Equality and new work concepts as a formula for success
Stepping out of the comfort zone – Wine-growing entrepreneurs, part-time managers and working dads
On 8th March we celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s focus is: Equal opportunities and equality of women and men. As in previous years, a large variety of events, forums and discussion groups are held under the hashtag #EmbraceEquity. Given our experiences during the corona pandemic, we at imc already asked ourselves last year, whether the crises undid decades of progress on the path to gender equality. As part of a roundtable discussion that included many external guests, we looked at the topic of “Women in the Hybrid Working World”. This generated a wealth of new and thought-provoking ideas. We wanted to know what has changed since last year, and how equality is realised. So, we asked our Executive Board and our colleagues.
Part-time manager: Career with time for family
The return from maternity leave did not go according to plan. Lockdown made the envisioned full-time role impossible, as Sabine Sauer and her husband faced challenges many other couples were only too familiar with. They needed to balance two 40-hour working weeks with childcare. Sabine decided to reduce her hours in her sales role at imc. Her employer’s reaction was a thoroughly positive experience: “It was very straightforward. As a woman, I was given the opportunity to do a cool job without the full-time commitment.”
When talking to Sabine, it is obvious that she loves her job. “Improving processes and driving communication between departments is extremely important to me.” A few weeks ago, she was promoted to Head of Account Management. This came completely unexpected for her. “I think it’s really cool that my employer trusts me to handle this role even though I don’t work full time. There would be no chance of that happening at other companies.”
However, reactions to her promotions were often more reserved in her private circle. She would hear comments such as “How are you going to manage?” or “Is that not a bit much for you?”. The sportsmanship of the former marathon runner and triathlete shines through in how she handles these doubts. “You only improve when you step out of the comfort zone.” Sabine has learned to push through and encourages other women: “You will achieve a lot with good organisation and structure.”
Working dad: Co-parenting as a family model
In recent years, a thorough change has become apparent among many fathers. They are no longer satisfied with being a weekend or leisure dad. Fathers now value family time as an important asset. Kenneth Littlepage – aka Kenny – is the proud dad of a 2-year old daughter. He made a conscious decision for parental leave. “There are various ways you can plan parental leave. We opted for a hybrid version, where I would work three days a week and my wife would work two.”
Kenny highlights that this model not only strengthened his relationship with his daughter, but also that with his wife. Both him and his wife would look after their daughter, handle the household chores and take responsibility for everything else on the days the other party was at work. Neither was exempted from any particular task. This helped him experience his child in a totally different way as a father. He also had to learn that everyday life is difficult to plan with a child, and some flexibility is always required.
He is very thankful that his employer offers flexibility and praises the new hybrid work model that imc introduced after the pandemic. “You can decide whether you want to work in the office or from home. That puts me and my wife on an equal footing. We have the same opportunity to coordinate our schedules and support each other.”
Between the office and vineyards: 2 jobs, 100% satisfaction
Simone Weber, Instructional Designer at imc, can confirm that equality extends far beyond the family context. About ten years ago, she took over her parents’ winegrowing business, cultivating the six-hectare vineyard together with her husband – on the side. Simone loves her work on the vineyards, which offers her a perfect balance to the “brain-work” at imc.
Leading a 20-member Instructional Design team, her days are filled with appointments and consultations. The vine is at the other end of the scale. “I am outside, all by myself. I listen to audio books or podcasts. Nobody speaks to me. It is really quite meditative.”
Simone appreciates the flexibility offered, but also wants to give something in return: “The grape harvest starts on a different date each year. I can take a 2-week holiday at the right time, whether that is in September or in October. My employer has always been accommodating in that regard. I will say though, that I am also willing to be flexible. If a meeting requires me to be on location, I don’t mind staying a little longer. There are times where you give, and times where you receive. I believe you need to maintain a balance – and that works quite well at imc.”
Self-reflection at the core of the imc diversity programmes
Equality and fairness – at imc, these two topics are not reserved for International Women’s Day.
Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy, has been heading the empowerHer Programme for almost four years, supporting women and young talents. She experienced many different aspects in her own career, both highs and lows. This is why fairness is so important to her now: ““Fairness means that we need to get rid of personal, unreflected prejudices and judgments, and biased, preferential treatment in order to create a fair and equitable world. Each and every one of us can actively support that within their own sphere of influence.”
Sven R. Becker, Member of the imc Executive Board, also emphasises that a holistic view of equality is necessary, and that it cannot be reduced to gender alone. “We need to look at a bigger picture of equality. It encompasses a variety in opinion, in work practices and much more. The most important thing is to self-reflect on everything you say,” he concludes. “In the end, it is people – not measures – who make diversity and inclusion thrive in a company.”
Thus, all of the company’s diversity programmes – from female leadership to inclusion – have self-reflection at their very core. Sven R. Becker aims to set a good example at all times. “I try to pay attention to my own words, and the effect those words have. And that is what I would like to see in others.”
Members of the imc Diversity Movement Gather to Celebrate Successful Year
In order to establish diversity and inclusion as broadly as possible in our organisation, we launched a D&I programme – a programme organised by our employees, for our employees.
Diversity and Inclusion at imc: How We Are Continuing to Walk the Talk
Diversity and inclusion is now an integral part of our corporate culture here at imc. Our workdays are generally pretty busy, obviously, but we will always find the time to champion this important issue and generate awareness of our initiatives.
I've been part of the Marketing & Communication team at imc since 2014. My hear beats for creative campaigns, exiting content and digital innovations. My goal is to make digitization tangible - understandable and simple to the point. My passion besides my job are good books and sports. I'm always happy to receive feedback at [email protected].