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In our Diversity@NORMA series, we present the diversity of employees who work for NORMA Group. In 2021, the focus of the series was on the female employees of NORMA Group. In this interview, the initiators Marie Wöller and Ivana Blazanovic talk about their motivation behind and experiences with the blog series.
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
Ivana: At NORMA Group, we are in contact with outstanding personalities every day. That’s how we came up with the idea of Diversity@NORMA, based on our positive experiences with our colleagues. Since women are still strongly underrepresented in the working world, in industry or in management positions worldwide, we wanted to give female colleagues at NORMA Group a stage. We launched the series with Annette Stieve, our CFO and the first woman to serve on the NORMA Group Management Board.
Marie: Diversity and equal opportunities played only a subordinate role for many companies just a few years ago. Fortunately, this has now changed, partly due to international movements. Today, diversity is not a “nice to have” but a “must have”! Diversity brings us forward personally, but also the company. With the Diversity@NORMA series and the focus on women at NORMA Group, we wanted to highlight the challenges many women face in their professional lives. At the same time, we create inspiration and motivation.
What benefits or advantages do you derive from the series?
Ivana: With Diversity@NORMA, we have created an additional opportunity for colleagues to network and to get to know new functions and areas of responsibility, including for us. We enjoyed every interview and the impressions from the different perspectives. We are still in contact with many of these people. In addition – and this was extremely important to us – we gave individual careers and strong personalities a special visibility within the company. It’s great to see that a network character has emerged from the series and that the benefits are thus also being passed on.
Marie: We had very open and honest conversations. In this context, we also talked about very personal topics. We are very honored by the trust placed in us. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants for their trust and openness.
Personally, I was able to take away a lot from the interviews. All of the people we interviewed have mastered individual challenges. Each interview was unique, inspiring and motivating. For example, one participant reported that she had achieved everything professionally and was now focusing on being a mentor for younger colleagues. I think this is a very important message. Support each other and help each other. Together we can achieve great things.
What were your experiences with the series?
Ivana: The Diversity@NORMA blog series was novel in its way. The feedback was very positive regardless of gender, and the impact was far-reaching. As a result, we managed to be shortlisted for the German Prize for Online Communication alongside other well-known companies. This is a great milestone that clearly underscores the success of the series.
Marie: As part of the series, we spoke with female colleagues around the globe, for example from Mexico, Australia and Singapore. All of them are wonderful and strong women. Each of them has her own unique story – and yet they all faced similar professional and private challenges. One insight I was able to draw for myself from the series is that Germany is still very subdued when it comes to reconciling family and career. Many countries are way ahead of us in this area.
Ivana: We also noticed that “team spirit” is really lived out here. This can also be seen in the individual careers of those we interviewed. They have received a lot of support at NORMA Group and have grown beyond themselves. They are happy to pass on this and many other valuable experiences to the next generation. This is exactly what makes up team spirit and is a vital component of entrepreneurial success.
What insights did you personally gain from the series?
Marie: One message that I took away from all of the interviews is that we should support, encourage and inspire one another. At the same time, we should not forget to always be ourselves. My favorite quote that fits very well at this point is from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
Ivana: Our entrepreneurial diversity stands metaphorically for a clockwork consisting of many individual specifications and experiences. So I personally learned from the series that individuality requires diversity. We should internalize and live the fact that everyone has their own individual strengths. Promoting these in a targeted manner is essential for employee satisfaction and thus also for the success of the company.
What advice do you have for NORMA Group or women in general?
Marie: My advice to NORMA Group is that we create more opportunities for global exchange. We have so many great employees. If we network everyone and create a platform for this, it will move us forward as a company. We can learn a lot from each other and from our diversity. My advice to all women is that each of us has to overcome private and professional challenges in our lives. The important thing here is not to give up. We all grow from our challenges.
Ivana: Openness to other people, cultures and topics is exactly the fluid that defines good collaboration. We should preserve that. Diversity is the “connector” that connects us and expresses one of the company’s most valuable assets: its workforce. My advice to all colleagues is therefore to show gratitude for positive feedback and at the same time openness to constructive feedback. An open feedback culture moves us all forward.
How will the series continue next year?
Marie: The Diversity@NORMA series will continue in 2022, but with a different focus. We will focus on different cultures and intercultural exchange. How does the culture in which I live and work shape me? How do the other cultures of my colleagues influence me? We are really looking forward to it.
Ivana: We would like to thank our colleagues for the great insights. We are also very pleased to be continuing the Diversity@NORMA series next year with the addition of Kim Schmiedel, Manager Corporate Responsibility. Together, we want to build on the success of the blog series in 2022 by highlighting the strengths of our corporate culture. The goal is to show how the company can benefit from our diverse cultures.