Why Gender Diversity Matters

14th May 2018

Posted In: In Your Opinion

With over 13,000 colleagues working across 150 stores, head office and two distribution centres Tesco Ireland is one of Ireland’s largest private sector employers. We caught up with Geraldine Casey, People Director, Tesco Ireland to understand why gender diversity matters…

I’m really proud to work in a gender diverse organisation; at Tesco Ireland we have a gender balanced Board of Directors with four men and four women, and the Tesco team across our business is 50:50 male and female too.  As a business we believe that gender diversity is really important, not only because it leads to better decision-making and collaboration but also to a more diverse and inclusive culture.

I love what I do and the people in Tesco are what make it such a great place to work. I’m very lucky to have ended up having different careers in the same business, whether at the front line in stores, managing Operations for the company, overseeing IT or being People Director which I do now and this involves overseeing all our people and rewards strategy, creating ways for people to get on in Tesco, and helping to ensure Tesco is a great place to work.  But I’ve also worked in both male-dominated and female-dominated teams long enough to learn that a culture of sameness can be very limiting.

One of the main challenges is that genders confine to the traditional, somewhat certain, stereotypes at work, it’s an automatic conditioning from society and the traditional norms that women are good communicators, where men are more assertive. We need to get beyond these overly normalised gender stereotypes and get to skill set as the core purpose.

Businesses play an important role in creating an environment where everyone is welcome and people feel able to truly be themselves without fear of judgement or discrimination. Inclusion has always been at the heart of our values or simply put – everyone is welcome at Tesco. As an equal opportunities employer, it’s really important to us that our customers feel welcome when they shop with us and our colleagues feel they can get on whoever they are. As such Tesco has embedded an inclusive culture where difference is valued.

We believe in treating people with respect, giving everyone an equal opportunity to get on.  I believe that more and more organisations are recognising the importance of bringing together a diverse and representative set of people and in order to be successful, they have to represent their customers in the society in which they operate.

We’re passionate about serving Ireland’s shoppers a little better every day and our colleagues are at the heart of that. “We treat others how they like to be treated” is one of our core values at Tesco. It’s something that guides us in whatever we do. Great teams successfully bring together a wide range of different skills and ways of thinking. I was very proud this year when Tesco successfully achieved the Great Place to Work standard. We always strive to put our colleagues first and we are delighted to see this recognised. It’s our people that make the difference every day – helping us create value for our customers. Ensuring we have a diversity of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives can help ensure we’re making the right decisions for customers.

We use our regular “What Matters to You” colleague survey to monitor whether colleagues feel Tesco creates an inclusive culture and it’s an area that we continue to work on.   I am extremely proud of the ways our colleagues really support our inclusive culture for example over 150 Tesco colleagues from across Ireland took to the streets of Dublin last year to celebrate the Dublin Pride festival by marching in the parade alongside their partners, friends and families. Participants wore “Bursting with Pride” t-shirts and danced on a 40-foot Tesco delivery truck that acted as a float on the day with its own DJ and crowd cheerometer on board!  Our stores along the route also got into the spirit with special Pride-themed signs and Pride in-store activations. We also recently celebrated International Women’s Day with colleagues from across the organisation coming together for workshops on the importance of building personal brand based on competence, confidence and communication skills, to encourage and empower colleagues to develop in the workplace.

We hope to play an even bigger role going forward and take part in even more events this year celebrating the power of being yourself. I’m really inspired by the work that our colleagues are doing day-in and day-out across our business and I believe that by working together there is much more we can do.