The Corporate Executive Committee at Baloise has decided to make additional efforts to ensure more women have the opportunity for career advancement. In future, women must account for a third of all promotions given and positions filled at the company every year. In this article, Andreas Burckhardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors, talks about the topic of equal opportunities and how it can help us achieve our strategic goals.
By deciding to focus on competent women when considering employees for promotion, we are laying the foundations for greater balance in the workplace. Chairman of the Board of Directors Andreas Burckhardt is convinced that this decision will pay off in terms of helping us achieve our strategic goals: “Diverse teams come up with better solutions and create a more pleasant working environment, which has a positive effect on customer satisfaction and, in turn, results. Investors have also come to realise the value of looking at diversity in teams.” The aim is to ensure a significant increase in the number of women in upper-level management. We want to achieve this in the long term by ensuring that at least one-third of new hires and promotions are held by women.
«The focus should always be on the personality and skills of the individual concerned and what they bring to their team. Put simply, I want to see more varied influences – more diversity.»
In our view, the concept of diversity goes far beyond equal opportunities for men and women. “Ensuring a mix of educational backgrounds, skills, personalities, opinions, nationalities, age groups and genders is important to the Corporate Executive Committee and everyone on the Board of Directors. These are all factors which will have a significant impact on our success in the future.” As things stand, there is certainly room for improvement, particularly with regard to gender diversity in our management bodies. “We are already working on that”, confirms Andreas Burckhardt.
Striking the right balance between work and family commitments is important to us. It requires flexibility from the individual concerned, their line manager and their colleagues. After all, you cannot change biology.
«We cannot change biological circumstance, but we do have to keep it in mind and factor it in.»
When it comes to diversity, we no longer expect our employees to just talk about it – we expect them to internalise it. “Once it has been established that at least a third of all promotions are given to women, it will just become normal.” However, we will all have to be an example to those around us if we are to effect genuine, long-term change in people’s mentality. “You have to internalise it yourself first. For example, the next time there is a vacancy on the Board of Directors, I will look to fill it with a woman to further strengthen the diversity on the Board of Directors. Ideally, we would want a woman with a background in natural sciences or medicine. This does narrow the search parameters somewhat, but it is worth it – just like the 30 per cent target for promotions – as it will ensure a high level of diversity.”
When you bring together different people with different outlooks, conflict is inevitable, whether constructive or not. The important thing is to embrace it. “The culture at Baloise is all about being able to address issues, regardless of rank or role. Expressing opinions and recognising different opinions also means questioning your own opinion.” What does this mean for the future of our culture at Baloise? Andreas Burckhardt wants us “to focus on common objectives, but with different ideas as to how these objectives might be achieved. We have to be willing to pull in the same direction, despite our differences. By ensuring greater diversity at Baloise, we create value not only for ourselves as employees, but also for our investors and customers, who can benefit from a more competent, diverse business. This puts us in an ideal position to assume and minimise risk on behalf of our customers.”