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Leadership & Management

Philips closing the female leadership gap with commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace

Health Industry Hub | July 26, 2021 |
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Leadership & Management: There’s compelling evidence for linking inclusion and diversity with business success. Diverse and inclusive organisations ensures variety in thought and perspectives that lead to enhanced innovation, greater performance and employee satisfaction.

In an interview with Health Industry Hub, Matt Moran, Managing Director of Philips Australia & New Zealand discussed the organisation’s significant commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and the positive culture that is closing the female leadership gap.

Health Industry Hub: How do you think diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has evolved in the last few years in becoming such a priority in Australian workplaces?

Matt Moran: There has been an increased focus on this over the last few years. It has always been a priority for Philips. We are a big believer in having a flexible and equitable working environment that really allows people to contribute where they feel most comfortable and when they work best.

The transition to home working that we went through last year with COVID-19 was comparatively easy for us because we have encouraged flexible working for a while and so it was not such a big change to work from home for our employees.

If I reflect on a couple of years ago, the idea of having a having a virtual meeting with a key customer would have been frowned upon. In the current ecosystem it is absolutely acceptable. I think it is good for the industry and the economy overall that these new ways of working allow people to contribute the best way they can, which ultimately benefits the economy and businesses.

DEI has been a large imperative for Philips locally and we started on this journey more than three years ago. Philips was first awarded the WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation in 2018 and that continues to grow each year. It is a higher bar to jump every year, but we agreed as a leadership team this is a route that we wanted to go down. We recognised that we could get the best contribution from all our employees by generating a workplace that is inclusive and diverse, and allows people to operate at their best.

The WGEA citation ensures that we continue on the right trend by understanding the industry standards and industry practices. We want to continue to build that value proposition for our employees in addition to new talent coming into the business.

We have held the citation for three years now and we will certainly be going for it again this year.

Health Industry Hub: Recent WGEA reports indicate that it will take over a quarter of a century until gender pay gap is likely to close, and workplace gender equality is not just about fairness, it also has a compelling commercial imperative. Women in senior leadership positions improve business outcomes. How is Philips tackling these critical areas?

Matt Moran: We recognise the findings of the report in both areas. On the pay gap it is not something you can fix overnight as there are a lot of historical aspects that come into play.

For Philips, this is something that we review as a country leadership team on a quarterly basis. It is not always easy to fix historical salaries for people that have been in the business for a very long time but when we bring a new person into the business, say it’s a female coming into the business, we would look at a male on the comparative role and ensure that the starting salary is comparable. It is also true that many women do not necessarily negotiate as hard on their salary requirements, so we want to make sure that despite this their salary is at the level of an equivalent role.

We also recognise the data on the improvement of business outcomes with more females in senior leadership roles. In terms of hiring in key roles we ensure that there is a female on the shortlist. We review the internal promotions to make sure we are fair and equitable in our decisions from a DEI perspective. Additionally, we review exit interviews to understand whether lack of opportunities for advancement was a reason for any females leaving the business.

We need to build an environment where women feel supported in taking care of their family and succeeding in their career. That way they do not feel they need to sacrifice one or the other.

I’m very proud that 80% of Philips’ country leadership team, the team I lead, incorporates women. Our management teams is formed by 35% women which is an improvement from 21% in 2019. We hope at some point we will mirror the working economy which is approximately 50% females.

Health Industry Hub: How do you shift the conversation around DEI to create more deeply engaged leaders and teams who want to come on the transformation journey?

Matt Moran: I was fortunate that some of the best managers I’ve had in my career have been females and they have gotten the best out of me. I have known through experience that commercial outcomes can be very strong with a diverse team.

The couple of things we needed to do is make sure that our country leadership team was leading by example. This is doing what we say we do in terms of understanding who our top performers are, but also understanding where that talent sits in the organisation and keeping ourselves honest with the data. We have trained our managers to become aware of their unconscious biases, so it does not lead them away from female talent.

Continuing to analyse the quarterly data is very important. Why are employees leaving or joining the organisation? Are we being fair in terms of salaries and promotions?

It is making sure that the people in our organisation understand that this is an imperative. It is the right thing to do from a fairness perspective, but it is also the right thing to do from a business performance perspective.

We have also put in place bottom-up DEI employee-led programs. The Philips Women Lead program focusses on networking, connection, supporting growth and mentoring.

Through the national mentoring component, female employees get to connect with female leaders in the business, understand how their career developed and discuss their growth opportunities.

Health Industry Hub: What has been Philips’ most successful DEI initiative based on employee feedback and/or engagement?

Matt Moran: I’m particularly proud of what we have done around parental leave in allowing flexibility and support. We want our female talent to be able to perform at their best and not to suffer from a career or financial perspective. In Australia, we support 18 weeks paid leave and on top of the government leave and 52 weeks full superannuation. We also provide partner/carer support of 4 weeks paid leave.

Additionally, we offer financial support as they transition back into full time work that can contribute to childcare, for example.

I think this is one of the reasons why our female leadership has grown from 21% to 35% since 2019. It’s because people feel comfortable stepping out, coming back in and still being able to advance their career.

In addition to the global engagement surveys, we run Australia and New Zealand data which demonstrates high performance in the diversity and inclusion areas.

Health Industry Hub: What is Philips’ vision in enhancing DEI in the next 12 months? Which areas will you be focusing on and why?

Matt Moran: The flexible working reality is going to continue to grow so we need to find ways to continue supporting that transition to the new normal. Continuing to look at what we can do to ease and encourage collaboration in this broader flexible working environment is crucial.

We will continue to monitor the quarterly data to further understand pay gaps, the promotion of female talent, and provide further training on flexible working to ensure our employees are supported.

We are expanding the Philips Women Lead program and our general mentoring program to support growth and development across our organisation.

We have recently launched Oxygen Fridays where people get the time to really stop and reflect and work out what they want to do in their career. We basically say there should be no operational meetings on Fridays.

Externally, we want to spend more time with our customers and business partners so they understand where we are going and what our expectations of our partner companies are to hold us to account. We want our customers and partners to also understand what our values represent in relation to DEI and we have plans in place to implement this through the year.


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