Why Equality Policy Drives Swedish Corporate
World’s leading furniture brand, Ikea, is not just famous for its affordable products but also its core values. It belongs to Sweden, a country that prioritizes gender equality, pay parity, human rights. Hence, its core values also lie in giving equal opportunities to women, train them to do equal work and also making a sensitive and safe workplace for the LGBTQ community.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AGENDA
Some of the ways Ikea aligns itself towards supporting gender diversity and inclusion is by celebrating IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia And Transphobia) on May 17 every year. In 2018, the focus is on transgender inclusion.
Talking to SheThePeople.TV about their diversity objective, Logistics Head of Ikea India, Saiba Suri, said, “The whole diversity and inclusion agenda is so intrinsic for the organization that it percolates down to each function automatically. We are very conscious of the fact that we have to have 50-50 gender diversity ratio to begin with and that is held true even in logistics. Today in the Hyderabad store, we have 62 co-workers and we have gender diversity rate of 48%. Even in our service office, we have 50% women employees. So at every step and every role that we are recruiting for, we always keep that in mind irrespective of the task.”
“The mere fact that I am also in this organization heading logistics department—a sector predominantly male-driven—also signifies how much importance we give to the diversity and inclusion agenda,” she added.
SWEDEN’S DIVERSITY POLICIES
Susanne Pulverer, who is the Sustainability Head of Ikea India and has been with the company for over 20 years now, says that she has seen the company’s demography evolve in all these years. “Over the years I can see much more women and women in leading positions. That is a huge development in the organization across the world,” Susanne told us.
She also spoke of how diversity works in Sweden in comparison to India. “Every country has its own history, but I am proud of Sweden where I have grown up. While it is not fully equal, it has taken many good steps like sharing household responsibility, sharing childcare responsibility etc. When I look at India, I see a huge opportunity in getting women into the workplace because I feel that it contributes to the economy of the country and families, to raising daughters etc.”
HOW DIVERSITY IMPACTS GROWTH
Susanne also told us how diversity impacts a company’s growth and said that they have customers who are a mix of men and women and other gender, so organizations should mirror that. “It is to bring in more perspective, so I think it is very natural that a diverse organization where you have a balance not only between genders but also other dimensions will deliver better, will work better, will be more fun and more successful,” she explained.
“If you hire more number of women, then chances of sexual harassment at workplace decrease because men become used to working with women. Women build support networks and then of course we follow the law and have Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) committee in every organisation,”- Ikea India CFO, Preet Dhupar
SAFETY CONCERNS WITH DIVERSITY
With more diversity and inclusion, there is a larger need for companies to have sensitization programs and ensure that every employee — whether it is a woman or a man or from the LGBTQ community — feels safe. Talking about safety and security, the company’s Chief Finance Officer, Preet Dhupar, said that there are various checkpoints in the organization. “The fact that we recruit by values becomes the first checkpoint and that becomes ingrained into all of us who join the organization and the people who recruit other people. The other way around is if you hire more number of women, then chances of sexual harassment at workplace decrease because men become used to working with women. Women build support networks and then of course we follow the law and have Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) committee in every organisation,” Dhupar told SheThePeople.TV.
“Ikea also conducts trainings to sensitize its co-workers, celebrates days where it doesn’t just address women but also men where we talk about men who support and encourage women in their personal lives,” stated Dhupar.