Wärtsilä takes a collaborative approach to building awareness of diversity.
Diversity means progress
A changing business environment requires wider global presence and collaboration with varied stakeholders both within and outside the company. In terms of personnel, research shows that well-managed teams of diverse individuals often outperform homogenous teams thanks to their tendency to examine problems from different angles and arrive at more varied solutions.
As we highlighted n the 2013 Annual Report, Wärtsilä has a Diversity Initiative underway which is facilitated by our Diversity Forum, a group of employees from different businesses and locations which coordinates global actions and supports local initiatives.
Päivi Castrén, Wärtsilä's Executive Vice President, Human Resources, captures the company’s attitude to diversity development in a nutshell: “We don’t see diversity as a box to be ticked or ‘another thing to do’, but rather a complete attitude shift that will gradually become absorbed into our way of working.”
Following the opening phases of organisation and internal research, the forum began a programme of benchmarking with other companies such as Volvo, Accenture and Colgate. To further this collaborative approach to learning and advancement in the topic of diversity, Wärtsilä joined Corporate Responsibility Network FIBS during 2014, a non-profit Finnish organisation that helps companies to promote financially, socially and ecologically sustainable business. Members of the Diversity Forum attended FIBS’ annual Diversity Charter seminar in October and a benchmarking meeting for a group of members was hosted at Wärtsilä’s Helsinki headquarters on the following day.
With internal research and external benchmarking well underway, the Diversity Initiative is now focused on the next phase of its activities: communication and awareness building within the company. The momentum will thereby shift from the corporate office to managers across the organisation, with both the Diversity Forum and local HR personnel supporting them with material, guidance and ideas when needed.
While the initiative is working with ambitious targets (Wärtsilä aims to increase its female employees to 20% of total by the end of 2015), Päivi is emphatic that quotas and similar measures would be an inadequate means of achieving them. “This is a topic that needs to develop in the minds of our people, not just on paper with strict, enforced instructions. By keeping the topic alive and continually emphasising the advantages of diversity to our employees, the change will come from them. We’ve already shown the business benefits: now it’s time to see them in action as the learnings take root.”