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Sustainability & Society

Diversity & inclusion: UNIQA en route to more diversity

23.11.2021 5 minutes reading time

UNIQA laid the foundation for more diversity and inclusion with the appointment of Ulrike Kienast-Salmhofer as Diversity Officer in 2020. The Supervisory Board, which pays special attention to this topic, provides strong support to achieve these goals.

It is essential with cross-hierarchical cooperation on several levels to create more diversity in the company. This topic will only receive the necessary weight if everyone involved pulls together, something which in turn can lead to greater awareness among employees and managers. But why are diversity and inclusion so important for UNIQA?

'We are convinced that as part of our UNIQA 3.0 strategy program we must focus even more on our employees and create a corporate culture in which we promote innovation and growth. Diversity and inclusion play a central role in this because variety creates diversity, and this provides us with different skills and perspectives. If we succeed in creating an inclusive environment, then we will also be able to use this potential and turn it into success', explains René Knapp, Member of the Management Board HR & Brand, the importance of diversity and inclusion at UNIQA.

Decisive initiatives with clear goals are needed to ensure that the two terms diversity and inclusion do not remain mere lip service. Thanks to close cooperation between the Supervisory Board, Management Board, Diversity Officer and D&I Committee, numerous projects have been implemented in recent months. A number of UNIQA colleagues care deeply about the topic and are also happy to actively lend their support and participate in improving it.

However, UNIQA pursues a diverse corporate culture not only in Austria but also throughout the group:

'By setting up a committee for diversity and inclusion, we always have a clear view of our goals and measures. In order to ensure that we are not only going in the same direction in Austria, but throughout the UNIQA Group on the way to more diversity, I support this body in all initiatives', emphasises Wolfgang Kindl, Board Member for Customer & Market International, the relevance of a group-wide D&I strategy.

Equality and inclusion – the declared goal of the women's network

We are all aware of how useful networks are both in the private and in the professional sphere. The UNIQA women's network was set up so that women in particular can utilise their career opportunities at UNIQA. The aim of this association is to contribute to the equality and inclusion of women in all areas of work and decision-making in the company.

'We need a women's network at UNIQA because there is currently an imbalance between women and men when it comes to filling management positions. Currently, women make up 40 percent of the total workforce, but only 20 percent of managers are women. This imbalance needs to be redressed', describes Süreyya Ates-Gen, Head of Investment Accounting and co-founder of the women's network, the mission.

The women's network wants to give the concerns and needs of women at UNIQA a voice and ensure that they are not only heard but also specifically incorporated into measures and activities of the corporate strategy. In addition, the women's network wishes to offer female colleagues an environment in which they are able to exchange ideas and support one another.

More diversity through recruiting guidelines

In order to achieve more diversity at all management levels and in all teams, a pilot project with new recruiting guidelines for the back office at HQ was introduced in the autumn of 2021. This is to ensure that all employees have the same opportunities and that managers are selected based on a transparent, uniform and objective selection process.

'In principle we are already well positioned when it comes to diversity, but there are still a few pain points that we need to address. One of them is diversity in recruiting. The guidelines were set up so that we can create more transparency and equal opportunities', explains Ljiljana Nikolic, Head of HR Business Partners & Recruiting, the aim of the new rules.

For example, women-related platforms are increasingly being used to advertise certain positions. Head-hunters are also obliged to propose both male and female candidates. The shortlist for a management position should also include at least two people of different genders. If compliance with these two rules is not possible, a written declaration must be made and submitted to HR and the D&I officer.

Learning from each other – new mentoring program initiated

Professional goals can be achieved when people have the opportunity to ask other people for advice and to learn from feedback. This is the essence of mentoring. It enables the transfer of technical and strategic knowledge or knowledge from experience. In order to achieve the goal of 'more women in management positions', a new mentoring program initially aimed exclusively at female mentees has been launched at UNIQA.

'We need a good mentoring program at UNIQA because as a company we promote young talent, accompany them on their way and also support them. And in addition, this results in an inspiring tandem in which mentee and mentor learn from each other and grow together', says Olivera Böhm, Head of Corporate International and member of the D&I Committee, as she emphasises the benefits of the mentoring program.

After successful introduction, the program is to be made accessible to all employees in a second step.

In addition to these projects, there are numerous other initiatives that are being pursued on the way to more diversity at UNIQA. In the coming weeks and months we will report regularly on milestones and results.

'Diversity & Inclusion isn't just a project – it's a journey. At UNIQA we have set out to create an environment in which everyone has the same opportunities, is perceived and accepted as a human being and can get involved in a meaningful way. Everyone who is part of UNIQA are fellow travellers and part of this journey', concludes Ulrike Kienast-Salmhofer.