Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, IKEA India observed Equality Day on March 3, at its corporate office in Bangalore, to celebrate its commitment to equality at the workplace.
IKEA, as an organisation, aims to achieve 50:50 gender balance across all roles for men and women, and that means equal opportunities and equal pay for both. To spread the word around, it organised Equality Day along with an NGO called Breakthrough, which is also dedicated to the cause of gender equality. At the event, everyone got together to discuss and share learnings and ideas about how it is possible to work together and build a more equal workplace. The discussions centred on steps and policies organisations can undertake to create inclusive workplaces for women, and ways to address the diverse needs of employees, such as women joining back after a career break. The intent behind Equality Day was to broaden the awareness among the workers.
The event also saw a few interesting points of view emerging from the employees, who came forth with their own stories on equality at the workplace. The NGO partner, Breakthrough, also shared findings from a recent project on gender equality. The event witnessed Professor Kade Finoff, from the Azim Premji University, sharing her thoughts on equality and dignity at the workplace.
Our gender inclusion goals aim at providing an inclusive work environment to all genders. When setting goals for gender equality, we make sure to include both genders
Peter Betzel, CEO, IKEA India, says, “Inclusion and diversity have always been part of the IKEA culture and its business priorities. Getting a 50:50 gender ratio is what we aim to achieve at all levels across IKEA.”
Speaking on the challenges of achieving the feat, Betzel maintains that for roles such as finance and logistics, it is difficult to find a balance in numbers, since women are less likely to take up such roles as readily as men.
“However, despite such hurdles, we have managed to have a high number of women even in such roles,” claims Betzel proudly.
Speaking on the importance of accountability in leadership, Betzel opines, “It is critical that senior leadership lead by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion. When senior leaders own D&I and it is a part of everyday work, it sets the tone for the rest of the organisation. It is important to use everyone’s unique experiences, perspectives and backgrounds to stay relevant in a fast-changing business environment.”
The Company offers access to a global learning platform for all its employees, for their training and development. All managers at IKEA participate in unconscious bias training.
Parineeta Lakra, country people and culture manager, IKEA India, shares, “Our gender-inclusion goals aim to provide an inclusive work environment to all genders. When setting goals for gender equality, we make sure to include both genders. As an example, if a function is more male dominated, we set goals for equality to recruit and develop more women for the role, and vice versa.”
Inclusion and diversity have always been part of the IKEA culture and business priorities. Getting a 50:50 gender ratio is what we aim to achieve at all levels across IKEA
It is known that diversity makes business sense. Diverse teams are more innovative, and companies with diversity perform better. When setting goals for gender equality, IKEA strives to include both genders. If a function is male dominated, the people and culture team tries to recruit more women into the role. Similarly, for women-dominated roles, male employees are sought out, to maintain a balance on the floor.
As a result, IKEA has more women co-workers in roles traditionally taken on by men, such as handling the forklift and the assembly line, among others. The Company also encourages women who take a break — to care for their children — to return to work. At its Hyderabad store, the organisation has come close to representing its 50:50 vision. Around 47 per cent of the employees there are women.
“I think it is fantastic that we talk gender equality and allow everyone equal opportunities to bring their points of view to the table. You are able to make better business decisions when you give attention to everyone’s opinions, irrespective of the gender,” concludes Betzel.