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Tihomir Premužak, CEO, Vetropack Straža

We are mainly focused on gender, age and organisational function issues, but being focused on only a few aspects inevitably makes us value and embrace all types of differences because it teaches us to respect others. And this is the key driver for this journey – to foster mutual respect for every one of us.

Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of your company?

Our D&I journey officially started by signing the Croatian Diversity Charter. This was the first concrete step in developing inclusive and diverse working places. D&I stopped to be just a declaratory statement, it became a real commitment and action. We decided to focus on developing a consistent approach to diversity as a business imperative.

And at the beginning of this year, we started a D&I project in order to continuously raise awareness about diversity and its benefits and to create an inspirational organisational culture to work in and develop further.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

We are mainly focused on gender, age and organisational function issues, but being focused on only a few aspects inevitably makes us value and embrace all types of differences because it teaches us to respect others. And this is the key driver for this journey – to foster mutual respect for every one of us.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

By adopting the Diversity Policy, we committed ourselves to identify and remove obstacles for diverse employees in recruitment, promotion/empowerment and retention, as well as in everyday collaboration. So, we carried out a survey among our employees to identify what are our weaknesses when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Based on the results, we came up with a plan of activities that already are or will be implemented. Organising a picnic for all employees with carefully created common activities was very well accepted and a useful way to introduce this topic to the employees. We regularly promote this issue in our magazine by tackling the most relevant aspects of diversity in our company.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by the industry sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?

One of the biggest challenges is dealing with deep-rooted prejudices and unconscious biases. We all have to be aware of them to make progress, and this can be a long and challenging process.

What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?

We are all unique and as a team we can provide a broad range of identities, experiences and perspectives. This brings us to new and creative ideas and solutions which are necessary to catch up with the growing demands of the market and to stay competitive. Embracing D&I values encourages a respectful and inclusive organisational culture where employees feel comfortable and confident in themselves – and this is the key in improving their performance.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

Companies have to be careful to implement D&I values into all business segments and make sure that the goals they want to achieve can be transferred into concrete and understandable initiatives.

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

I always strive to be an example in respecting every person and to promote good practices I see. Most of the colleagues are aware of the advantages of a diverse and inclusive workplace, but we have to make more of an effort to be inclusive in everyday life, as individuals as well as an organisation.

Any plans for the upcoming #EUDiversityMonth this May?

At the beginning of May, we published our first short movie in which a gender issue is presented to our employees in a funny and familiar way. Later on, we are planning to have focus groups for our employees where they will be invited to express their thoughts on D&I, as well as their experiences at the workplace. One of the results of these workshops will also be their statements about diversity which can be used in promoting D&I or as motivational quotes.

 

This interview was produced with the financial support of the European Union (project Workplace Inclusion Champion WIC). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

 

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