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Mar 08, 2022

#BreakTheBias - International Women’s Day 2022

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

March 8, 2022, is International Women’s Day (IWD) -  a global day marking the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year is about raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. It’s about what women can achieve when stereotypical gender biases are eliminated from society and the workplace.

 

Whether we know it or not, virtually all of us exhibit so-called implicit bias - the qualities or stereotypes that we unconsciously attribute to the people we meet and interact with. If you think you’re not biased, you are wrong. Psychologists tell us that unconscious bias and stereotyping are deeply rooted in our upbringing and the societies in which we live, making most of it beyond our individual control. For example, in many parts of the world there was, for a long time, an assumption that males make better engineers and females make better nurses. Yet research has shown that it’s simply not true.

Disproportionately fewer women CEOs

Unconscious gender stereotypes occur in virtually every industry and sector, but they are markedly noticeable when you look at the number of female CEOs around the world. For example, in 2020 in the Netherlands, women made up just 4.3% of the country’s CEOs, being outnumbered by male CEOs whose first name is Peter (The most common first name in the Netherlands is Jan). Earlier this year, it prompted a campaign urging women on LinkedIn to change their first name to Peter to make the point.
If the roots of unconscious gender biases lie in the societies we live in, the solution is to change society. If our children and subsequent generations grow up in a world that offers equal opportunities to everyone, regardless of gender, many of today’s gender stereotypes will eventually disappear. This year’s International Women’s Day aims to accelerate that change. Its theme #BreakTheBias - Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated’ is about what women can achieve in every walk of life and a call to action to bring about change.
Woman smiling behind her desk

Promoting equality

Philips believes that breaking all forms of bias, including gender, is not only good for the well-being of its employees but essential to the future of the company. It is why inclusion and diversity is an important part of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy and reporting. It’s why the company made unconscious bias awareness training the starting point for Philips leaders to create a dialogue across the organization. And it is why employees who are passionate about inclusion and diversity and passionate about Philips created Employee Resource Groups with their colleagues to foster and promote equality and inclusion. This ensures a holistic and inclusive approach that makes sure all voices within the company are heard and taken into account.
Let’s not just imagine a world where everyone is given the freedom to reach their full potential and feel valued for who they are and what they bring, let’s make it a reality today. That starts by putting a spotlight on women’s achievements. Women who give their best every day to step-by-step break the bias. Our unsung heroes.

Deeptha Khanna

Philips’ Chief Business Leader Personal Health

“Let’s not just imagine a world where everyone is given the freedom to reach their full potential and feel valued for who they are and what they bring, let’s make it a reality today,” says Deeptha Khanna, Philips’ Chief Business Leader Personal Health. “That starts by putting a spotlight on women’s achievements. Women who give their best every day to step-by-step break the bias. Our unsung heroes.”

 

In September 2021, to further reduce the space for bias in a period of profound change, the company launched its Global Diversity Council. Comprising senior executives, each representing a Philips business unit, geographic market, or corporate department, this new body provides governance and oversight on Philips’ diversity efforts, promotes and role models company-wide behavior change, and communicates progress, working closely with the Employee Resource Groups.

 

"Having senior leaders from across Philips actively involved in our Inclusion & Diversity strategy and deployment – taking ownership to drive change – will elevate the game. And they are very eager to do so," says Global Diversity Council Chair and Philips CHRO, Daniela Seabrook. “This important initiative will accelerate progress on our company’s inclusion and diversity efforts and help us build an I&D roadmap for the coming years.”

A feeling of belonging

At Philips, equality is not just about gender, it’s also about race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and every other aspect of what makes each of its employees a unique individual. The company also believes that encouraging diversity and fostering inclusion are key to its mission of improving the lives of 2.5 billion people a year by 2030 through meaningful innovation. Because life is better when #youareyou.

 

“Embracing our differences makes us more creative, innovative, and effective. That’s how we can best anticipate the needs of our customers, now and in the future – by representing them, in all their diversity, in our own teams,” says Shez Partovi, Philips Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer.

 

While diversity is certainly a prerequisite, it is inclusion that takes diversity and turns it into meaningful innovation.

Woman standing in front of a rainbow

“Although there are still areas we need to focus on, our employee base in Philips is already very diverse. However, it’s inclusion that makes it a business imperative, fueling innovation and growth,” says Astrid Balsink, Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity (I&D). “There is no gain if people don’t feel valued, visible, and safe in sharing how they are doing. So, you can look very diverse, but if no one is speaking up, or dares to challenge the status quo that maybe this is not the right direction for a particular project, then there is zero net gain. Inclusion makes diversity - and thus our teams and their performance - thrive.”

 

The key to creating that environment is learning the art of listening.

The best team leaders are the ones who actively encourage everyone in the team to put forward their thoughts, listen carefully to what they have to say, and then build on collective ideas. It is through collective, diverse, and combined ideas that we often garner the best insights. Encouraging diversity and fostering inclusion doesn’t mean one has to be a member of the group to play a powerful role. Each of us has an important role to play.

Roy Jakobs

Chief Business Leader, Connected Care at Philips

“The best team leaders are the ones who actively encourage everyone in the team to put forward their thoughts, listen carefully to what they have to say, and then build on collective ideas. It is through collective, diverse, and combined ideas that we often garner the best insights,” comments Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader, Connected Care at Philips. “Encouraging diversity and fostering inclusion doesn’t mean one has to be a member of the group to play a powerful role. Each of us has an important role to play.”
Man and woman talking at the office

Creating opportunity

Gender equality also means giving women equal opportunities for career advancement.

 

“Philips is a large global organization which naturally brings diversity in terms of nations and cultures, creating a stimulating, diverse work environment where employees from countries all around the world are united by our shared purpose. However, we believe we should have more females in leadership positions. Our commitment is to have 35% females in senior leadership positions by 2025, and since May 2018 we’ve already grown the number of women at the top from 19% to 28%,” says Megan Giannini, Philips’ Global Head of Talent Acquisition. “However, growing into a leader in health tech also brings challenges because we are into the STEM functions - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - which have traditionally been perceived as male domains.”

 

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 indicated that it will still take more than a lifetime to make global gender equality a reality. Looking to the future, the report reveals that the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles. For example, in cloud computing just 12% of professionals are women. Similarly, in engineering and Data and AI, the numbers are 15% and 26% respectively.

 

Nevertheless, Giannini remains optimistic.

 

“If we remain laser-focused and proactive in eliminating these gender biases, I definitely think we will be able to catch up and achieve our goal,” she says.

Women's Day Key Visual

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Laura Seikritt

Laura Seikritt

Philips Global Press Office

Tel.: +31 6 20740318

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