We believe in balance: how we can use International Women’s Day to tackle gender inequality together

Posted On: 
8th March 2019

Today, like many other businesses around the country, IKEA will be celebrating International Women’s Day. 

"I am proud of IKEA’s achievements towards gender equality and urge other businesses this International Women’s Day to consider how we can all take collective responsibility and promote gender equality together" - Carin Hammer Blakebrough, Country People and Culture Manager, IKEA UK and Ireland
Credit: 
IKEA

We are proud to stand for gender equality, which we see as a basic human right. Not only is it the right thing to do, but we recognise that ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace makes good business sense.

We believe in balance and it is crucial therefore that our co-workers, leadership and product range reflect the diversity of our customers and the world around us.

Achieving a gender balance in all levels of leadership, functions and positions is a key part of this work, so that anyone, regardless of their gender can make a full and meaningful contribution. This helps our business to thrive by giving us a better understanding of our consumers and allowing us to offer more creative and relevant home furnishing solutions, products and services.

I am proud to say that in the UK, IKEA has achieved a 50/50 gender split and it is our aim to reach the same goal globally by 2020. But gender equality is not just about targets. Our people come first, which is why I passionately believe that through strong leadership, being values driven, setting clear goals and integrating gender equality through our employee life-cycle, we can ensure a smart and inclusive working environment for everyone.

Retail is notoriously difficult for working schedules, which can make it difficult for those women and others requiring flexibility, which is why we’ve built in ways to ensure our co-workers can work flexibly, such as having one weekend off in four.  We also offer enhanced parental leave and inclusive policies and benefits.

Combined with development opportunities and coaching and mentoring programmes we can ensure that women – particularly those from marginalised groups or who face additional challenges and barriers, such as black and minority ethnic women or those who are lesbian, gay, bi or trans – feel comfortable leaving or returning to work when they have a family and have the flexibility and confidence to take on more senior roles. These things help us achieve a truly equal business, going beyond the gender balance.

I feel privileged to work in a company that actively helps women, and men to progress their careers and have the time to invest in their families too.

For me, it’s important that we use days like International Women’s Day to share our stories, including our successes and where we’ve yet to break through, to create better opportunities for all. And while we’ve seen significant progress on gender equality, much more still needs to be done. These complex issues can’t be addressed by businesses and government working alone, so we must come together with a concerted collective effort to take action.

As a values-led global business, in 2016/17 the Ingka Group, of which IKEA Retail UK is a part, co-chaired and supported the first-ever UN High-level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The work of the Panel provides a template for collective action and its legacy continues to drive and shape our global approach, both here and across the world.

I am proud of IKEA’s achievements towards gender equality and urge other businesses this International Women’s Day to consider how we can all take collective responsibility and promote gender equality together. Today I will be celebrating International Women’s Day, along with all our brilliant co-workers and will continue to look for ways we can nurture an environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.