By Patricio Torres
Market Head Nestlé Anglo Dutch Caribbean
This month, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled Why Gender, Diversity and Inclusion is Good for Business, hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM TT). I am always honoured to represent Nestlé in these important discussions, ready to share our Diversity, Inclusion & Gender Balance experiences and why embracing our differences makes us stronger.
Members of the Panel Discussion on Why Gender, Diversity and Inclusion is Good for Business
Left to Right: Rocío Medina-Bolivar – IDB Bank Country Representative, Nirad Tewarie- CEO AMCHAM, Stéphanie Oueda – Head of Gender Diversity and Inclusion IDB Invest, Javier Torre – Human Resources Manager Central Puerto, Lisa-Marie Alexander – Country Chief Marketing Officer JMMB, Patricio Torres – Market Head Anglo Dutch Caribbean Nestlé.
I believe it is a professional right to be allowed to grow within an organisation regardless of gender, race or religion. No one wants to work for a company that does not respect this. It is critical therefore that organizations build a solid culture of diversity and inclusion. In the Anglo-Dutch Caribbean, we have been working very hard over the last 5 years through our Gender, Diversity & Inclusion steering committee on further embedding this culture. We have implemented several initiatives and programmes geared towards engendering a more diverse workforce where female leadership is encouraged and rewarded.
We focus on three main pillars:
Bold leadership - ensuring that senior executives take accountability for driving our diversity agenda
Empowering Culture - ensuring that we educate employees on unconscious biases through training
Enabling Practices - to ensure that we nurture female leadership in the organization through:
- Equal pay policies
- Mentorship programmes
- Networking opportunities
- Exposure with Senior leaders at Nestlé
- Training and development - cross functional rotations, stretch assignments and international missions
- Flexible work options such as extended parental leave including employees that are adoptive parents, and return to work support
- Flexi-time, telecommuting (working from home) and career breaks
- On-site sports club, canteen, lactation room, parking for expectant mothers
We also recognize that in order to build and sustain gender balance amongst leaders in non-traditional female roles at our factory and warehouses, we must create the right environment to develop a steady female talent pipeline in non-traditional roles even at the entry level. We build this through programmes such as our ADC Young Females Programme and N-Power Technical Management Trainee Programme, offering hands-on learning opportunities with performance feedback and structured mentorship.
Today I am proud to report that through disciplined implementation of these plans, we have consistently increased our level of female leaders and now we have 60% female managers across the organization and 58% females on our senior management team.
It is important that our company reflects the evolution of society - meeting the needs of our consumers and aspirations of our employees alike. 80% of consumers making purchasing decisions about our products are females. It makes business sense therefore to ensure we build a strong pipeline of female leaders, and I believe it gives us a competitive advantage.
Gender balance, diversity and inclusion is an important topic, critical to the survival of businesses today.
What we have also learnt over the years is that we must treat each employee according to his or her personal goals and aspirations as well as their stage of life. With this in mind, we place great emphasis on ensuring that our employee population is built on diversity and inclusion, including among our three generations – Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. Through reverse mentoring, I have learnt a lot from our Millennials who feel a lot more comfortable sharing their views and opinions than any other generation.
The blend between the new and the old so to speak is critical, and here diversity and inclusion takes on another meaning and helps build our culture as a Company whose purpose is based on respect. We respect each other in an environment where everyone is given the tools to carry out their different roles effectively and in an environment that is conducive to them succeeding. All generations work together for the same goal, the success of the company and their personal success as well.
We have also been increasing our commitment to hiring differently-abled youth each year through our ADC Strength through Diversity Youth Programme. This year, we are partnering with the National Youth Service in Jamaica and Ministry of Social Development in Trinidad, and will hire two in Jamaica, two in Trinidad and one in Guyana. We continue the ongoing upgrade our infrastructure each year to ensure we have the right accommodations to facilitate the success of our employees on the job.
The Nestlé Team at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM TT) panel discussion titled, Why gender, diversity and inclusion is good for business
We will continue taking actions that embed diversity and inclusion into our way of life. In March this year, Nestlé launched its revised Gender Balance Acceleration Plan, which includes our commitment to increasing the proportion of women in the group’s top 200 senior executive positions from around 20% currently to 30% by 2022. It is a further step in Nestlé’s journey towards gender parity.
I look forward to further driving the culture of embracing our differences to make us stronger.