Small things matter
Building an inclusive culture requires big actions, but small steps can be equally important, says Camilla Wieslander, Managing Director of Skanska Commercial Development Nordic, a major Nordic developer. Here are some ways she's used diversity and inclusion to build one of the strongest property development organizations in the Swedish city of Malmö.
Over your career, what has changed about gender equality?
Since joining Skanska in 1995, I can see great changes in our company, and across society. Back then, there weren't many women working in advanced roles with construction or commercial project development, so I felt a little "different" or "awkward." Today, as a result of strong policies and actions, Skanska Commercial Development Nordic has almost equal numbers of men and women. I can see more and more women pursuing their careers to higher levels in Skanska and across different industries.
How to advance further with gender equality?
Becoming more gender equal requires organizations to expand their recruiting base. It also requires organizations to build inclusive cultures, a tough effort that involves changing employee mindsets. You have to ask yourself questions like, "Do I promote female leaders? Do women see it possible to advance in their careers in my team?" You need to work until people across your organization agree that the answers to those questions is "yes."
What's the best way to build an inclusive culture?
It is important to embrace the diversity of your people, and to make everyone feel included so they are motivated and able to contribute to their fullest potential. Find ways to involve your teams in key meetings, information flow, decisions, projects and workplace social life. If you want to have a workplace where everyone is at their best, you need to create the right conditions.
The importance of small steps
I have learned that even the small things matter, like scheduling meetings. If all the important meetings are at 7:30 am, some team members might never be able to attend. I know this as a mother of two now grown-up children, but it is not only parental duties. People might have special responsibilities for elderly parents, their own health issues or other personal matters that need to be taken into consideration.
I see creating an inclusive environment as my duty as a manager – and we are not only talking about men and women. Cultural and educational backgrounds, religions, nationalities, health, personal situations are some of the other dimensions.