By Hamed Mahmoud
Around the world, families, organisations and companies came together on March 8, to celebrate International Women’s Day, which this year was being held under the theme of #ChooseToChallenge. Globally, businesses will be self-examining, looking at their practices, hoping to identify areas where they can make changes and challenge gender bias, while at the same time celebrating their achievements.
Ericsson is no different – and we have much to be proud of. In fact, ‘choosing to challenge’ is very much in our DNA, and one our founders, Hilda Simonssan – the wife of founder Lars Magnus Ericsson – very much personified the meaning of International Women’s Day ahead of its time.
In the late 1800s, Simonsson – or Stina, as she was affection ally known by Magnus – refused to play what was then the ‘traditional’ role of a woman in society, taking an important role winding electromagnetic coils with satin-coated copper wire. Another early member of the Ericsson team, Hanna Hammarström, exported wire to Finland and led a team of eight – all women whom she trained herself.
“These women were our pioneers. The legacy they left is what created the possibilities for me and all the other women in the Ericsson family to be engaged and take on the leadership responsibilities and make business impact today,” said Eva Andren, Vice President and Head of Managed Services at Ericsson Middle East and Africa.
In Ericsson’s case, the numbers speak for themselves: 25% of the overall workforce was female by 2019, as well as 20% of line managers, 32% of executives, 21% of the leadership team and a quarter of the Board of Directors.
Looking ahead to the future, Fida Kibbi, Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communications for Ericsson in the Middle East and Africa, said: “Even as we look forward to celebrating our achievements on International Women’s Day – particularly here in the Middle East and Africa – we are very cognizant of the fact that that we cannot rest on our laurels. We will continue to work hard to keep up Ericsson’s legacy as a place that welcomes women, values our contributions to the organisation and has created an environment in which we can succeed and be at an equal playing field with our male counterparts.”
“Ericsson has been a longtime supporter of International Girls in ICT Day, which is aiming to create a positive global environment to empower and encourage young women to choose a field in ICT. That’s just one of the ways we are supporting the education of women and girls,” said Isil Yalcin, Vice President and Head of Ericsson Turkey within Market Area Middle East and Africa. “We are well aware of the fact that jobs in the ICT sector have significant potential to help us achieve gender equality and female empowerment goals.”
“We’re very proud that as an organisation we have undertaken a number of initiatives , largely based on behavioural science, in which we looked at some of our people processes like hiring, performance and succession management,” said Natalia Mochales, Vice President and Head of Compliance for Ericsson Middle East and Africa. “We’re actively looking to mitigate the risk of unconscious bias having an impact on our employee lifecycle. We look forward to continuing this effort, which we see as a vital part of our future efforts to create the optimal environment in the workplace.
“The female members of the Ericsson team in Middle East and Africa have benefited enormously from the resources available to us, which also include global groups to support, promote and drive an inclusive environment,” added Nora Wahby, Vice President and Head of Ericsson West Africa and Morocco. “ “We’re proud of what we have achieved in terms of gender inclusion at Ericsson,” adds Sena Erten, Vice President and Head of People for Ericsson Market Area Middle East and Africa. “But there remains work to be done. We aim to have 30% of our workforce made up of female employees and are actively taking steps to see what else we can do to bolster that number. As a company, we remain focused on this role.”