Celebrating International Women’s Day at Bata

08 March 2022
Celebrating International Women’s Day at Bata

Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of our strength as a global company.

Gender equality, and in particular, women’s rights and empowerment are crucial. Therefore, gender balance remains a key component of our approach to ensure diversity and inclusion.

Demonstrating our commitment

As we continuously want to challenge ourselves to do more and foster an even more diverse and inclusive culture, we have introduced the Women@Bata program.

Women@Bata has the critical mission of empowering women to succeed in their careers at Bata. Our purpose is to provide women with the opportunities, skills and knowledge to thrive in our company and beyond. Our efforts include a range of initiatives that tackle equal representation and promote career development. We are setting KPIs to achieve gender balance at different company levels and defining targeted goals to achieve by 2025.

At Bata, we aim to increasethe proportion of women in top management positions
from around 30% in 2021 to 40% by 2025

Another initiative is to help women in our regional talent pool with career planning.

We also launched local and regional initiatives, such as mentoring programs and workshops on different topics (for e.g., wellbeing and domestic violence), sessions on women’s health awareness and the development of partnerships with health institutions for prevention screenings (for e.g., breast and cervical cancer).

Recognizing our leaders

On International Women's Day, we are taking the opportunity to find out more about our colleagues’ experiences. They provide invaluable insights into what they have learned about what commitments we have taken as a company for women. For example, at least one woman will always be among interviewed candidates and shortlisted in our selection process. We will also develop real, specific and lasting changes for equality, and constantly track and complete what work still needs to be done.

 

IWD-Isabelle-Sakai-article.jpegWhy is diversity and inclusion so important for you?

I genuinely believe that a diverse and inclusive organization is a better organization. It is now well established that diversity boosts innovation and financial results. I also personally enjoy working in such a multi-cultural company as Bata. Different backgrounds, stories, and experiences make richer interactions and better ideas.

As a woman, and a leader, what has been the biggest challenge or barrier you have faced in your career?

The toughest time for me as a working woman was when I went back to work shortly after the birth of my second child. I was a Director at Procter & Gamble at that time, which meant I worked a lot. My kids were young, and I frequently had to wake up during the night, so I was exhausted. My kids were in day care, but the expected pick-up time was very strict, and this daily deadline put a lot of pressure on me. What’s more, I could not count on other family members to help as we lived abroad. My husband also worked long hours, so I felt quite alone at the time.

A very good friend helped me realize that I needed to get more support before I collapsed, and more importantly, to make sure I had the time to enjoy my family life.

Shortly after this conversation, my husband and I decided to review the childcare system we had. This extra help gave me the time I needed with my family, and also time to continue progressing in my career.

So, I learned that support systems were paramount in having a successful career and being able to enjoy quality time with the family and some "me time".

We often focus on women, but how do you see men playing their role?

I like to say that I would not have the career that I have without the constant support of my husband. It starts with him believing in me and understanding that my career is important to my happiness and wellbeing. He is a great sounding board and an unofficial mentor. My husband contributes a lot to our family life. He is always there for our kids and also helps with the household chores. We both work hard, and we both deserve some time to rest and relax - which means everyone must pitch in. During different times in our past, we each compromised on our individual wants to make our dual careers work for both of us. So yes – men must play a role and a fundamental one at that!

“I commit to look beyond the stereotypes and help create a world where women and men are equally celebrated.” - Isabelle

 

IWD-Stojanka-Salatovic-article.jpegWhy is diversity and inclusion so important for you?

I truly believe that if an employee trusts that she or he, and her/his colleagues will be treated equally, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or age, they will feel proud to work for Bata and will be more motivated and engaged.

What can we do at Bata to accelerate diversity and inclusion?

Define clear KPIs that encourage diversity and initiatives which ensure involvement, development, empowerment and trust. As Regional Lead, one of the main barriers I see is unconscious misconceptions that often create bias decisions. Encouraging workshops around these biases and helping people become aware of their own biases is one of the key ways to accelerate diversity and inclusion within Bata.

