Yan Vermeulen, Global Practice, Chemical and Process Industries lead speaks with Anna Bertona, CEO and President EMEA at Azelis on how Azelis is leading the way in DEI in an insightful interview.
Yan: There's a lot of talk in the industry about both sustainability as well as diversity equity and inclusion, but let's focus on the DEI part. What does that mean to Azelis, and how does this Azelis define DEI?
Anna: For us, we have the ambition to be a company with a diverse and inclusive culture. We want to make a positive contribution to society, and attract top talent but also enhance customer relationships through that, improve decision-making, and increase the levels of employee satisfaction. We believe being very inclusive and diverse is really a competitive advantage for us and it will also help create longer-term sustainable value for all our stakeholders.
Diversity is a very complex topic, we translate it into gender but it's not only about gender. It's also about age, background, nationalities.
In the sustainability program, we have defined it with two KPIs we want that all line managers are trained around this topic, and we also want to have our senior leadership have at least 30% be held by women but we track many other KPIs we don't have targets on them but we track them, so we track for example also indeed age, background, nationalities.
Yan: I like the idea of tying it to executive performance as well and that is the same way we're seeing with sustainability in tying goals and perhaps even compensation to sustainability but also DEI goals. What steps have you taken to find those KPIs? What have you been able to achieve so far?
Anna: We train our people to increase awareness to also make sure that we take away bias from people for example when they do recruit. We have many other initiatives like in the US we have an Empowerment and Inclusion Council which is led by employees, and they are thinking about what we could do more to become even better in DEI.
It's not just a word that we say we want to be people feel it also whether we achieve it. Talking about achievements, we are I think quite good at Azelis, it doesn't mean that we cannot be better, but we have already overall more women employed than men, just around I think 50-53% or so, but from our new employees that we hired it's 60%.
Anna: In 2022, we surpassed our target around this senior leadership because we were 32% from 23% or so in the year before so we are really putting effort and we are also achieving this target it means that maybe we might raise the bar again on the target of 30% because now that we have surpassed, it's going to be too easy. I also want to come back it's not only about gender we also look at other parameters we have for example an executive committee globally, five people and they're all five different nationalities. We have a German, we have a Dutch, a British, Turk, we have an American and we have myself, Italian.
Yan: As a leader, you want to ensure you have a diverse team but for specific countries perhaps around the world or specific functions namely operational for instance it might be more difficult I would imagine ensuring that you have a diverse team, so both on the gender side and on the nationality, how do you ensure as a leader that you're achieving this?
Anna: It's a good question and sometimes we are just not succeeding I had to replace a senior role in Germany last year and we said we want to have a woman there, but we didn't succeed. And then, in the end, you must take I think what is best for the company and not I would say lower standards just to reach it, it's about the quality and to make sure that we look at it all the time again, it's the awareness that we create, it's the targets that we put, and it's also I would say the positive encouragement by sharing a lot of these success stories because that inspires people to act along that line.
Yan: That's probably the key point here, to share the stories and to share what can be done if a company has the right KPIs in place, and it seems really that, as mentioned you're doing well in the market both achieving your own goals, overachieving your goals. Thank you for sharing, it's been very impressive and very admirable what you've been able to achieve.
Anna: Thanks a lot, and we have so much still to do, I think we just must continue to raise the bar and we will do so. Thank you for the opportunity to explain what we do with Azelis around this topic.
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