Violeta Neniță, Store Manager IKEA Băneasa: Equality leads to a better IKEA by contributing to positive change in our business and in society

In today’s post, Violeta Neniță, Store Manager IKEA Băneasa, 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?

At IKEA, we see diversity and inclusion as the right thing to do. It is a part of our values and it is essential to the success of our business.
Recognizing our co-workers’ differences contributes to creativity, supports our growth plans and helps create a better IKEA. That is why we created and launched a Diversity and Inclusion approach in 2012.

Nevertheless, IKEA was always committed to provide equal opportunities in recruitment and development to all people – regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, or any other dimension of their identity.

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

We will approach and prioritize every aspect of our Diversity and Inclusion strategy step by step. In IKEA SEE region, we started with Gender Equality and this will be our priority for this year.

At IKEA Group, we see Gender Equality at the heart of human rights. We believe everyone has the right to be treated fairly and be given equal opportunities regardless of their gender. That is why, we are currently working together with our co-workers and other stakeholders relevant for this field, to move things forward and become an example of best practices.

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

Gender equality is our highest priority for now and we are focused on achieving gender balance and shaping a culture of inclusion. IKEA Group is committed to gender balance (50/50%) in all levels of leadership, functions, and positions; equal pay for jobs of equal value by 2020; creating equal opportunities for all genders.

We have launched a global Gender Equality Plan, following a systematic approach - all the way from establishing the mind-set for gender equality, through creating an inclusive work environment with a supportive infrastructure, to measuring results. The plan provides a consistent way of working with gender equality across all IKEA Group organisations. It follows the IKEA Group Diversity & Inclusion 6-step approach and the Inclusion Model for creating an inclusive workplace.

The steps are:
1. Establishing the mind-set for gender equality
2. Analysing gender equality and identifying gaps
3. Setting goals for gender equality
4. Creating gender balance in all levels of leadership, functions and positions
5. Creating an inclusive organisation for all genders
6. Measuring gender equality

In Romania, we started by consulting the most relevant stakeholders on the topic of Gender Equality. Thus, in March 2018, IKEA Romania brought together co-workers, Romanian authorities, NGOs and companies to a Gender Equality Forum organized in the IKEA Store in Bucharest. The debate under the umbrella concept “Equality works better” was focused on gender equality as an objective which can contribute to best practices for business and society. The Forum was completed by an outdoor communication campaign where IKEA co-workers are the main characters as well as an internal communication campaign.

IKEA is currently working on additional initiatives together with the stakeholders involved in the Gender Equality forum. We want to make sure that we are adapting the best solutions for the needs of the Romanian society.

Many organizations are not prioritizing inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?

Companies that consider diversity in managerial positions have better results in talent recruitment and retention, customer loyalty and, ultimately, better financial performance. Reflecting market diversity attracts a wider customer base and enables a better understanding and support of customers’ needs. Adopting Diversity & Inclusion is a good investment for the company.

Diverse and inclusive teams are more creative and innovative, as members challenge each other to think and act differently. Gender equality makes business sense. Research shows that companies with gender diversity in leadership positions have better financial and organizational performance. Gender diverse teams are shown to be more creative and innovative than homogenous teams. Women and men contribute differently to the business and exhibit different leadership skills. These skills complement each other and are all needed to support our future goals.

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

We discovered in the IKEA store in Bucharest that the various teams are more creative and bring new solutions. IKEA Romania can boast good results in terms of gender equality, with 46% women employed in the IKEA store in Bucharest, 45% in the middle management team and 50% women in the top management team of the store, as well as a very clear policy non-discrimination and equal opportunities at work.

Diversity supports the IKEA Group ambition to be the world leading multi-channel home furnishing organization. Through diversity and inclusion, we develop better understanding of our consumers, and offer more creative and relevant home furnishing solutions, products and services. We also attract more talent by being a great place to work. Equality leads to a better IKEA by contributing to positive change in our business and in society.

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

Within the IKEA Group, equality is seen as a fundamental human right. We believe that everyone has the right to be treated fairly and to have equal opportunities.
We started this year with a gender equality campaign that also had a very important internal communication component. Moreover, 10 of our colleagues were featured in an advertising campaign that promoted the importance of gender equality. This way, all IKEA co-workers in Romania became aware of the objectives and became fully committed to adopting them.

Violeta Neniță was born in 1969, in Romania. She has a university degree in Textile Engineering; she is married and has two children. In 1993, Violeta worked in a textile factory as a technical engineer. Three years later, she joined H&M and in 2003 started her career in IKEA. Since then she has been working in trading organization having different roles and assignments, last 5 years as Trading Area Manager for South East Europe. Today, Violeta is the store manager of IKEA Băneasa Romania since June 2016.