In today’s post, Martin Zmelik, CEO with CEZ Romania, talks about what actions the company has been taking in diversity management.
Why and since when does your company believe and invest in diversity management?
Ever since CEZ Group in Romania entered the Romanian market back in 2005, we started to build a sustainable business, based on a very high quality human resource with very good technical skills, excellent communication skills and ability to speak foreign languages, less resistance to change than in other EU countries, availability for mobility and several other attributes that would deliver a thorough change of mind set and organizational culture.
All of these characteristics formed the stepping stone for intercultural exchange of know-how, and experience between employees from all CEZ companies.
Right from the start, we encouraged changes in the management team in order to strengthen the local management, or to be more specific, to have Romanian managers in upper positions. Starting July 2014, the COO position of CEZ Group in Romania is filled by a Romanian manager, thus marking the first time in the history of CEZ Group, that the second position of strategic importance at the level of the Group is given to a local manager.
Also, three of the companies in our portfolio have Romanians as CEO: Distributie Oltenia, the energy distributor in Oltenia region, CEZ Vanzare, the energy and natural gas supplier, and the hydro plant we have in Caras Severin has a Romanian General Director.
Also, all departments of second organizational echelon have Romanian managers, likewise the operational and strategic projects. Many of these positions are held by woman managers in various age and expertize ranges and that is a key success factor for our business.
What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?
We are a team of approximately 1800 employees, spread in headquarters in 11 counties in the country. We value all aspects of diversity management and encourage promotions at any level because that is the key to a successful and sustainable development for both employees and business.
“Energy comes from people” is the motto that inspires us in our daily activity, and this energy is also the result of the diversity of all CEZ Group in Romania employees, in all its forms.
Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?
After a warm welcoming, new employees get to become better acquainted with all aspects of our operations during a “two days” Induction Day program, no matter the position the employees were employed on. This helps new employees to find more on how their activity is interconnected with that of other companies within the Group and to share experience with other departments/ divisions.
Another program we are very proud of is a personal development program, called the Academy, where employees of any gender, ethnicity or culture can develop managing skills on three levels: self-management, leadership and advanced leadership, depending on their status in the company, but also on their potential.
The increase of diversity in the energy field, by offering visibility to all groups, no matter their gender, ethnicity, culture or any other identity marker, is a dominant concern in our CSR projects also. An already taken step towards achieving this goal is through the Electrician Apprentice project, implemented by Distributie Oltenia, where we get involved in the education of the next generation of electricians. Already in the second year of implementation, the number of girls opting for the professional classes Electrician Apprentice has risen (from 1 to 6) as a result of the communication campaign dedicated to the program, where we have both girls and boys in the role of a future electrician.
In your opinion, what tangible benefits does diversity bring to your company?
I strongly believe the more diverse and creative our employees are, the better are our results and the projects we get involved in.
We always go for an extended and multitalented team of professionals when developing and implementing operational or CSR projects and we run an annual collection of new initiatives from all activity levels that are transformed into operational and strategic optimization projects for the following year. This is how we succeeded to consolidate our portfolio while still innovating in the past 12 years.
Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?
We lean quite naturally towards diversity, as a feature of our organizational culture. However, if I were to remember us at the beginning, rather, I would mention the fact that we had to address each other in a different language than the native one, there was also a certain generation gap between the activities and certain cultural differences between the main 3 regions wherein we operate. Nevertheless, not only we managed to surpass them, but we are quite fond of our family like environment that drives us towards achieving our targets.
What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?
CEZ Group in Romania has always promoted diversity management and will continue to do so because we think that a strong local management team is an important incentive in the further success of the business along with the abroad know-how. Also, in terms of diversity of genders our experience has taught us that it is important to keep a close balance between perspectives and approches.
Martin Zmelik holds an MBA from the US Business School. He began his career in CEZ Group in January 2005, when he took over the task of creating and developing the international portfolio of CEZ Group from the position of Director of International Operations.
In February 2010, Martin Zmelik took over the position of COO and Member of the Board within CEZ Romania. During his tenure, the company completed a wind farm in Dobrogea, overhauled a network of small-hydro plants in southwestern Romania, North of Resita, the financial results of CEZ Group in Romania registered record values at Group level (2012), and the portfolio has been strengthened. Starting July 1st, 2014, Martin Zmelik became Country Manager and Chairman of CEZ Romania, taking the helm of CEZ affairs in Romania.
Interview by Dana Oancea