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Volvo Group Diversity & Inclusion Stories

Explore these real life diversity in the workplace examples to find out how Volvo Group is working with diversity and inclusion. 

#EmbraceDifference 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

#BreakTheBias for a more inclusive workplace

With an ambitious target of 35% female employees both in leadership positions and in general by 2030, Volvo Group is committed to challenging the status quo on gender equality. Nurturing a work environment and culture that is inclusive, equitable and diverse is key to success.  

International Women's Day provides an occasion to reflect on the importance of inclusiveness and is a call to action for accelerating gender equality. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 by the World Economic Forum, with the current speed of change it will take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide. Everyone has a role to play in forging a more gender-balanced world. 

“Under the current situation in the world, treating each other with kindness and compassion, exercising the true essence of diversity and inclusion is more important than ever. In Volvo Group, we are committed to establishing the essential base for inclusion, which is a much healthier gender balance. To achieve that, we are breaking down our diversity and inclusion targets into roadmaps with concrete milestones and defined actions that will take us there. We are ensuring that all our people & culture practices – such as recruitment, reward, recognition, learning and growth - reflect our ambitions and support our commitment. By making ourselves aware of bias, addressing stereotypes and challenging inequality in a constructive way, we can all contribute to a more balanced and inclusive work environment”, says Diana Niu, Head of Group People & Culture. 

#BreakTheBias 

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Research shows that women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership positions.

Bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions. For every 100 men promoted at the first step up to manager, only 86 women are promoted. As a result, there are far fewer women to promote to higher leadership levels and women are more than twice as likely to say that they are “onlys”, i.e. the only woman in the room. *Source: Women in the Workplace 2021

Acknowledging that bias exists is far from enough – organizations and individuals must act to #BreakTheBias and create a culture that leverages all the advantages of diversity. We can all contribute to a more inclusive workplace, where all employees feel comfortable in bringing their unique perspectives to the table. Let’s challenge gender bias and inequality together! 

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.” 

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.

Feeling safe as a member of the LGBTQ+ community

Carrie Lively works as a Digitalization & IT Manager for Volvo Group Trucks in Hagerstown, North America. She loves her job and is equally passionate about diversity & inclusion. We asked her why: “Because one, I am a female and two, I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Many people don’t feel comfortable being their authentic selves because they may fear retribution at work.

They may feel like they don’t have the same opportunities to grow and develop in their careers because of their sexual orientation, and that makes me very sad. I can’t imagine working for an organization where I couldn’t come in and share about my personal life for fear of people judging me or looking down upon me.

Many people, especially young people, end up considering suicide because they think that’s an easier way out than coming out and that makes me very, very sad. But love is love; to me it should not matter what your sexual orientation or gender identity is, you’re still a human being, you’re still a person, you still have value to your organization and to society.

It’s time for the stereotypes to come down, it’s time for the hate to stop, and it’s time to recognize that it doesn’t matter who you love. You’re loving someone, and that’s the most important thing.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and working for Volvo Group, I feel physically safe, I feel emotionally safe. I’m co-chair for the V-Eagle North America network for Volvo Group. I always wanted to work for a company that is accepting of different pieces of diversity, that promotes inclusion, that has a family atmosphere, and I really feel like that is a large part of what we do here in Hagerstown.

Everyone wants to feel included, and they want to feel cared about. I think Volvo truly does care about individuals.”

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. 

Creating transparency about sexual orientation

Laurent Chauvin, vice president of Governance, has been with the company for 20 years. He feels that Volvo Group is a respectful and safe environment in which people can feel at ease about being themselves at work, including being open about their sexuality. In the company’s Code of Conduct it is clearly outlined that discrimination based on “who you are”, including your sexual orientation, is unacceptable.

“Feeling supported is key,” says Laurent and mentions V-EAGLE, Volvo Group’s global LGBTQ+ network established 15 years ago as a first in the industrial technology sector. The network provides support for employees and has developed a guide for managers with the intention of facilitating dialogue and improving understanding and workplace inclusion.

People’s private lives intersect with their professional ones on a daily basis. Being secretive about who you are creates distance between colleagues and can even affect productivity.

“When we start our week at the coffee machine with our colleagues, we all discuss our weekends and mention our families. After I came out to my team, they were relieved because not only did they feel that they knew me better, but they also felt they could now discuss their personal issues with me,” says Laurent. “In turn, both team spirit and efficiency were improved starting with me being open. Being transparent is empowering for everyone.”

Focusing on employees’ unique abilities

Hiring a minimum of five per cent of employees with special abilities 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.

Managing diverse abilities at work – advice for managers and colleagues.

Volvo Group employee Vincent Deltour, assistant buyer, does not want his disability to be treated like a taboo. He wants to talk about the fact that his vision is severely impaired. Why? So that people understand. As he puts it himself, it’s something he has lived with for a long time: his reality. For him to be able to live his life as he wants to, he needs people to confront it in the same way that he does: honestly, frankly, and without fear. Treating diverse abilities as a taboo can, very specifically, hold back progress. “The people on my team have taken the time to explain things – like the layout of the office. They offer a great deal of professional help and explanation. I take the help, and as a result I haven’t had a problem integrating into this office.” When a colleague with diverse abilities starts in a workplace, it can be difficult to work out everything that has to be considered. Often, the onus is placed on either the manager or the company to make sure that everything is in place. And from an administrative point of view, that might be correct. But Vincent believes that the emphasis is also on him. Read the full story HERE for more advice from Vincent on what managers and teams should know to welcome a colleague with unique abilities.

The business value of employing people with unique abilities. 

For over 2 decades Volvo Group factory in Curitiba, Brazil, has been employing many employees with unique abilities including hearing impairment. Watch the Operations Director who explains the business benefits of diverse skills and how every job across all jobs is open to everyone. Leaders and HR partners are trained in sign language so they can communicate around performance and together and career development. Of course these colleagues can become leaders themselves and teach others back. Watch the video.