive organization contribute to the achievement of better business results and help the company to achieve its vision as well as long-term business growth and development. The application of diversity and inclusion principles help you: to better organize and optimize resources in your business activities, as well as to overcome structural and cultural obstacles standing in the way of effective work; to take into consideration the needs and interests of different stakeholders when making decisions; to preserve and develop more easily different talents your employees have; to develop innovations that result from different types of knowledge, skills, perspectives and experiences your employees have; to adapt more easily and react effectively to the changes on the market.
Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?
I would say that diversity is like a flower that needs to be constantly taken care of and watered. This is why, in our company we continuously work on educating our employees about the advantages that diversity and inclusion bring into our business. As I have already said, Ericsson Nikola Tesla is an employer that promotes the principle of equal opportunities for every individual and this is something to constantly work on, with a zero tolerance for discrimination on grounds of age, gender, race, national or ethnic origin, language, religion, political views, sexual orientation, physical abilities, etc. A major problem we encounter is the lack of ICT experts on the market. Even though it is the profession of the future, nowadays in the EU, there are only 30 percent of women working in ICT sector, and in Croatia the gap between men and women is even bigger. Schools in the field of ICT are still predominantly chosen by men, while there are only 12 percent of female students. This must be changed. From an early age, parents and teachers should raise girls and boys in the same way. They should strive to develop children’s interest in STEM through play, regardless of their sex. The problem of lack of experts will be solved most easily if we provide conditions for girls and young women to decide to pursue their career in ICT industry more often.