Business Today

"We Don't Force Diversity"

Sari Brody, Global Diversity and Leadership Manager at IKEA Group, tells Sonal Khetarpal about the company's continued emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
Sonal Khetarpal   Delhi     Print Edition: May 21, 2017

How do you approach diversity?

Diversity is good for business, but it is also a human right. It is integrated into everything we do - how we recruit, how we decide compensation, select infrastructure, and identify future leaders. We have to ensure every individual is treated equally and feels included.

How do you differentiate between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is about getting different kinds of people in. In the US, it is about race and nationality; in India, it is about gender and integrating the differently-abled; in Japan, it is about integrating the ageing population. Inclusion is creating the environment and infrastructure to enable and empower. Inclusion is essentially culture. It is the responsibility of every single employee, not just the manager.

What is the gender diversity index at IKEA?

Globally, 54 per cent of our co-workers are women - 48 per cent are in leadership positions. In the C-suite, it is 50:50. We are now working on having 50 per cent women leaders in all the countries we are present in, across departments and functions. In India, there are 46 per cent women in retail and 39-40 per cent in purchasing. But we are not resting, because if a company stops putting emphasis, it can very quickly slip back to the old ways.

What are IKEA's best practices towards a diverse culture?

We don't force diversity, so we don't have any quota or incentives. We do it because it is the right thing to do. We focus on emotional intelligence. It is self-awareness that leads to the mindset shift and the heart shift required for creating an inclusive culture. We organise workshops and presentations to make ourselves aware of our privileges and biases so we can introspect about our perceptions. That is where learning and change happen.

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