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Success through gender diversity

Sonova has debuted on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. In this interview, Claudio Bartesaghi, Sonova’s GVP Corporate HRM & Communications, talks about the advantages of a balanced ratio of men and women and the company’s specific gender goals.
Claudio Bartesaghi, GVP Corporate HRM & Communications

What does joining the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index mean for Sonova?

Claudio Bartesaghi: We are extremely pleased that our commitment to equality is bearing fruit and has been demonstrated to the outside world through our admission to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. Although we have made great strides as a company in many areas, this recognition is further encouragement for us at Sonova: we want to make ongoing improvements, particularly as far as gender diversity in senior management is concerned.

What specific goals is Sonova pursuing in respect of the equality of men and women? 

Claudio Bartesaghi: Over the medium term, we want to fill all open key positions worldwide with a balanced ratio of men and women. An issue just as important as representing women at every level of management is to promote an open corporate – and in particular leadership – culture in order to reap the benefits of our diverse workforce. Employees shouldn’t have to “fit in” to be successful at our company. We are committed to creating a positive and attractive work environment in which everyone feels they are appreciated, respected, and taken seriously.

And how does Sonova hope to achieve these goals?

Claudio Bartesaghi: Our goals in promoting diversity and inclusion should be viewed within the wider context of our talent management program; we are convinced that fostering talent with a view to encouraging internal succession to managerial positions will be critically important for our long-term success. Almost half of our positions involving staff responsibilities are already held by women – these are ideal conditions for increasing the number of women in key positions over the medium term, through professional succession planning and individual development plans. 

Nevertheless, to make this a reality we will have to review our existing HR processes and guidelines. Where are there currently stumbling blocks to achieving a healthy work-life balance? How can we ensure that our talented high-performers don’t jump ship but are able to focus on building a career at Sonova? What development measures are required to make sure these individuals are ready to advance to the next stage of their careers? Recognizing unconscious biases and expectations is another important point we are addressing; we run training courses for our HR team and managers to prevent stereotypical (and often unwitting) role expectations from affecting HR processes and hindering our efforts to increase staff diversity.

It is well known that networking is important for career advancement. How are you making sure that women at Sonova are networking effectively?

Claudio Bartesaghi: We support the expansion of networks and provide our female employees with platforms where they can compare notes and learn from one another. Various women’s networks of this kind, spearheaded by our employees, have already been set up in Canada, the US, and Switzerland.

Should men be worried that they won’t be able to get to the top at Sonova?

Claudio Bartesaghi: The principal factor in progressing up the career ladder is – and always has been – an employee’s performance and potential, irrespective of gender. This said, we are keen to have a full and frank conversation about how we define performance and potential, and what skills we will need to maintain our success as a company over the long term. In the end, this is about enabling our employees to realize their full potential in their own interest and in the interests of Sonova. An open approach not only leads to better individual performance and hence overall results, but it also makes us more attractive as an employer and has a positive impact on our company culture generally. Everyone benefits from this. 

Why is it actually so important for Sonova to anchor and enhance diversity and inclusion in its corporate culture?

Claudio Bartesaghi: Our employees bring different skills and characteristics to the table, depending on their age, gender, origins, and background. We are convinced that our success as a company largely depends on the extent to which we are able to realize the benefits of this diversity. A variety of perspectives is essential to best meet the many and various needs of our clients and to make a convincing case for the company over the long term with innovative products and services.


Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index

The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) recognizes companies that stand up for transparency in reporting and the advancement of equality for women.

Bloomberg’s standardized reporting framework provides companies with an opportunity to publish information about how they are promoting gender equality in four different categories: HR statistics, staff guidelines and programs, public engagement, and product ranges.

The GEI admits reporting companies that score above a globally established threshold, based on the information disclosed in their submissions and achievement of best-in-class statistics and guidelines. The cross-sector index includes 230 publicly listed companies from 36 countries.


Equileap Ranking

Sonova had already been recognized in Equileap’s Gender Equality Global Report & Ranking in 2018.

Equileap is a non-profit organization that has set itself the goal of advancing the equality of men and women in the workplace, and the global gender equality study it has been publishing in furtherance of this aim since 2017 has classified Sonova among the top 200 companies.

In awarding its rankings, the organization investigated more than 3,000 publicly listed companies in 23 industrialized nations, rating them in four categories to produce a scorecard: gender balance in the overall leadership, management and workforce of a company; equal compensation and work/life balance; policies promoting gender equality; and commitment to women’s empowerment, transparency and accountability.