Philips Lighting: Diversity and Inclusion – More diversity more power
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a priority at Philips.
A diverse workforce structure contributes to growth: it ensures satisfied and valued workers and stimulates creativity and innovative strength. A good example of Diversity and Inclusion in practice is the project conducted by Ruud Gal, Senior Director of Innovation Strategy at Philips Light Labs. He is also a member of the Philips Diversity and Inclusion Council, which started in 2010 in the Benelux.
Ruud: “Diversity and leadership are often linked to the relationship between men and women in a company, but they are actually about creating a ‘people-friendly’ culture in which everyone can apply their own strengths. In a people-friendly working environment everyone feels heard and appreciated, we are better able to identify customer needs, be more responsive to the market, make better decisions and ultimately become more successful”.
“Light Labs is undergoing a major transformation. The change from light globes to Leds is changing our complete Organization. In the past we have been pretty closed and focused on our own processes, but we are now forced to open up more. We did not just need to deal with substantial technical changes, but our culture had to change as well. We also have a situation where we, as do many other divisions of Philips, have low percentage of women employees. To find out why so few women work for us, and to join in with the shaping process of our culture change, I attended a Conference on Female Leadership. At this conference I met Esther Mollema, General Manager of the training and coaching Institute: Direction. Together we started working on an active and result-oriented approach; training for Management and for all of our employees”.
Ruud continues: “This training highlighted that we all make decisions influenced by ‘Mindbugs‘, unconscious prejudices and stereotypes. A Mindbug could be: women can’t be good at leadership. We can’t do anything about these; our Mindbugs are remnants of the evolution that we as humans have gone through. Once these Mindbugs are uncovered, it becomes possible to use targeted exercises to do something about them so they no longer stand in your way”.
Esther adds: “Cleaning up Mindbugs is the first step. But one major secret of a successful organization is to create a working environment in which people can enter into discussions together in a good, honest, constructive way. This reflects an atmosphere of openness and equality”.
Ruud continues: “We discovered in follow-up sessions that for constructive dialogue, diversity awareness is important. The more diversity and inclusion there is within a group, the more strength it has”.
The outcomes of the approach by Ruud and Esther are clear. Ruud adds enthusiastically: “We achieved an important outcome without having set a specific target for this. Namely the influx of women employees into Light Labs grew from 12% in previous years to more than 30% in 2010. In addition, the atmosphere within our Department has improved tremendously. People are much more open and more positive towards each other. Because they feel heard, more productive discussions are taking place. That has even led to a change in one of the processes of innovation. Light Labs has a Jury who assess new ideas in the areas of products and processes. This only included Caucasian Dutch men, until someone pointed this out to us. Great! because by including people from other backgrounds in the Jury, you can also look at ideas from various other perspectives.
We are very pleased with the results at Light Labs; through the Diversity and Inclusion Council at Philips they will be shared with other divisions. This will allow others to also reap the benefits of our ‘all-inclusive’ work environment”.
Please contact Esther Mollema for more information!