International Women’s Day 2017 with Ahold Delhaize, LEAD Network Foundation Partner
Our Pledge for Creating an Inclusive Workplace
Wouter Kolk, CEO of Albert Heijn and Abbe Luersman, CHRO kicked off Ahold Delhaize’s International Women’s Day celebrations on the 8th of March at their head office in Zaandam, which was broadcasted to their European colleagues. They reflected on Ahold Delhaize’s unique position as an employer of 375,000 people worldwide, and how they have the opportunity to recruit a diverse workforce that reflects their market base and drives a corporate culture that instills respect for others. Ahold Delhaize has also been diversifying its workforce by opening position up to those from different educational backgrounds, rather than just those coming through the more traditional university route. They truly believe that when they have a diverse workforce, they have a better workplace.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michael Kimmel, Engaging Men to Support Gender Equality
Prof. Michael Kimmel, an American sociologist began by saying: “We cannot fully empower women and girls without engaging boys and men. We know this to be true. The question is then, how do we get men engaged in this conversation?”.
He provided three examples of ways in which this can happen. Making gender visible is key, as obliviousness is the first obstacle to bringing men onboard to the cause of gender equality. Men often start comprehending the issues that women and girls face when they are more aware of it.
Secondly, we need to tackle resistance by making the business case. Gender equality is good for business, and many men and women have the same profile – they want a great career and to have time for their families. If a company wants to recruit and retain the best talent, it needs to acknowledge how men and women are the same, rather than focusing on their differences.
Thirdly, the issue needs to become personal. In a study on what makes marriages succeed, it was found that what characterises successful marriages is equality in a relationship. The study showed that when men and women share housework and childcare, kids are happier and healthier and perform better in school, their wives are happier and healthier and the men themselves are healthier.
Accelerating Women into Leadership: Retail Roundtable discussions with members of the Ahold Delhaize and Albert Heijn Executive Teams
• Frances Franken, General Manager, Gall & Gall
• Jan Derek Groenendaal, General Manager, Etos
• Jan Ernst de Groot, Chief Legal Officer & Member Executive Committee, Ahold Delhaize
• Marc Croonen, Chief Sustainability, Transformation and Communications Officer & Member Executive Committee, Ahold Delhaize
A lively discussion followed with Executive Members of Ahold Delhaize’s teams, moderated by Prof. Kimmel. Frances, being the only woman in the panel, shared openly and honestly about how she navigated being a woman at a high level when her peers were primarily men. The panel representatives shared their ideas about getting more women in to work part time, and balancing their teams more equally.
Jan Derek shared that 94% of Etos’ workforce are female and that Etos has taken a structured and proactive policy approach whereby they budget for pregnancies and factor in that the person will need to be replaced. After identifying a primary reason for absenteeism in women over 40, they found ways to help their employees balance their home lives better with work. In response, Dr. Kimmel shared the story of a CEO in Australia who implemented a policy whereby women on maternity leave came once a week for lunch with their team, and brought their babies with them. By implementing this policy response, the employee retention rate of the company increased to 70%.
Roundtable discussion on how to unlock the potential of our talent and diversity of our organization to strengthen our performance from the store floor
• Benno Jaspers (Albert Heijn)
• Desiree Boonman (Gall & Gall)
• Jelle Takkenberg (Etos)
• Josanne Nielsen (Albert Heijn)
• Merlin Wetzels (Albert Heijn)
• Rutger Anema (Albert Heijn)
With employees from 101 nationalities working for Ahold Delhaize, Nic Brassey, Senior VP of HR for Albert Heijn led a discussion on unlocking talent within diverse teams. There was a general consensus that many corporate cultures still need to change in their attitudes to part-time work. In many cases, it is hard to achieve a managerial level if you only work 4 out of 5 days (which is very common in the Netherlands for those who have children), and often it is very acceptable for women to ask to work part-time, but for men it is less so.
Nic asked why they thought that there are less women at the top levels, given the statistic that 95% of Dutch CEOs are male. The panelists agreed that it is important to set good role models but not because of gender. We need to allow for the uniqueness of individuals which means that we will work in different ways. Moving away from thinking about numbers and hours to performance will take time, but will be key to getting the best out of your workforce.