As part of our Role Model Campaign, this year we are spending time getting to know more about different diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices from various companies. In the spotlight for this article is Miele X, where we spoke to Tanja Antonijevic, the HR Director, and Matea Fogec, the External Communications Manager. Together they have worked on various D&I projects, events, and communication for almost a year. Miele is the holding company of Miele X, and they are well known for manufacturing premium domestic and professional appliances for over 120 years. Miele X is the digital hub of Miele, holding expert knowledge and capabilities in eCommerce, data & analytics, digital marketing, customer engagement and performance, and IT.
Why is diversity important?
While there has been a clear increase in female labour participation over the past decades, employment gaps are present in many industries, with tech being at the top of this list. However, at Miele X, diversity and inclusion are at the core of their business. When representing a global brand like Miele, it is vital for their organisation to reflect the different markets that they operate in. In addition to this, Tanja mentions that: “a company needs to represent the consumers that they serve.” This is why they are proud to announce that they have more than 40 nationalities on board, as well as a gender-balanced team, with women accounting for 51% of their workforce. This allows them to challenge each other to be better, and see past certain beliefs or ideas that are embedded in one’s native culture. They also argue that from a purely economic perspective, diverse organizations tend to perform better in the marketplace. There are numerous examples that demonstrate the positive impact that ethnic, cultural and gender diversity has on a business’s success.
While their statistics alone are impressive, it is worth noting that Miele X implements many initiatives to ensure that they are not only diverse in numbers but that everyone in their team feels included. This begins first with inclusive recruitment. Their talent team invests time in sourcing diverse talent and avoids hiring ‘the same type of employee’ over and over again. While this might take more time and effort, Miele X sees this as the first investment in building a diverse community. Employees at Miele X have hybrid working hours, where they can alternate between working from the office and at home. With this in mind, their new office space was designed to be a community hub rather than a traditional, transactional workspace. Therefore, the building is equipped with a sizable kitchen, with dedicated appliances for every diet, sleeping pods for resting, a maternity room for new parents, a prayer room where people can practise their faith and a small Miele experience centre where they can even do their laundry. In addition to this, their community space is furnished with rooms that reflect distinct cultures from all over the world. They have a rickshaw, a caravan, ski gondolas, Japanese-styled low tables and chairs, and a tepee where employees can socialise or book for meetings.
Throughout the year Miele X celebrates holidays from various faiths and cultures across the globe and uses these moments as learning opportunities. For example last International Women’s Day, they connected all their female colleagues for a high tea at an external location. Exiting lockdown, they wanted to provide a space for them to connect, network and share experiences. As a part of their last D&I week, they organised an event at Amstelpark where they invited everyone to attend a workshop focused on the harmful effects of cultural stereotypes. Pride was another important moment at Miele X, where they organised different activities throughout the week, all focused on supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. They gave all their employees rainbow socks, which Matea mentions she still sees people wear. For the International day against violence against women, they organised self-defence classes for their female colleagues focused on empowerment. Most recently, they celebrated Lunar New Year by decorating the office with festive ornaments and serving a traditional lunch that included cakes, dumplings and treats. Considering this, it becomes clear that D&I is more than just a buzz phrase at Miele X, but something they consistently implement.
The future of Miele X
Even though their total workforce is gender balanced, they still aim to promote women to more leadership positions. With their recruitment processes, they believe that this can be achieved through strategic succession planning, which allows them to spot opportunities early on. They aim to maintain their balanced workforce by monitoring hiring trends and continuing to recruit diverse team members. Miele X also wants to be an inspiration and model for the whole Miele Group through sharing their D&I practises and policies. Finally, they want to take part in more initiatives like the Role Model campaign because they believe representation matters.
How can others strive for more diversity?
For companies looking to emulate practices from Miele X, they first advise that you invest in the recruitment process and dedicate time to searching for the right (female) candidates. While positive discrimination has been hotly debated by some, at Miele X, when two candidates are equally matched, they consider their workforce gender balance and hire the candidate that would maintain their ratio. They believe that, if you hire people who are inclusive by nature, then they will also continuously challenge your company to be more inclusive. Furthermore, they stress the importance of strategic succession planning, as it is through this you can bring more women to leadership positions.
When drafting policies or contracts and building an office space, Miele X advises that you consider that the needs of your female employees might be different than those of your male employees. Your culture and business processes should accommodate a diverse group of people. They encourage you to announce your companies’ internal networking events in advance so that everyone can plan their attendance. This makes a difference for female employees who often need to attend to private matters after work and cannot attend events spontaneously. Finally, developing an inclusive environment requires that as a company you are reactive to events in the world around us. Offering employees mental health days, and support after a disaster is another way to truly show that your company cares about the employees that work there.
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