What challenges and opportunities do you see ahead in the company regarding diversity and inclusion, and more specifically, women’s equity?

Focusing on the opportunities and considering the complexities of the post-COVID pandemic, leveraging our diversity of thoughts, and tapping into our collective intelligence will all be key to remain competitive and continue driving forward.

What does it mean to be a woman in a leadership/manager role at Bata?

Since I joined the company in 2015, I have been given a growing list of responsibilities and opportunities based on my engagement and performance - not on my age or gender. I am grateful for this and I’m now in a position to support and encourage access to growth opportunities for other employees within the company.

What is your message to Bata employees and readers?

I wish all women working for Bata worldwide a happy International Women’s Day and I sincerely hope every one of you enjoys it! I look forward to seeing you succeed, grow and inspire others throughout 2022 and onward. You all rock!

“I will ensure gender inclusivity in my hiring and promotion processes within the region.” - Stojanka

 

IWD-Jeddidah-Thotho-article.jpegWhy is diversity and inclusion so important to you?

Diversity and inclusion are important to me because it takes advantage of the diverse range of skill sets from individuals with different demographics, social graphics, and diverse experiences. It also means you bring out the very best in your employees and allows them to reach their full potential. Workplace diversity and inclusiveness has many benefits to an office including:

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased creativity
  • Improved cultural awareness
  • Corporate reputation

What challenges and opportunities do you see ahead for the company regarding diversity and inclusion, and more specifically, women’s equity?

Challenges

  • The leaky pipeline. Women are underrepresented in key leadership roles across the globe, and more so in underdeveloped countries. Across all industries and sectors, the more you climb the corporate ladder, the fewer women you see.
  • The gender pay gap. In a developed country like the US, as of 2021, recent figures place an average woman's earnings at around 80% of the average man, though this varies significantly between occupations (source: Wikipedia). The figures deteriorate significantly in the underdeveloped countries to less than 50%. The challenge is to normalize the pay gap within the organization across genders, assuming the skill sets/experiences are commensurate across genders.
  • Occupational segregation. Occupational segregation is the distribution of workers across and within occupations, based upon demographic characteristics, most often gender. Based on historical stereotypes, you’ll find that in certain sectors, men represent a significant percentage of the employee population. Examples within our organization include manufacturing setups, engineering, senior leadership and management roles.

 Opportunities

  • Leadership participation. Increasing the penetration of women in top management positions.
  • Economic empowerment. Closing the gender pay gap will result in economic empowerment and strengthen participation in decision making.
  • Good Corporate Governance. Good governance in organizations has shown correlation between a diverse board and improvements in financial performance and company governance. This is because diverse boards and directors bring a valuable range of outlooks, opinions and suggestions regarding decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Youth inclusiveness. The penetration of the youth population in developing nations is growing. They need employment opportunities. From a business perspective, we need them to bring to the board new thinking with regards to marketing and engaging youth.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

  1. Study more. Studies provide you with the technical skill sets to be competitive in the marketplace.
  2. Try out many things/experiences. This lays the foundation to the future by expanding your world view and ways of thinking, while opening up networking opportunities.
  3. Work hard and be consistent. There is no shortcut in life. One must work hard to reap the benefits of their labor.
  4. Trust yourself. Low self-esteem and insecurity are common in many youngsters due to the many changes occurring biologically, socially and physically, like moving away from the comfort of their home/parents. Trust yourself. There is a source of wisdom inside every one of us that knows and understands things, regardless of age.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. Our actions start from our mind, and we need positive conversations and people in order to be uplifted and not dragged down in a world that is complex and has numerous challenges.
  6. Find mentors. I really wish I had access to a mentor in my younger days. Instead of a family support system that may be caught up in limiting beliefs, family patterns and cultural nuances, seek a mentor early on to guide you during your educational years and early career.
  7. Dare to think big! Shoot for the stars, aim for the moon. Don’t let the limited beliefs of your surroundings make you think of yourself as small. Remember you define your destiny, not society.
  8. Invest at a young age. You do not need significant income to start investing early. The compounding effect of money is real - especially when I reflect on the cost of basic items when I was younger vs now. How I wish I could rewind the clock!

