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Our key takeaways from the SHE Conference 2019

217 are the estimated number of years it will take for us to end gender disparities in the workplace – and so stepping up our equality game was the focus on the SHE Conference in Oslo 6th March.

The organisers of She Conference talking on stage

Did you know that research estimates it will take us another 217 years to end gender disparities in the workplace? To continue our work towards a more equal workplace, Visma was a proud sponsor of the SHE Conference – and here are our key takeaways.

After having successfully closed the global gender gap a little by little over the last couple of years, The World Economic Forum recently added 47 years to the time needed to reach workplace equality.

This was the main focus of yesterday’s SHE Conference: to step up our equality work game. SHE Conference is the largest gender diversity conference in Europe. Two days before the International Women’s Day, leaders, entrepreneurs, business professionals, investors, students, and politicians were invited to talk about – and discuss – how diversity is a key to business success across sectors and countries.

Here are our key takeaways:

4 key takeaways from the SHE Conference

The SHE Conference discussed, among other things, why diversity is important for businesses and how diversity in the workplace leads to higher efficiency and better innovation.

Other topics were how we can work towards closing the gender gap, innovation and technology and the importance of bold leadership. To summarise, here are some of the highlights:

Equality starts within the family

Several of the speakers began their stories telling about their children and everyday situations at home. Why? Because, as the Norwegian Minister of Business Affairs, Thorbjørn Røe Isaksen, pointed out: working towards a more equal workplace starts at home.

Parents are our biggest influencers during the first years of our lives. What they say, how they behave and what they believe is therefore important for how a child perceives the world. And so, if a child grows up in a home where there isn’t equality, her or she will go into the workplace thinking this the norm.

Bold leadership drives better results

At 25 years old, Jan Christian Vestre, was handed the legacy of the Norwegian family-owned company Vestre, one of Europe’s most successful manufacturers of urban furniture. In the midst of his Law studies, he decided to take on the CEO role after his father’s sudden death, focusing on creating an innovative and sustainable company.

At the Conference, he talked about how designers and manufacturers must contribute to achieving the UN’s 17 sustainability goals and that leaders have to think bigger and bolder in terms of innovation, environment and building a motivated team – not only the ROI.

Diversity creates innovation

Only when you allow diversity, new ideas will be generated. This was something Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, touched upon in her talk about diversity:

“Diversity is really important because when you have diverse perspectives, then you generate new ideas and you drive innovation. The other thing is inclusion: giving everybody a form to actually speak their mind and to share their perspective because it is only then that you value the diversity that you’ve gathered together.

Female voices are often very different than a man’s voice: we think differently, we see the world very differently and we work differently in very stressful situations. So having a collaboration between women and men creates an organisation that is much more profitable and much more healthy.”

The future workforce needs more female role models

Changing the norm for our younger generations means that we, among other things, need more female role models within all sectors, in all countries and in all positions. Lise Klaveness is a good example of just that.

As the first female football expert commentator and one of the first women in the world to be employed as a sports director with responsibility for top football, for both men and women, Klaveness is an important role model within a “mans dominated” world.

Klaveness was open about how taking on this job was something she had to think hard about before saying yes, not only because it was a demanding job but also because she knew there would be reactions simply because she is a woman.

We must not forget to work for equality also in less developed countries

With a goal to eliminate biases against women in the Maritime Industry in the Asia Pacific region, Sanjam Sahi Gupta, was on stage to talk about how she has implemented EY’s SHE Index in India. The index is an initiative to promote transparency about gender balance in executive positions in business.

Sahi Gupta is the Director of Sitara Shipping Ltd, after joining the family business as a trainee in 2001. Stepping into her father’s workplace after experiencing how her mother was not allowed to do the same tasks as her father in the company, Sahi now strives to create a platform for women in the maritime industry through Womens’ International Shipping and Trading Association [WISTA India].

These are all important matters, and we at Visma believes that a balanced gender ratio contributes to a better working environment, greater creativity – and better results. Product Manager in Visma Enterprise Labs AS, Ellen Snedal states:

“It’s important for Visma to show that we care about gender equality and that we are focusing on recruiting as many women as we can in our company because we know it’s good business doing so. We have several initiatives, such as support the #ShesGotThis campaign, being a partner at She Conference and also doing internal actions such as having a mentoring program and arranging Women at Visma where we gather women from the different companies to exchange knowledge”.

What other actions do we take to promote these principles?

How we at Visma strive to close the gender gap within our organisation

To promote the principle of equal opportunity for both genders, we have implemented the following measures:

  • If qualifications are the same in other respects, the underrepresented gender will be appointed when filling vacant positions

When hiring new employees or filling vacant positions, the underrepresented gender will be appointed as long as the qualifications are the same.

  • Training and promotion are independent of gender

Giving our employees the same possibilities for training and promotion independent of gender ensures that we don’t favour one gender over another.

  • A founding partner of #ShesGotThis

#ShesGotThis started as two successful campaigns addressing unconscious bias and gender stereotypes, both in the workplace and in the society in general, and is now a non-profit organisation.

  • Mentoring circles for women

We offer Mentoring circles for women with the objective to increase the recruitment of women to management roles.

  • Guidelines on equal opportunities have been sent out to all managers

The guidelines on equal opportunities have been reviewed in management meetings and have also been sent to all managers in the Group.

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