LEAD Newsletter METRO Special Interview International Women’s Day – March 2018
How did your company celebrate International Women’s Day this year?
METRO celebrated the International Women’s Day with many activities around that day.
At the Campus in Düsseldorf, already on the 6th of March, the METRO internal women’s network Women in Trade (WiT) hosted this year’s conference. Theme of this year: “Be Bold, follow your passion – learn from strong business owners”.
The conference highlighted the entrepreneur in business and inspired the participants to find their personal passion. On 8th March, the 2nd part of the METRO International Own Business Study was published. This part of the study focuses on female entrepreneurs. It shows that women take a strong interest in entrepreneurship: 45% dream of starting their own business. But when it comes to the realization of this dream there is a gap: Only 12% of these women think it is “very likely”, that they will turn their ambition into reality. What prevents them from starting a business? There are several reasons. But one stands out: “insufficient financial support” is the top answer with 49%. For this reason, on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2018 METRO blazed a trail for female entrepreneurship, and launched its “Own Business Girls” campaign. Every girl born on this day in the city of Düsseldorf receives her first own business card each worth of 2,000 euros of starting capital which they will be able to access on their 18th birthday. The money will be invested in a fixed term deposit with 2% interest rate per year as a springboard to professional independence. On 12th March, METRO & The Coca-Cola Company hosted a Diversity Movie Night at the cinema. It was an exciting and informative evening. Before the movie started, the METRO AG Management Board and the Management of The Coca-Cola Company reflected on the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in a short panel discussion and discussed diversity and gender topics with more than 150 employees.
At each country where METRO operates, IWD was celebrated differently, e.g. METRO Pakistan celebrated IWD with a full week on Diversity. METRO Germany has started its local women’s network and METRO France invited employees to a lunch time conference about values driven by gender equality, for employees at the headquarter and the stores in Paris region.
Why is diversity & inclusion important within your company and what initiatives have you taken?
METRO is a people business. Diversity is core to our company’s principles and a success driver to uncover new business opportunities. Our top management promotes Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) as part of the strategic agenda. Furthermore, we integrate gender diversity at all levels in the organisation by placing the topic on the country agendas and linking it to our business, as the “Own business day”. METRO is operating in 25 countries and 151 nationalities work worldwide for METRO. One of our initiatives is our LEAD & Win Training. This program was started last year and each manager will take part. D&I is a core part of it and specific trainings bring the topic of diversity & inclusion closer to the management. METRO is also actively involved in different Diversity initiatives like Charta der Vielfalt, LEAD, Prout at Work. And finally our employee networks like Women in Trade (WiT) and METRO Pride are very engaged in the Diversity topic.
How do you keep the momentum after International Women’s Day?
Diversity is part of our strategy and integrated at all levels of our business as mentioned before. The topic is constantly raised in all of our discussions and decisions. METRO’s Leadership promotes the topic and includes it in the country agenda. In 2016/2017 METRO developed an international diversity strategy with the aim of promoting inclusion & diversity, which we continuously follow. Our employee network Women in Trade started a Mentoring Program 3 years ago, which is repeated year on year. WiT also organises quarterly Business Lunches (with e.g. female customers) to keep the topic on the table. This is an extract of all activities which we are doing to keep the discussion on going through the whole year.
What advice would you have for other companies in the industry if they want to organize a similar event?
Doing not trying! I personally really like LEAD’s theme of this year, it reflects my personal belief. Generally my recommendation would be start by including all your stakeholders into the gender diversity discussion. From senior management to all of your employees, via your suppliers, through to your customers … and don’t forget to combine it with an event with a lot of fun.
Laura Halfas, Head of Corporate Responsibility, METRO AG