In this chapter:
The Volvo Group is a large, multinational company and as such diversity and inclusion are fundamental to long-term success.
The Volvo Group seeks to recruit and retain a broad spectrum of employees with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. The long-term target is that the Group’s employee and management pool at all levels and in all operations should reflect the diversity of the world in which the Volvo Group does business.
Working with diversity is about increasing awareness of the advantages diversity brings and the often subtle reasons why human systems can consciously or unconsciously exclude people who are different from the accepted norm. It is about working with attitudes, which can require different approaches in different cultural contexts.
The Volvo Group has a three-pronged approach; targets are set, training resources are developed and the work with diversity is coordinated on a global scale. Because diversity is a key factor in business performance, the diversity targets are set as a part of the corporate strategic objective process and broken down by division. Finally, the country organizations develop additional plans to promote diversity and inclusion which are tailored to the specific local context and which support corporate and division goals.
Diversity and inclusion policy
As a matter of policy, discrimination with regard to gender, gender identity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion, union affiliation, disabilities and social or ethnic origin is not tolerated.
Diversity and inclusion are promoted in the Code of Conduct and in the Diversity and Inclusion Policy which underlines the managerial responsibility of working to increase diversity and create an inclusive environment.
Training for managers
One of the key initiatives to ensure a culture of diversity and inclusiveness is to train managers. In 2012 the Volvo Group continued to conduct Diversity and Inclusive Leadership (DIL) training courses for managers. The interactive DIL training program focuses on the importance of inclusion, which is mandatory in order to take advantage of the benefits of diversity. The training is run by in-house trainers, meaning employees who have completed a certification process. By the end of 2012, the Volvo Group had 120 certified facilitators located across the globe.
Employee diversity networks
For nearly 10 years the Volvo Group has used Employee Diversity Networks to help empower minorities and provide feedback to management on how to best increase inclusiveness and remove roadblocks. Since 2011 the number of groups increased from 8 to 10, working either locally or globally covering women employees, women managers, women in technical fields, multi-cultural issues and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) employees, and the door is open for other groups addressing additional aspects of diversity.
Examples of recent initiatives
Battle of the Numbers
The Volvo Group is one of ten large companies headquartered in Sweden which are participating in the Battle of the Numbers program – a unique project aiming to get more women into operative management positions. The project started at the end of 2012 and runs over a period of one year.
Instead of the management analyzing how the company should work to attract, recruit, develop and retain more female talent to operating and decision making roles, the participating companies use the best consultants within this area – the women themselves.
For the Battle of the Numbers, each company has selected ten soon-to-be or existing female managers. These 100 women will identify obstacles and opportunities when it comes to getting women into operative management positions. They will examine how the management roles are designed, what career paths look like, how women are recognized and treated within the organizations, as well as other issues that are relevant for creating an environment conducive to getting more women into management positions.
Conclusions and experiences from the project will be made public at the end of the project in 2013.
Sign language courses in Brazil
Since 2007 sign language courses have been offered to all Volvo Group employees in Brazil who are interested in learning this language and becoming more familiar with the culture and dynamics of hearing-impaired individuals. The Group currently has 82 hearing-impaired employees in Brazil, which represent 47 percent of the employees with physical disabilities.
The course is offered during normal working hours and has three levels – basic, intermediate and advanced. So far 160 employees have participated in the courses. The attendance for the medical staff is mandatory.
So far 160 employees have participated in the sign language courses. The attendance for the medical staff is mandatory.
One recent project is the production of training materials for hearing-impaired employees. Thanks to the collaboration between technical training experts, hearing-impaired employees and two deaf students, the Volvo Group was the first company in the State of Paraná and one of the first in Brazil to create special material to train employees with special learning needs.
It is a challenge for the automotive industry to attract women. One way of overcoming this challenge is to focus on diversity at the recruitment stage.
The Volvo Group requires at least one woman and one man on each recruitment panel and that all white collar positions should be openly posted for at least ten business days. This transparency helps prevent recruitment through exclusive networks.
Over the last five years the percentage of female employees has remained mostly constant. In 2012 17 percent of the Group’s global workforce were women, compared with 18 percent in 2011.
During the 2011 reorganization, the number of women in the Group Executive Team was increased to 20 percent or 3 out of 15, where it stands today. Concerning women in senior executive positions, they represented 19 percent in 2012, up from 17 percent in 2011.
The Volvo Group has a long-term ambition to increase the number of women in executive teams, while also striving to take into account other important parameters in terms of diversity, such as educational background, professional experience, age and nationality.
Two key performance indicators are used to measure diversity: the Balanced Team Indicator and the Inclusiveness index.
The Balanced Team Indicator is a quantitative measure for diversity covering nationality, gender, age and experience from different Volvo Group companies.
The Inclusiveness index is designed to follow up qualitative aspects, meaning the extent to which employees judge their work place to be inclusive.
The results of the indicators, as well as improvement action plans are followed up in management forums. The results for 2012 show mixed results with improvements in certain areas and remaining challenges in others.