Interview – “Companies that embrace diversity are more innovative, dynamic and attractive for the employees.” Veronika Pountcheva, METRO AG

Veronika Pountcheva 0066_1_

Why is Diversity such an important topic?  

At METRO, we believe that a diverse workforce reflecting our customers’ perspective, diversity of opinions, walks of life and experiences is essential to stand our ground against the competition and deliver top performance. Our industry is incredibly fast, competitive and facing disruptive developments. To be prepared for this and to be able to respond fast and flexibly it is essential for us to integrate diversity and inclusion.

Another important aspect: The generation of the so-called “Millenials” are not only gradually entering the job market, but will also constitute our future custom base. Their approach to diversity is strongly different from that of the preceding generations.

This is attributable to various factors. For one, they grew up in a global, networked world. If you think about the access to information they enjoy, their expectations in terms of transparency resulting from the fact that they are “digital natives”, and about the way they were raised by their parents in terms of perception of their own uniqueness: all this leads to an appreciation of themselves and to clearly formulated demands on their environment.

Companies that embrace diversity are more innovative, dynamic and attractive for the employees. We want to win the best talents in all 35 markets where METRO is active, and thereby meet their needs and expectations.

Placing the focus on diversity is simply the right thing to do.

What has been METRO AG’s contribution to gender equality so far?

Our managers are purposefully looking for diversity in teams. In our external and internal recruitment activities we strive to win the best candidates, both male and female, and are specifically looking for the female candidates.

We are actively involved in the LEAD initiative, a network that promotes female talents in the retail and FMCG sector; we support our employees’ “Women in Trade” initiative and we cooperate with female entrepreneurs and actively support them.

In 2018 we will launch a special program to accelerate the development of our female talents and support the management in their internal advancement.

Our management shows commitment, measures performance and sets the right tone from the top.

What are METRO AG’s diversity targets to be achieved in the near future?  

We have set clear targets for our management levels: Management Board members, key positions in the company and store managers – by 2022, 25% of these management positions are to be filled by women.

What is the company’s responsibility with regard to supporting women in their efforts to overcome gender-based hurdles?

First and foremost, we need to understand our talents, both female and male, and listen to them. What do you consider as obstacles to advancing faster, to being successful and to creating more value?

An environment conducive to equal participation of people with different backgrounds and lifestyles is essential for this.

During those periods when our female talents have to deal with special challenges, like for example balancing their career and family obligations, clear requirements and an appropriate level of support must have been defined for them to be successful.

Young mothers (and fathers) must be given access to information and platforms allowing them to stay in touch with their colleagues and in tune with the development of our business.

Talents must be identified, promoted and coached early on. METRO’s female leadership programme, which we will launch in 2018, will search for female talents along the complete pipeline and in all countries and corporate functions.  

Our top managers are committed mentors who invest time and effort to support the women in their development.    

What are the learnings of this study?

There is a need for stronger support of female entrepreneurs. 80 % of the respondents – men and women – seconded political programmes to support female start-up founders and entrepreneurs.

Published by Ariane Vera

Instagram: @arianeveramusic

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