Equality in the workplace: the Mondelēz Bulgaria practice

The mission of Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation is to support the personal and social development of women in Bulgaria through original programmes for personal development and active citizenship trainings. The experience we have gained over the years has taught us that in addition to our work on the ground it is crucial to advocate for gender equality policies based on data and evidence.

In a series of interviews, we introduce you to the policies and practices of companies that have been awarded the Badge of Distinction for Significant Achievements in the Effective Implementation of the Gender Equality Policy, which is awarded annually by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

We discuss the topic with Veselina Staykova from Mondelez Bulgaria

In 2020 Mondelēz Bulgaria was awarded with the Badge of Distinction for Significant Achievements in the Effective Implementation of the Gender Equality Policy. What are the internal policies that you implement and helped you achieve this honour?

At first glance, every organisation has its own policy, understanding and attitude towards the topic of equality. When one looks deeper, one can see that these policies are always guided by the universal principle of equality, namely: to treat others how you want to be treated. At Mondelēz, we strongly believe that everyone deserves an equal chance to succeed based on their contribution, talent and dedication. We value diversity in the workplace, and as a business we can only “profit” from diversity in our teams as it leads to difference in ideas, suggestions for improvement and a climate of sharing. Diversity requires us to be open and welcoming to people regardless of race, coluor, religion, gender, age, ethnic or national belonging, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information or any other legally protected personal characteristic or status. Through a shared commitment to an open and inclusive culture across the company, we continue to work toward a workplace that will not only attract the best talent, but will also lead to the best results. That’s why we believe in a workplace where differences are accepted and valued, and everyone can be authentic, express themselves freely and without any worries.

Five years ago, the company renewed its commitment to working toward gender equality, diversity and inclusion employing three key priorities: more women leaders; an inclusive workplace free of bias; and creating an active and diverse community. Already in 2019 we implemented programmes and practices to embrace the three goals set out in the Mondelēz philosophy expressing this notion of equality.

Besides our various internal policies and practices, we can share that beyond the gender equality percentages in the company we have emphasised on the topic of gender equality even more strongly in all our internal discussions. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is what leads invariably our talent acquisition processes and is part of our corporate DNA.

A workplace without prejudice: A flexible working model is essential for building a modern culture of growth, allowing us all to do our work where and when we are at our best. A number of studies have also shown that workplace flexibility is one of the main reasons why employees choose to stay with their current employer. Therefore, Mondelēz also focuses on this opportunity as an additional impetus to support gender equality and diversity of personalities. Our ambition is to create an open and modern flexible working culture among our employees, and this is only realised through a culture of trust and a focus on performance and results.

An active and purposeful community of equality between women and men: building an equal working community inspires and engages colleagues more and more, and this reflects the diverse needs and perspectives of our colleagues, but also of our customers. By creating a partnership philosophy, we encourage people to feel welcome in their work environment. This is the goal of all our platforms, aimed at creating diverse local communities by connecting people and encouraging them to lean on each other, to speak and express themselves comfortably without hiding their differences.

The company has always promoted equality between women and men in decision-making processes, and has made efforts through internal procedures, committees and regulations to combat gender-based violence, as well as to protect and support anyone in a disadvantaged position.

How does the application of these policies positively affect your company?

At Mondelēz, we believe that higher employee engagement, gender equality, and inclusivity lead to more creativity, innovation, and enhance the company’s reputation and brand. With the experience we have, we are convinced that the next generation of employees (86% women and 74% men) are interested in and choose those companies that implement policies, standards and initiatives that support gender equality. We believe that Mondelēz meets the requirements and philosophy of the young generation in this direction and is among the most desirable companies to work for in Bulgaria.  This motivates us to be even more flexible, because we see the positive performance of our employees precisely when they have the opportunity to have a balanced life.

Transparent pay and career development procedures are an important factor in promoting equality in the workplace. A Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms has recently been adopted and is to be transposed into the national legislation. What are your company’s internal policies on transparency and equal pay for equal work?

In determining the remuneration the company uses only information and parameters for the given position different from the characteristics (be them personal) of an employee. This means that what remuneration an employee will receive is not linked in any form to their gender. Transparency is ensured by internal procedures relating to the remuneration structure while another transparency guarantor is the Policy for the Publication of Internal Career Opportunities.

What is the ratio of women to men in your company and are there women in leadership positions?

The ratio of women to men at Mondelēz Bulgaria is 55% women to 45% men, with 67% women as  part of the company’s leadership team.

Do you think there is a need for legislative changes and more specific policies at a national level to encourage employers to implement internal gender equality measures?

In my view, for the most part of Bulgarian employers the philosophy of equality is part of the culture of their organisation. I don’t think that if you don’t have the internal need/understanding of the importance of diversity to your company, new legislative measures (often punitive rather than preventive) would fundamentally change the “demographics” of an organisation. So, my “recommendation” would be more along the lines of supporting employers in this behaviour through various programmes. On the other hand, we are all faced with the problem of a lack of people (employees) while a large group (such as women over the age of 55 or Roma women) remains outside the labour market. The state could be that driver and supporter in this aspect  in introducing them as active participants.

  • Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation is a member of the National Council for Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers, which votes on the proposals for the selection of the winners of the Badge of Distinction for Significant Achievements in the Effective Implementation of the Gender Equality Policy made by the Commission for examination and evaluation of the submitted applications, which is appointed by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.
  • You can learn more about the activities of the National Council for Equality between Women and Men at the Council of Ministers, which is a permanent, coordinating and advisory body that assists the Council of Ministers in the development and implementation of the national gender equality policy here.
  • You can find Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation’s statements in relation to the work of the Council here.

Cover photo: Veselina Staykova – People Lead, Commercial Unit BG