Do you have any career advice for a young woman starting in her career?

If you are already in a specific role, be the best at it. Work hard and acquire the necessary skill sets, exposures, experiences, certifications, or specialized education necessary to stand out in your field.

Consistently put yourself into situations that go beyond your job description and/or be a volunteer for special projects within the organization. At the end of the day, you must be viewed as an asset to the organization, rather than a liability, and your value must go beyond what is expected of you on a day-to-day basis. Seek out mentors in and outside of the organization. Your direct boss can be a big catalyst to your career growth. Therefore, you must constantly make sure you are engaged, especially at the time of performance reviews so you will better understand your strengths, weaknesses and more importantly, opportunities for growth and improvement.

What is your message for Bata employees and readers?

A better corporate image emerges when leadership is gender balanced and inclusive. Female leadership style also contributes to the benefits of diversity. Women are better able to deal with difficult personal relationships, pay closer attention to people’s needs, are inclined towards preventing and solving conflicts, more readily share views with other people and make effort to reach agreements, plus they monitor and give feedback more intensively.

Play your role in creating diversity and inclusiveness within your sphere of influence, one person at a time.

“I will be a champion for gender equality and inclusiveness in and outside the organization. I will stand for zero tolerance of gender-based violence, sexist attitudes and behaviour. I will create change!” - Jeddidah

 

IWD-Abhya-article.jpegWhy is diversity and inclusion so important to you?

Diversity and inclusion are two interconnected concepts, which I feel are important because they are more likely to create a workforce with a wider variety of backgrounds and experiences. Inclusion creates a workplace where employees feel equally involved in, and supported in all areas, resulting in improved readiness to innovate, employee retention and business KPIs.

Tell us how you started and about your career path?

I started off as a management trainee with one of the biggest retailers in India 11 years ago. I led merchandising for an ecommerce company for a couple of years and then joined Bata India in 2014 in the merchandising department. This led to a management role which allowed me to grow professionally, giving me the opportunity to take on a leadership role in Bata Bangladesh as Chief Merchandising Manager in 2019. Bata Bangladesh has multiple channel operations, for example, DOS, B2B, Franchise and Ecommerce and two factories. Exposure to these multiple channels has given me the opportunity to further explore and understand end-to-end business operations.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?  

Dream big, be kind to yourself and travel as much as possible.

Do you have any career advice for a young woman starting in her career?

To identify your potential, you must know yourself. Believe in yourself so you’ll have enough confidence to be heard and have the courage to speak for yourself. Lastly, find a mentor.

We often focus on women, but how do you see men playing their role?

Behind every successful woman, there’s a man who provided the necessary catalyst in her life to make it her own. The one who encouraged her to try new things, broaden her horizon, travel alone and quit the mom guilt. When things didn’t go as planned, he encouraged her to try again. Men play a critical role in sharing the load and breaking the bias.

How do you achieve balance between your career and having kids and a family?

Having a career, kids and family is always a shared responsibility. So, this is a question which not only applies to women but also to men. Having said that, it is always important to have your professional and personal priorities clear to achieve your goals.

On a personal front, having a strong support system (husband, in-laws, parents, extended family) has helped me balance raising a toddler while simultaneously climbing the corporate ladder.

What is your message for Bata employees and readers?

Quoting Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy:

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard”.

I think it’s time for all to believe in this idea and make it work.

“I will challenge the labels that are usually put on women on different fronts and help empower them daily so they can play their part in shaping the future of our world” - Abhya