Equal opportunities at HENSOLDT
People are the backbone of everything we do at HENSOLDT. We want to unlock the potential in each and every employee to bring out the best for both them and the company, but only when everybody is given the same opportunities and is on a level footing can this truly be a reality.
Just as our customer base is varied, it is vital that our workforce is as well. We recognise the importance of delivering to our customers technologies suited to all of their individual needs, and only by employing a diverse and varied workforce will we be able to deliver the innovative capabilities to meet these requirements.
To this end, HENSOLDT is taking its environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) responsibilities to another level, and 2021 marked the first year that we released our new annual Sustainability Report.
This outlined our progress across a number of key parameters, as well as pledges to progress in areas that need improvement. This includes – among others – our responsibilities to diversity, irrespective of gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or culture.
In 2021, HENSOLDT has also joined the UN Global Compact, a global sustainability initiative. By joining, HENSOLDT commits itself to act according to their guidelines and to counteract discrimination of any kind and promote equal opportunities for everyone. In this frame we also participate at the accelerator programme “Target Gender Equality” of the United Nations. Through facilitated performance analysis, capacity building workshops, peer-to-peer learning and multi-stakeholder dialogue, “Target Gender Equality” will help HENSOLDT in setting and reaching the ambitious corporate targets for women’s representation and leadership.
While this commitment is endemic across the company and management is fully behind making real changes that can be sustained, we know that a culture shift is needed, and a steady but progressive plan is therefore in place to deliver on our ambitious diversity targets.
As of 2020, women accounted for approximately 22 percent of all employees at HENSOLDT, 15 percent of the global management team, and 22 percent of the executive committee. We are acutely aware that there is more work to be done to achieve gender equality at HENSOLDT – women represent half of the population, after all.
Thomas Müller, our Chief Executive Officer, has himself pledged to work to increase the percentage of women in the leadership team: “We are going to change this!”, he promised. HENSOLDT realises that this will not happen overnight, and we therefore have enterprise-level targets in place to increase the share of women across all functions of HENSOLDT.
The company has set out the following goals to increase the representation of women in management roles: for the share in the global leadership team to reach 25 percent and 30 percent in 2024 and 2026, respectively, and the share within the executive committee to reach 35 percent by 2024.
Moreover, the company has three approaches that it has introduced to actively promote gender diversity: developing a corporate culture that recognises and encourages each individual; talent management to encourage one comparably qualified woman to selection interviews to increase the diversity in the global leadership team via succession management; and increasing the public perception of HENSOLDT as an equal opportunities employer.
These are not just box ticking exercises, however. We know that a diverse workforce brings with it a wide range of approaches that can drive innovation, and in turn our business as a whole will benefit from more inclusion. And with more women in leadership positions, and in turn a more inclusive representation, HENSOLDT hopes that this will inspire young people to believe that a career in technology is for them.
We want equal opportunities for every employee at HENSOLDT, but equality only arises when everybody is offered the same opportunities, and work cannot stop until that is a reality.
It is worth noting that our diversity pledge is not all aims and targets – progress is already underway. One of the most exciting developments is the appointment of Celia Pelaz to the Management Board, something that will come into effect as of July 2021.
Celia has worked across many functions at HENSOLDT and its predecessor Airbus, and became Head of Spectrum Dominance and Airborne Solutions in 2018. While already Member of the Executive Committee, Celia will be the first woman to join the Management Board, and this marks a step change in the approach that the company is taking to its diversity initiatives.
“We need to realise that we are still in a world where not all have equal opportunities. We need to talk openly about it, offer training that helps create awareness, and build a community that fights for a future without biases. We need to give ourselves targets to measure what we want to achieve. And we shall never give up on our dreams.”
Head of Spectrum Dominance & Airborne Solutions
Also the HENSOLDT Elevate initiative, for example, aims to increase the proportion of women in executive positions and in the workforce overall. Elevate is a group wide community to bring up new ideas to increase the proportion and get more diverse.
Other notable gender diversity initiatives include: comprehensive inclusion program launched recently; women in defence networks; women in industry days; and bursary programmes.
These are across HENSOLDT’s four main locations in France, Germany, South Africa and the UK and there are many more in the pipeline that will cover all aspects of diversity in addition to gender equality. The fight for equal opportunities is tireless.
Words of Wisdom
So as a pioneer for women at the company, and indeed in the industry as a whole, what advice does Celia have for women looking to enter this industry, or those wanting to advance to a senior position?
“Never give up,” she says. “If you are close to that point, think about doing it for others. Think about all the little girls for whom you need to be a role model, for whom you are paving the way for a more equal future. Think about giving opportunities to everybody. Think about changing the world for the better.”