Volvo Group Diversity & Inclusion Stories

Volvo Group signs unique diversity pledge

Volvo Group signs unique diversity pledge

Volvo Group is one of more than fifty leading European companies in the industrial and technological sector that have signed on to the first pan-European commitment of its kind, promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

To be committed to create the right environment and conditions for all employees to reach their full potential – that is the promise. The pledge, called #EmbraceDifference, states that diversity is not just about gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. It is about welcoming a full range of talents from across the entire spectrum of society.

#EmbraceDifference is an initiative by the European Round Table of Industrialists, a forum bringing together around 55 chief executives and chairpersons of major multinational companies. The pledge is summarized in six topics: An inclusive culture, inclusive leadership, aspiration and goal setting, clear responsibility, equal opportunities, and societal engagement and responsibility.

Read more about the commitment
Volvo Group has started initiatives for an increased gender equality

Towards increased gender equality

Working towards a more gender-balanced culture and representation is important for the Volvo Group. Several concrete initiatives are ongoing.

One example is at Volvo Buses. They have started their journey to increase diversity and inclusion by setting a target to hire 50% women out of all newly employed people.

“We strive to have an open culture where people work together and share ideas. To keep us competitive we need people with different genders, age, nationalities and cultures – simply different kinds of thinking,” says Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses.

Increasing the number of female project managers on the top vehicle projects at Group Trucks Technology is another example.

“We think that increasing the number of women in project management is a way to increase the diversity of perspectives and by that decrease the potential risks in a project,” says Bruno Venturi, Vice President Project Office.

Volvo Group Diversity and inclusion labs

How diversity drives creativity

We are more creative in diverse environments – that is one reason why diversity is so important in a workplace. And when everyone in a group feels safe to express their ideas, the group actually performs better.

People tend to trust people who are like themselves. And even if that bias is not meant to be hurtful, it causes an exclusive environment that inhibits creativity. At Volvo Group these questions are highly prioritized and discussed in workshops that are held on a regular basis and called Diversity & Inclusion Labs. The purpose of the Labs is to challenge the participants’ unconscious bias.

One of the Labs facilitator explains: “We work harder, think more and are more inspired in diverse environments. And, if we also feel included, we don’t hold back with our ideas or energy. Studies show that homogeneous teams have the impression that they are very efficient. But, in laboratory tests, mixed teams had far better results even though they had the impression that the process was not as smooth and less efficient.” 

Mina Mirhendi, standardization engineer at Volvo Group

Room to grow for women in engineering

In most countries and industries, there are fewer women than men in the fields of engineering. This does not stop Mina Mirhendi, standardization engineer at Volvo Group, to aim for the top. “I feel that Volvo Group gives me this opportunity,” she says.

Mina moved to Gothenburg from Iran to study materials engineering and joined Volvo Group in 2017.

“Before I joined, my perception was that it is a high-tech company, and this has proven to be accurate. I’ve discovered that there is also a strong sense of teamwork, trust and mutual respect. Volvo Group gives its employees room to develop.”

Mina describes her job as very challenging, but she is ready to do what it takes to continue develop.

“One day, I would like to become an expert in my field of technology. To achieve this, I need to constantly improve my knowledge and be able to contribute ideas on what can be improved in my field,” she concludes.

Elinore Axelsson at Volvo Group has the power to influence her work

The power to influence my work

Growing up, Elinore Axelsson was one of those kids who loved everything science related: physics, math, mechanics – she found it all fascinating. “When I was 15 and about to apply for the natural science program at high school, I went to see the guidance counselor and she said, ‘don’t do it, it’s probably going to be too hard for you’,” Elinore says.

“She knew nothing about my grades or me – her assumptions were based on the little blonde girl sitting in front of her. But her words didn’t knock my confidence; in fact, they made me even more determined!” Elinore went on to study civil engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. She joined Volvo Group in 1995 and since then she has held seven different positions across the organization.

“What continues to motivate me to this day is my ability to influence the place I work, to continuously learn new things, and work with people,” she says. “If I could speak to my 15-year-old self, I’d reassure her that she was on the right path, tell her to believe in herself, and never be afraid to work hard to achieve her goals.” 

Be proud of your uniqueness!

Are you curious about what it is like to be a LGBT person at Volvo Group? Listen to Volvo Group employee Nathalie Fontaine’s eye opening Group Talk on openness, trust and respect. Group Talks is a learning tool provided by Volvo Group University to spread knowledge and inspiring stories shared by Volvo Group employees around the world, in a format inspired by the “TED Talk” experience. 

Volvo Group focuses on employees´unique abilities

Focusing on employees’ unique abilities

Hiring a minimum of five per cent of employees with disabilities is Volvo Group Brazil’s priority – good for both the company’s business and the community.

Rafaela de Camargo who works at Volvo Group’s site in Curitiba is one of many employees who communicate using sign language. There to help her is a specially assigned employee who is fluent in Brazilian sign language and one of those responsible for assisting employees with special needs.

One of the more successful hires is Jose Claro Melo, a blind operator who uses his advanced sense of touch to find imperfections in paint and bodywork.

“They told me they were having trouble finding defects and they asked me to try it out and I did. Blind people are often restricted in job opportunities but at the Volvo Group I have gained widespread respect. This work has made me an example for other blind people,” he says.

“Just like Jose sees things that other people can’t see, deaf people are often able to concentrate better because they don’t hear distractions. It’s always hard to generalize, but the work they do is exceptional,” concludes the training manager.

Reverse mentoring at Volvo Group

Growing with reverse mentorship

What can a young employee teach an experienced manager? Reverse mentoring is, as the name suggests, a mentorship that reverses roles.

Maria Bergving and Joel Laestadius are one of seven pairs taking part in Volvo Group’s reverse mentoring pilot project. Though Maria Bergving is a member of the executive management team at Volvo Trucks and has far more professional experience, Joel Laestadius is the mentor. 

The objective is to stimulate curiosity among leaders, encourage development and bridge generation gaps. The older person learns about digitalization, new ways to work and other things that interest the younger generation. The younger mentor has the opportunity to develop his network and share the senior person’s experience. 

Joel Laestadius, who is involved in purchasing logistics services for the Volvo Group, is convinced that the two can learn a great deal from each other.

“Sharing knowledge does not have to take place from the top and down in an organization, it can also move in the other direction,” he says.

Guillaume Renart at Volvo Group is part of the LGBTQ network

Courage to be yourself thanks to Volvo Group's LGBTQ network

Guillaume Renart was born in France and after he had finished his degree in the USA he began working for the Volvo Group in 2003. “I was looking for a global company and the Volvo Group had a lot of interesting things to offer,” he explains.

Guillaume first heard about V-Eagle, the Volvo Group’s network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ), in 2006. At that time he had not come out yet. “It was difficult to be open at work about the fact that I was gay. The network gave me courage and showed me that I wasn’t alone,” he says.

Now Guillaume is an active member of the V-Eagle network. “At the moment we have just over one hundred members worldwide, but in an organisation with more than 100,000 employees there are definitely between 4000 and 8000 LGBTQ people,” he explains.

Volvo Group’s Code of Conduct states that the company practices diversity and inclusion and opposes discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, among other things. The V-Eagle network has also developed a guide for Volvo Group managers on LGBTQ topics intended to make it more neutral for managers to discuss these topics with their employees.