FOCUS | Infl uential industry women

Brand leaders Q & A

Silke Maurer, chief operating officer, BSH

Q: As a hugely infl uential brand, what role do you think BSH has to play in championing gender equality in the KBB industry? A: Of course, as one of the industry leaders, we have a responsibility to champion gender

equality and

diversity and it’s a responsibility we take seriously. BSH leads the way by action and actively continues working on implementing this internally. Since 2011 we have increased the

proportion of women in management positions across the company and a quarter of those roles are now fi lled by women. While this is good progress, we can always do more and are in the process of setting ambitious goals for our equality and diversity policy in the future. Yet, simple target setting is not enough – especially regarding gender equality. We need to encourage female talents from the beginning of their careers – or even at school. We need to work on the framework and to promote the benefi ts of diverse teams.

Q: Can you tell us about BSH’s own diversity policies and your involvement with any initiatives? A: At BSH we know that diversity and the energy and potential that naturally comes with it is one of the key drivers for a successful business – from recruiting the brightest minds to inventing the products of the future. I’m an active supporter of BSH’s diversity policies and contribute to the range of diversity

initiatives held throughout BSH. Since 2018 we have been running annual Diversity Days. The idea is to have at least one day where as many aspects of diversity can be addressed. A variety of activities, workshops, speeches, and roundtables take place. The motivation to start this initiative was to raise awareness of diversity in order to foster an open mindset. Everyone who takes part gains a better understanding what diversity means and how every single person can contribute to an open and respectful environment – and why this is so important.

Q: How would the KBB industry benefi t from having more women in top roles? A: I think every industry can benefi t from not just more women, but more diversity across management positions. Diverse organisations make better companies by allowing for more diverse solutions, supporting innovation, disrupting and fostering a wider and open perspective on business and beyond. The more talent, backgrounds and skillsets you can bring together, the better chances you have of understanding your consumers.

Q: What do you think is the future of the kitchen industry when it comes to diversity? A: I think we’re likely to see a continuing growth in diversity at a more

accelerated rate given the

challenges we’ve faced across the world in the past year. Speed, agility and innovativeness but also empathy

Diverse organisations make better companies by allowing for more diverse solutions, supporting innovation, disrupting and fostering a wider and open perspective

and collaboration are more important than ever – all characteristics supported by a diverse work force. At BSH, we know that quality of increase

life when smart home

appliances adapt to personal requirements and make people’s lives easier. Therefore, we focus on offering personalisation for our consumers that refl ect our society. The insights of our diverse workforce help us anticipate and meet


variety of consumers’ wishes. From a more personal perspective, I believe that the diversity future

of all industries in the depends heavily on the individual’s

environment and infrastructure. As a working mother, I have not only faced ‘administrative’ challenges such as childcare, but also comments from colleagues and other mothers that increased the persistent guilty conscience. Companies need to support their employees by shaping family-friendly working conditions and a corporate culture that respects different lifestyles. I hope that these, and

many more, changes will

continue in the future and enable an inclusive workforce across all industries.

Margaret Talbot, regional marketing manager – Europe, VitrA I

t is well documented and evidenced that we live in a world where there is a male gender bias. Men are seen as the human default, and this infl uences everything from seat belt design through to the provision and design of public toilets. If we can address this bias in our industry and start to create products that refl ect the needs of the other 50% of the population we will be making a signifi cant positive contribution to making the world a better place to live in for everyone.

In the same way that men do, women bring different and valuable perspectives, new ideas and new approaches. Given women are often the key infl uencer in the choice of any KBB renovation it makes sense to have representation at all levels in the business.

I would say that women are under-represented in certain areas of the KBB industry – particularly at board level – but that’s not isolated to our industry. There are a number of reasons for that. There are plenty of intelligent, capable, and driven women who can head up companies within the industry. However,


a lack of opportunities and career interruption due to child rearing or taking care of ageing parents are problems that women face in terms of progression. From a personal perspective, I’ve worked in other male-dominated industries but, as with my experiences of the bathroom industry, this was never a barrier to joining that industry or career progression – in fact, I viewed it more as an opportunity or challenge. What’s always been more important to me is the values within the company I choose to work for and its focus on the customer.

VitrA recognises, nurtures and rewards the contribution of individuals irrespective of gender and I believe that is what the KBB industry as a whole should be striving for. Rather than it simply being about my gender, what I believe I bring to my role at VitrA is the knowledge and experience you get from a 30-year career working across different industries with a diverse range of people.

Joining VitrA has enabled me to play to my strengths and with the help of my extraordinary marketing team and members of the management team we have helped sustain positive sales growth.

· March 2021

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