EUROPE A company has to reflect society in general and draw benefit from diversity, while at the same time making everyone feel included, both customers and employees alike. This is a matter of survival says Annika Viklund, recently appointed Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Vattenfall.

Annika Viklund, Head of Business Area Distribution, is well known for her commitment to diversity issues. Within Vattenfall Eldistribution in Sweden, she has for instance increased the proportion of female managers from 18 to 50 per cent since 2008.

But diversity is about much more than just gender.

"I am of the opinion that differences empower us in all sectors and at all levels. Different experiences, backgrounds, gender, sexual identities and skills can promote important issues in various ways. There are customers with all types of genders in every sector and if the company is also diverse, there is larger potential to see different aspects of what customers expect, and the company can thereby also better understand all their customers and perform better in business."

Inclusive culture
In the new assignment Annika Viklund will have for two years, this perspective will also be extended to comprise Vattenfall being an inclusive employer.

"Inclusiveness is a concept that draws benefit from our differences. Our customers are different seen from many different perspectives. An inclusive workplace means you are valued for who you are, and you may not be sure this is the case just because you are different. We will establish a culture that is inclusive and see the benefits difference bring. To increase collaboration, we have to be better at including differences."                                                                                                

Broad expertise
As a company in a traditionally homogeneous sector, Vattenfall has to face a large number of challenges according to Annika Viklund, while the outside world is changing rapidly.

"Having a mix of different experiences can be an excellent approach toward preventing the "us-and-them" group mentality. We have to widen our skills base to continue to be an attractive employer but also to ensure customers see us as a progressive and attentive company. As an employer, we have to see the potential in how our society is becoming more diverse and global."

Greatest asset
It is hard to miss the fact that the energy sector is currently undergoing one of the greatest changes in many years and Annika Viklund points out that this change is pushing Vattenfall to embrace diversity more and more and include differences.

"The basic structure of our company is currently going through a change. Our greatest asset is our employees. They have to then feel that they are part of our journey. There will be many different aspects to the energy society we are about to become a part of. We have to discuss the development of the energy society from a wide perspective. There will be different ways to work progressively. We will find ourselves in many different generations of simultaneous energy development and, as a result, will require a range of different skills."

"We will continue to work a lot with diversity, and also ensure we make the most of the global nature of different Business Areas. It is at the same time all about overseeing the HR strategy and social sponsoring, to ensure coherence between our goals. But there may be specific initiatives that we have to focus on, for instance, increasing the number of women in executive positions."

According to Annika Viklund, Vattenfall's vision has to reflect society on the whole.

"What would be great is if I in a few years from now can walk along the corridors without being able to tell what sector we operate in, that we represent a cross-section of society on the whole. That universities and colleges manage to attract people from different backgrounds, gender and age to the energy sector. I am very convinced that competency has nothing to do with age and gender. And it should be generic to enjoy working in the energy sector considering all the exciting changes we are facing."

Greatest strength
Annika Viklund makes it quite clear that one Diversity and Inclusion Officer is not enough if Vattenfall is to achieve its diversity goals and be an inclusive employer.

"This is a task that Group Management cannot do alone. We are serious about everyone being included and diversity is one of the greatest strengths. We just have to make sure all employees feel included." 

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