Gender and Generations – Diversity as an Engine for Corporate Success – Mondi attends European Forum Alpbach, Austria

Wed, 9. September 2020
Diversity & inclusion, Careers
diversity and inclusion, talent, employer of choice
by Newsroom

Peter Orisich, CEO Flexible Packaging & Engineering Materials and Beatrix Praeceptor, Chief Procurement Officer & Group lead for the D&I taskforce attended the Forum to contribute, listen and learn – here is what they had to say on the subject.


Why is the subject of diversity and inclusion (D&I) so important for Mondi?

BP: We want to attract talented, diverse people from all generations and ethnicities who believe in making a difference and contribute to our success with their individual strengths and capabilities.

As a global company offering packaging and paper solutions to over 9,000 customers and living in a constantly changing world, we need a range of different perspectives, strengths and approaches to respond to these challenges.

Since 2018, Mondi has taken a refreshed and broader view on D&I with the aim of creating a sustainable and inclusive culture that is an attractive place to work today and tomorrow.


Do you have examples of how you champion diversity in your company? 

BP: In 2018, we established a taskforce with the aim to review our D&I policy and create momentum for more change. For example, we looked at our recruitment approach to ensure fair and non-discriminatory working practices. Other initiatives include a female leaders network, partnerships with local organisations to address disability in the workplace, conscious inclusion training for the senior management team and a number of other approaches to address this important issue. Attending Forums such as at Alpbach also offer us a platform to share our opinions and learn from others. 

Where do you see the biggest challenges in working with different generations?

PO: I think it is all about learning by sharing experiences. At Mondi, we are passionate that our senior leaders share their experiences of leadership, industry knowledge and operational excellence while also recognising that the current and next generation offers expertise and perspective that is necessary to prepare for future challenges.

This is why we introduced a reverse mentoring scheme to provide a platform for colleagues with different levels of seniority to leverage the best of both skills, experience and approach with a focus on excellence, innovation and efficiency.

We have also set up our next Generation initiative to establish a diverse talent pipeline.

Where do you see the greatest challenges for diversity programmes?

BP: One of our greatest strengths is the geographic, cultural and personal diversity of our business. As a global and local employer, operating in over 30 countries we recognise the cultural differences across our network and seek to consider local issues when driving towards an inclusive workforce (e.g. through D&I workshops held at a number of our plants).

Gender diversity is one of the most prominent issues for us in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. The processes and policies we have in place alongside individual behaviour willl support our aim towards a better balance. For example, internally we have introduced gender inclusive language training and externally we have signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. We are clear that we are committed to driving positive change. 


Why is diversity essential to innovation, creativity and future success?

PO: There is a definition of innovation that says “innovation is making ideas happen.” Diversity is about generating ideas, as it brings us varied perspectives and behaviour, which helps us to make better decisions, find new solutions, continue to be innovative and by doing so gives us a more holistic approach. Inclusion is about making these ideas happen by enabling an open process of communication and exchange across our organisation. As a result, we can better serve our global reach of customers, colleagues and the communities in which we operate.


What is the status in your organisation with regard to gender and generation diversity? 

BP: Since 2018, Mondi has taken a refreshed and broader view on D&I and established a taskforce with the aim of creating a sustainable and inclusive culture.

We currently have 21% women in the Group as a whole, and 30% on the Board – we know we need to do more to close the gap and are working hard to deliver on this and it does not just stop there. At Mondi we see diversity and inclusion through the lens of three "levers": gender, generation and ethnicity.

By introducing our digital HR tool we will also gain much more transparency allowing us to derive appropriate measures towards a more balanced mix. 

Which qualifications are important for the talent of tomorrow?

PO: A very central value for Mondi is "Passion for Performance". The second value we hold firm on is “caring". We want our colleagues and leaders to hold both values as well as the curiosity for diversity, international challenges and the willingness to go the extra mile. 

The Packaging and Paper industry is traditionally known to be male- dominated. Can "female leaders networks" really change this? And how do male colleagues react to this?

PO: We do not see change being driven by one single factor but rather a journey that we want to take all our colleagues on. The purpose of our female leaders network is to create an open exchange for women and for them to benefit from the variety of experiences by using a cross-hierarchical approach. This not only enables much better visibility of women in the company, but also more effectiveness. As for our male colleagues, I think it always starts with curiosity but as a business we understand the clear advantages of operating a diverse and inclusive business and we have seen support for our network grow.

European Forum Alpbach is an interdisplinary platform for science, politics, business and culture. Established in 1945, the annual European Forum Alpbach addresses relevant socio-political questions, connecting international decision-makers from all our sectors of society with an interested audience and committed young people.

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