50 years women’s suffrage: what’s the situation at Swiss Post?
The vote in favour of women’s suffrage on 7 February 1971 was a milestone moment for gender equality in Switzerland. What’s the situation now with regard to equality and diversity at Swiss Post? Valérie Schelker, Head of Human Resources, answers questions from Aline Galliker, a representative of Swiss Post’s internal network Young Voice.
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Valérie Schelker: how do you feel when you hear that women’s suffrage was introduced 50 years ago in Switzerland?
In my view, it doesn’t matter whether it’s now or 50 years ago. The key issue is what we do over the next 50 years to ensure equal opportunities for everyone, not just in terms of gender and gender equality, but more generally in relation to aspects such as language, background, lifestyle and ideological views. We need to reflect on how we’re going to shape this path into the future together. But right now we want to celebrate the milestone of women’s suffrage with a stamp!
What has Swiss Post done to promote equal opportunities over the years?
Awareness of equal opportunities came to the fore during the 1990s, which is also when the first programmes emerged. At Swiss Post, we attach tremendous importance to work-life balance. We offer flexible working time models, part-time positions but also job and top sharing opportunities. In the co-management model, two people share a leadership position. We also recently extended paternity and parental leave. And we’re strongly committed to equal pay for men and women.
Swiss Post developed an awareness early on that promoting diversity benefits the company. Mixed teams are more successful, and the greater the diversity of our workforce, the more representative it is of the population. This also gives us a better understanding of our customers’ requirements.
Swiss Post has been pursuing a new strategy since January. As part of this process, new appointments were made to a large number of leadership positions. How does Swiss Post take account of equality and diversity when making appointments to leadership roles?
It’s important to us that the recruitment process is fair and transparent. When recruiting, we aim to ensure a good mix in terms of gender, languages and background. We actively promote gender and language diversity at senior management levels. The total proportion of women in management has stood at 22 percent for a number of years. After the latest appointments, we’ve reached 30 percent in senior management. We wish to promote Latin languages to an even greater extent. But candidates must also possess the competencies required to enable us to implement Swiss Post’s strategy successfully.
They are not exemplary figures. What are you doing to increase the percentage of women in management and to achieve greater diversity?
We’ve realized that we need to fill our talent pipeline much earlier. We have to identify young talent who wish to develop and assume management roles over the medium term. But it’s also the job of managers to identify and promote employees with potential and to ensure an even broader mix in their teams in general.
Swiss Post’s new strategy also requires us to evolve our culture. What role does culture play in relation to diversity?
We’re endeavouring to ensure a good mix in our culture too. This includes values such as courage, pragmatism and openness, as well as a wide-ranging set of competencies, such as entrepreneurship, efficiency and customer centricity. We’re seeking to attract employees whose mindset is compatible with the role, in order to evolve our culture in the right direction. But we obviously also aim to retain our reliability. Inclusion and protection against discrimination are also key issues for us. Everyone should feel comfortable at Swiss Post, regardless of the gender they identify as, their sexual orientation, beliefs or other characteristics. We provide various internal platforms to encourage networking and dialogue.
Is Swiss Post setting an example in Switzerland in terms of equal opportunity and diversity? And where is there still room for improvement?
As an enterprise affiliated with the Confederation with a public service mandate, Swiss Post must endeavour to ensure that its workforce is just as diverse as its customer base. People from 140 different countries work at Swiss Post in over a hundred different professions. Of course we can improve further. For example, we could step it up a notch in terms of the proportion of female employees pursuing careers in IT or logistics.
What career advice would you, with all your experience, give to a young woman like me?
Be open-minded, curious and bold enough to take big steps when opportunities arise. And seek out your own opportunities too. Look for support from the people around you. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have received fantastic support. And try things out, even if you think you can’t do them at first.
Interview: Aline Galliker, Young Voice