Swiss transnational food and drink company, Nestlé has launched a Gender Balance Acceleration Plan known as ‘From Aspiration to Action’ as part of its efforts to highlight International Women’s Day in 2019.
Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, believes that a gender balanced workforce makes business sense as it helps to boost innovation and performance, which as a result, better serves the needs of its consumers.
Nestlé’s Global CEO, Mark Schneider announced the company’s acceleration plan to make gender balance a priority, based on three pillars: bold leadership, an empowering culture and a set of enabling practices.
In the Central and West Africa Region (CWAR), Nestlé aims to bring the Gender Balance Acceleration Plan to life through its multi-pronged initiatives, such as trainings to raise awareness on gender biases, career development and mentoring programmes for women, gender-sensitive succession planning, offering breastfeeding rooms and nurseries at work, as well as the implementation of its Maternity Protection Policy.
At Nestlé CWAR, increasing the number of women in the workforce and boosting gender balance is helping to drive innovation.
Bunmi Etty-Mfon, Total Performance Management Manager for Technical at Nestlé CWAR, who has led factory efficiency for over eight years to deliver safe, quality products in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire, has encouraged and experienced this herself.
“When there’s a good mixture of men and women, team-building activities tend to be more balanced, helping to develop greater empathy among individuals and teams. Diversity stimulates greater effort from everyone, leading to improved decision-making. Also, as the majority of consumers in our region are women, it gives us great perspective to lead in innovation,” she said.
Rahamatou Palm, Category Manager for our Nescafé business in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Togo and Benin – and a member of the Cluster Management Committee of which half are women – agrees that diversity is key for the company’s growth.
“Gender balance is important to complement the thinking between men and women, leading to more productive debates and innovative decisions. It also fights against discrimination to ensure a better, and more dynamic workplace,” she added.
Nestlé CWAR is also actively enhancing the company’s performance by increasing the number of women in departments that traditionally hire men.
To close the current gender gap, the Technical and Supply Chain Management departments are looking to recruit a majority of women as graduate trainees, and include at least one female candidate in the final interview stage. Efforts are also being made to increase the number of women working in factories across the region.
Ibukun Ipinmoye, Factory Manager of the Flowergate Factory, which includes the first 100% female production line in Nestlé Nigeria, has noted an increase in productivity.
“We soon realised that the female production lines are very productive thanks to their highly committed and collaborative spirit and their careful handling of the equipment. Gender diversity has helped to boost productivity,” he said.
“As a result, we plan to introduce female operators to more complex lines to utilise their multitasking skills, and aim to hire female management trainees to 80%.”
Julia Atta, Production Manager for Milks in Nestlé Ghana, was appointed as the first female production manager for Nestlé CWAR last year – marking a milestone for the company in the region.
She explained that she went into this ‘non-traditional’ line of work for women to change mind-sets and make an impact. But this came with its challenges.
Today, Julia heads the milk production and technical team, leading the production, quality, safety, cost and delivery of 130 tonnes of evaporated milk a day, while also developing her team of junior and senior employees.
“We recognise that gender balance, women’s rights, education for women and women’s empowerment are critical to Creating Shared Value – our approach to how we do business in creating value for both our shareholders and for society,” said Rémy Ejel, Market Head for Nestlé CWA Ltd.
“It is also key to contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and we encourage other companies to also make gender balance a priority,” Mr Ejel concluded.