Diversity and inclusion for better balance and greater relevance
There's a whole lot happening at our Sigma offices and naturally, we want to let you in on it. Partly for the sake of our colleagues in all our other offices spread all over the world, partly for you who might be wondering what’s going on at Sigma and what sort of a company it is.
This time we are on our way to Lund. We’re going to meet some of the group at Sigma Connectivity who are working actively on diversity and inclusion. It's an important project, perhaps their most important internal project right now. Their goal is not only to carry on doing what they do and to develop as an attractive employer; as an innovation company, diversity is also essential in ensuring the quality of the solutions and products they develop for and with their customers.
Sigma Connectivity’s customers are to be found all over the world and the products they manufacture are designed to meet all kinds of needs. But above all, those who use these products are nowhere near being a homogeneous target group. They are everywhere and have very different backgrounds, and therefore those who work on these solutions and products need to contribute with equally different perspectives.
As usual, we receive a warm welcome as we visit Sigma Connectivity to spend some time with Emelie Leht, Sebastian Ortega and Elin Jönsson, to hear more about how they are working on diversity. 17 people in a focus group drive the effort, and there is a good balance and mix in the group. There are several representatives from the management, which gives a good indication that they are serious about becoming a company and an employer who sees diversity as an asset.
The focus group brought in external expertise to develop the tools they need for this work, which resulted in a workshop called “Diversity & Inclusion”. A customised toolbox tailored to their business and organization that ensures that they can do the best possible job. To date, everyone in a management position at Sigma Connectivity and 70 employees have attended the workshop.
For three hours, they work intensively on getting to know and understand the concept. How does lack of diversity affect an organization? And what are its benefits, besides the obvious ones? But above all, it is about identifying and finding the way forward for a more inclusive workplace where everyone has space to work and develop, regardless of who they are.
You see, it's not just age, gender, background, and religion that they talk about in the workshop. They also discuss the role of personality. There are quite a few ways of being different that have nothing to do with where you were born but they are just as important when talking about inclusion. And it’s important to remember this when you are getting to know and understand the personalities of your colleagues. Empathy leads to better understanding and the insight that different personalities can be an asset in our daily work and make a difference for the solutions that we come up with.
The workshop also focuses on our behaviour at meetings, both internal and external. How do you act before, during and after a meeting? Are meetings inclusive, making the most of everyone's skills and do you have respect for each other and your colleagues' time? This is a very exciting part of the workshop that initiates many new thoughts among the participants.
“When we chat with the team after these three hours, several of them claim to have had aha experiences and new insights about the significance of all this for us as an innovative company,” says Emelie Leht, who is a sensor engineer at Sigma Connectivity.
By having a conscious strategy for diversity and inclusion, you get several other benefits in return. The diversity of skills, perspectives and approaches increases automatically, which contributes to a fantastic dynamic in the group. And it also gives the business a competitive advantage; the products they deliver to their customers are of a higher standard and are definitely more relevant and better tailored to the needs of customers.
“Almost 25% of our employees were born and raised in a country other than Sweden, and we regard this as greatly enriching and a big asset to the company.”
“Having a reputation for being an employer that takes diversity and inclusion seriously has great significance when it comes to recruiting new experts, but it is just as important for our deliveries to our customers,” says Elin Jönsson, communications manager at Sigma Connectivity.
In general, all Sigma companies have a corporate culture where they look after each other, ensure that the environment promotes cooperation and that everyone feels free to have a say. It is a good platform for further diversity and inclusion work. In other words, this is not a work of change that Sigma Connectivity has launched, but a work of improvement and development.
“Everyone in our teams can have their say, regardless of whether they are new or an experienced senior engineer,” says Sebastian Ortega, who works as an optoelectronics engineer.
“And it is much easier to feel included in a flat organisation. In an organisation with short paths to decision making, you see the effects and your own contribution faster, and you really feel that you are a valuable and appreciated part of the team,” Sebastian continues.
Sebastian brings his experiences and perspectives from his upbringing and education in Mexico and contributes to the international feeling at the office as he represents one of the 40 nationalities that exist at Sigma Connectivity in Lund.
“Almost 25% of our employees were born and raised in a country other than Sweden, and we regard this as greatly enriching and a big asset to the company,” says Emelie Leht about the large number of countries represented.
“…if we are to be able to offer even better and more relevant solutions and products for users all over the world in the future, we must ensure that we become even better at seeing everyone's perspectives.”
All the work that is done for diversity is linked to the employee survey Puls and the next thing on the agenda for the focus group is to set a number of measurable goals. The outcome will show how the work is progressing and to what extent the employees recognise and appreciate it.
In Puls, diversity and inclusion are ranked on a scale of 1–10, and Sigma Connectivity is high on both. On diversity, they reach 7.6 and on inclusion, they are at 8.0. The future figures will be among the measurable goals that the group are about to develop. The least complicated goal is for the percentage of employees who have attended the workshop to go from 24% to 100.
“We are engineers and problem-solvers and we like to set goals that we then work to achieve, which bodes well for the success of this work,” says Emelie and smiles.
The innovative Sigma company in Lund has realised the benefits and advantages of having an inclusive corporate culture and that it makes a difference in their delivery to customers and their global users. And when talking to the representatives of the focus group one thing is clear; they aim to be the best in the world at diversity.
“We are working on several aspects to make improvements for our employees and to create the absolute best conditions for them to be able to be innovative at the very highest level. And if we are to be able to offer even better and more relevant solutions and products for users all over the world in the future, we must ensure that we become even better at seeing everyone's perspectives,” concludes Elin when summing up their diversity and inclusion work.