Jackie Avery, Nestlé Romania: Diverse companies are more innovative, more likely to attract, motivate and engage employees

In today’s post, Jackie Avery, HR Director Nestlé 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?

Nestlé is a global business, the world’s largest food and beverage company operating for over 150 years. Over this period, diversity and inclusion have become part of us and of the values of Nestlé.

We are committed to enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. We are driven by this purpose and guided by our values rooted in respect. Respect for ourselves, for others, for diversity and for the future. Respect for Diversity is respecting other ways of thinking, other cultures, and all facets of society. It requires openness and inclusiveness in all our interactions both inside and outside our company.

We aim to provide a workplace culture that builds on strengths and focuses on abilities and generates equal opportunities for everyone and where people are treated with respect.

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

Our ambition is to embed diversity and inclusion across everything we do. In order to achieve this, our efforts are focused across three core areas: innovation, society and culture. By building an inclusive culture that values the different talents and experiences of our employees, innovating to serve the needs of our diverse consumers and customers and engaging with society in the diverse markets where we operate we are able to create the company we want to be for the future.

We recruit competent and motivated people who respect our values, provide equal opportunities for their development and advancement protect their privacy and do not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination. Our commitment to provide equal opportunities starts from the point of recruitment until the end of the working relationship.

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

Globally we have developed concrete actions to increase diversity and inclusion and this has been localized across every Nestlé market through the development of action plans adapted to our local needs and legislations. Our ongoing training programs, workshops and best practice exchanges on diversity and inclusion as well as Unconscious Bias aim to ensure that all our employees live our values of respect.

Nestlé is committed to being a gender-balanced company by enabling conditions in our working environment and our Diversity & Inclusion action plan has a strong focus on gender balance, ensuring equal opportunities and rewards.

Diversity and inclusion means everything that makes us different from each other. This includes not just gender and disability, but also areas such as age, ethnicity and physical appearance, as well as the differences that are visible only when you look under the surface: thinking styles, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, beliefs, and life experiences. We focus on raising awareness and ensuring that we address people’s unconscious bias ensuring fair treatment for all our employees.

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

Research shows us (Mckinsey) that companies with more diverse workforces perform better. Diverse and inclusive companies are more innovative, more likely to capture a new market and attract, motivate and engage employees.

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

Diversity ensures that we are able to attract and retain high performers. When people are comfortable to be themselves they are able to give their best. By being diverse in our workforce, we become more open in our thinking and this allows us to bring different perspectives when addressing challenges.

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

Diversity is not a challenge; it is a way of life and this mindset change is one that will help companies really embrace the opportunities for the future. The leadership approach needs to come from the top management and to be visible by their actions to the entire organization.

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

Diversity is part of the Nestlé values and therefore by working for our company you are embracing this value. As part of the Leadership team of Nestlé in Romania, it is my role to lead by example and to celebrate successes driven by diversity.

Jackie Avery is the HR Director at Nestlé Romania from November 2015. Jackie started in the Petcare business in 1995 holding roles of increasing responsibility in the UK/Northern Region. Before moving to Switzerland, Jackie was the HR Director for the Northern Region, with responsibility for the UK and Ireland, Netherlands and the Nordics. Before moving in Romania, Jackie has been based in Lausanne as the Head of Organization and Management Development.

Interview by Dana Oancea