Vestas' approach to diversity and inclusion
Senior Director and Head of Sustainability at Vestas
Published on 23rd of June 2020
This year, we launched our new sustainability strategy, entitled “Sustainability in everything we do”, where we formalised our commitment to becoming the most inclusive workplace in the energy industry.
At Vestas, we believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce is vital for accelerating the green energy transition globally. We know that our differences make us stronger, more innovative, and better equipped to address the challenges of the future. Therefore, we are committed to make sure that all current and future Vestas employees are guaranteed equal opportunities regardless of social identity. Everyone must feel safe, valued, and know that their voice will be heard. This journey has only just begun - together, we will keep moving forward and become sustainable in everything we do.
As a first step, we’ll be focusing on improving gender diversity within the company, by introducing concrete targets to improve the number of females in leadership positions to 25 percent by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030.
In the next couple of years we will also introduce commitments that focus on diversity beyond gender, ensuring inclusion broadly across all our employee experience. This initiative is led by Anne Engemann, Head of Global Reward and Diversity and Inclusion. I met with her this week to discuss our approach on how we are going to become the most inclusive workplace in the energy industry.
Anne, please start by introducing yourself?
I have a Master of Science in Economics, Business Administration and Organisational Strategy. I have worked for Vestas for 12 years, all 12 years in the People and Culture department. Today, I am the Head of Global Reward and Diversity & Inclusion.
How have you been involved in developing this target?
From May 2019 I took the lead on Vestas’ efforts on Diversity and Inclusion. When Vestas sustainability strategy was approved in October 2019, I was happy to see that diversity and inclusion became one of the four primary goals. This is very encouraging, as it places this topic in a position of high priority and strategic importance for Vestas
What does diversity & inclusion mean and why it is important?
Diversity is bringing differences of thought, experience, and identity to the table. Inclusion is making sure everyone is heard and their input is valued. We believe that a diverse workforce will improve teamwork and collaboration, ensure a focus on innovation and creativity, nurture employee engagement, and promote organisational responsiveness and agility; all of which are key for maintaining a high-performance organisation.
Settling for homogeneity might be easy, but it doesn’t foster progress or improvement. In our global footprint, we already know the importance of ensuring collaboration across differences. In order to ensure that our entire workforce thrives we need to value inclusion in all aspects from how we work with our customers and suppliers, to acting as leaders and colleagues. Inclusion is therefore an integrated part of Vestas values and leadership behaviours.
Another important aspect of diversity and inclusion is to ensure equal access to opportunity regardless of social identity. That means building a workplace that embraces all perspectives, spanning a broad spectrum of social identities, such as genders, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, sexual orientations, religions or ages. As an organisation, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination. All employees are reminded to direct any complaints involving harassment, discrimination or retaliation to the People and Culture department.
What does it mean to become the most diverse and inclusive workplace in the energy industry?
We believe that we can achieve true diversity by ensuring that Vestas represents the societies we are part of. A committed focus on inclusion is the way to get there. Ensuring inclusion as a fundamental aspect of every part of the employee experience will ensure we become the workplace we want to be.
How is Vestas doing today in terms of diversity and inclusion? What initiatives are currently in place?
Vestas is currently on par with our industry on diversity and inclusion. Our committed targets are on gender diversity and even though we consider diversity much broader than just gender, gender diversity is an important first step for us and is generally used as a measurable indicator of progress on diversity. Our industry is in general challenged by a low representation of females in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) roles and across all Vestas employees, only 13 percent are females. Furthermore, only 19percent of leadership positions at Vestas are held by females. Because of this challenge, Vestas must take the topic even more seriously and consider how to make progress in the best way possible.
We are taking a thorough approach to the challenge working both with our industry peers, with local and global task forces representing the wind industry, and with our suppliers and customers. Last week, our CEO, Henrik Andersen, signed a pledge to prioritise the fundamentals of gender diversity, as part of an initiative run by The Diversity Council in Denmark. We are very aware that our goal of becoming the most inclusive organisation in the energy industry is a continuous process with no set destination. It is an approach that must be woven into the very fabric of the organisation.
To facilitate this process, we have appointed regional Diversity & Inclusion partners that are actively involved in launching new D&I initiatives in their own regions. This way, we can make sure that all initiatives are integrated respectfully towards local history, opinions, and culture.
What initiatives have been launched to move the company towards the targets of 25 percent women in leadership positions by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030?
2020 is the first year where our commitment to diversity and inclusion has been formalised within our sustainability strategy. We have started our initiatives with an external audit of our pay structures with a focus on gender, nationality and age, a review of our recruitment process and will work towards having diversity and inclusion embedded in all our talent and leadership programmes.
This is only the first step. We know the long-term actions will need special attention towards the retention of our female talents and ensuring an inclusive culture
Why is Vestas especially focusing on gender equality?
Gender diversity is a pressing issue in the wind industry, with 65 percent of women in wind found to perceive gender-related barriers at work, in comparison to 34 percent of men. Vestas is committing to prevent this issue from proliferating as the wind industry grows.
While gender diversity is considered a fair measure of diversity in the workforce, we recognise that it is not the full measure of diversity of an organisation, and we are also committed to improving other measures of diversity and representation within our workforce. This is one step forward in a long process.
Is the target ambitious enough?
Compared to other industries that are working towards a goal of 50/50 gender distribution, the targets may not seem ambitious. At Vestas however, our workforce is just 13 percent female, with a current level of 19 percent in leadership positions. In light of this we view these targets as highly ambitious and, we believe they require significant changes across the organisation.
By showing our ambitious goals for diversity and inclusion we also believe we are increasing our attractiveness as an employer. We want to show, both internally and to the world, that we value and celebrate our differences. All Vestas employees must feel like their contribution matters, that their perspective contributes to Vestas’ growth.
If you have any questions regarding Vestas’ sustainability strategy or any of our targets, please do not hesitate to contact the Sustainability Department at firstname.lastname@example.org