Ioana Boteanu, Henkel Romania: Companies should lead to and through acceptance & innovation

In today’s post, Ioana Boteanu, Recruitment & Training Specialist with Henkel 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?

Diversity & Inclusion is a business imperative and embedded in our company values for a very long time. That is why we actively promote it among our employees, raise awareness and foster an environment that welcomes and embraces different perspectives, cultures and diversity of thought. In 2007 a corporate department was launched to further embrace the concept and getting a better understanding within the overall organization. It helps us to generate more creativity and innovation and attracting the best and diverse workforce, while improving our business performance. It also gave us the chance to respond and access new markets and new customers.

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

In a market strongly affected by globalization the different backgrounds and diverse abilities of our employees are invaluable for our understanding of our stakeholders and markets. Henkel is concentrated on various diversity-dimensions like gender, disability, generations, culture and others.

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

We, as a team, are defining every year the topics according to our priorities and trends so we have different projects running throughout the year. We permanently change and adapt the activities to the needs of our stakeholders also. These projects include work-life flexibility, employee networking groups, a role model database, events, workshops, round tables, diversity weeks and inclusion campaigns.

Many companies aren't prioritizing inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?

Nowadays, in a VUCA world, the concept of Diversity & Inclusion is needed more than ever before. It gives us the chance to understand, adapt easily and change all the time, to stay relevant. Companies should lead to and through acceptance & innovation.

In your opinion, what tangible benefits does diversity bring to your company?

As a global team united by strong values and beliefs, we embrace different opinions and perspectives. Which means that our employees feel valued & appreciated, and that we accept & embrace their variety of mindsets, qualities and abilities. And this definitely leads to a sustainable business success.

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

In Romania a main challenge would be the understanding and acceptance of the concept. Depending on the cultural and market context, the respect and communication might be two other challenges in different companies. These fundamental values are important in any organizational environment. In this regard, the international business community will have to focus more on educating and communicating openly through diversity & inclusion awareness campaigns/programs and/or trainings.

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

First, it is more important to understand the concept and its relevance. Once the concept is understood, then you are half-way there.
Therefore, as I previously stated, having different activities and trainings on diversity, will increase the awareness and acceptance for this topic in the eyes of all relevant stakeholders.
Studies, e.g. by Catalyst or McKinsey, demonstrate that diverse organizations are better performing, more profitable and more powerful and that customers, employees and suppliers have greater loyalty to businesses that seek to be more representative of the communities they serve. Diversity & Inclusion does lift employee engagement and continually increases our value for our people and customers.
Educate and let yourself be educated all the time! We might all discover a world full of creativity and new wonderful ideas. ?

Ioana Boteanu is Recruitment & Training Specialist at Henkel Romania

Interview by Dana Oancea