2. Be more welcoming with proper workwear and facilities
The changes required to make manufacturing sites more welcoming to women aren’t always so big. One example is properly fitted workwear. Previously, many sites would assign women a small-sized men’s outfit. Now AkzoNobel advises our sites to provide women with outfits designed for them, as well as making sure there are designated locker rooms for both men and women. Being open to flexible working arrangements is another easy way to make your working environment more attractive to all.
3. Educate people managers
We know that leaders like Dani play a pivotal role in shaping culture by role-modelling inspiring behaviors. That’s why we created an inclusive leadership guide to spark ideas and give examples of how leaders can create an environment where everyone feels included. This has been translated into 16 different languages and includes ways for managers to share learnings with their teams.
Since we’ve also made training on unconscious bias mandatory for all employees as part of their onboarding, our people managers are encouraged to discuss these topics openly within their teams.
4. Increase development and networking opportunities
One of our areas of focus at AkzoNobel is to increase the share of women across all levels of the organization. Women are now proportionally represented in all our talent pools (at least 35%) and we support their advancement with additional development options such as personal branding and interview skills training or mentoring.
Employee networks, where people can make new connections, share experiences and grow talent together, are also a great way to provide much needed support and sense of belonging – especially in areas of the company that aren’t yet very gender diverse. Last year, we launched our global Women Inspired Network. It’s growing fast with local chapters across the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Dubai, India, China and Singapore.
5. Implement gender diversity targets throughout the organization
As part of our long-term diversity and inclusion commitments as a company, in 2021 we tasked each executive leadership team with driving a specific business unit or function level action plan aimed at strengthening gender diversity in their department.
AkzoNobel is also one of the leading European companies in the industrial and technological sectors that has signed a pledge to #EmbraceDifference. We’ve committed to increasing female representation at the senior executive level to 30% by 2025. You can learn more about this initiative by reading the full case study.
6. Align values with recruiters
“Our main partners for recruiting know that we believe in diversity and we do not exclude candidates on the basis of gender,” says Dani. “This was a challenge at the beginning because we had to break many stereotypes to create the welcoming environment we wanted to have at our site. Now it’s our normal. We’ve moved on to promoting female operators into supervisor positions. It takes time, but gender diversity is now part of our DNA at Vilafranca.”
Hiring targets at AkzoNobel overall include reaching a 50/50% gender balance in new hires for middle management and executive levels.
Our success comes down to proud people
“I don’t see a future in complex operations and process without the help of the technology and our diverse, passionate and innovative people,” says Dani. “What I like most about working at AkzoNobel is the great potential we have. We can be thinking about a project and verify that the same thing has been implemented in another site on the other side of the world, then talk to them about it the very next day. It’s a rare advantage.”