Promoting diversity and inclusion is a top priority for Axis Communications. Having diverse teams working in every function of the company is crucial to drive innovation. After all, if everyone comes from the same background and thinks in the same way, how do you expect to get fresh ideas?
“We take pride in being a progressive, forward thinking company that actively embraces diversity and inclusion,” says Malin Svensson, Chief People Officer at Axis. “Diversity is important, it is about adding it to the culture that we have at Axis, and providing us with the diverse workforce with the unique abilities that we need, to innovate for a smarter, safer world.”
One example of how the company is developing relationships amongst the team is ‘diversity fika’ – taking the Swedish tradition of a coffee and cookie – to encourage one-to-one meetings between managers and employees in minority or under-represented groups. In a similar vein, Axis also has a mentorship program with a focus for mentors and mentees to connect from different backgrounds.
The meeting of different backgrounds and skills fosters innovation, creative thinking and employees’ well-being
This helps to create a stronger, more diverse team. Malin explains why this is important, “We want to be an employer for many people, where you feel safe to be who you are, whoever you want to be. The meeting of different backgrounds and skills fosters innovation, creative thinking and employees’ well-being. It’s a smart strategy, driving results.”
Often diversity and inclusion are used interchangeably, but it is important to point out that they are different concepts. Diversity only indicates the presence of different demographics in an organization. Adding inclusion into the mix, indicates that everyone in the company are invited to contribute and be heard equally. An environment that includes those from different backgrounds and skills fosters innovation, creative thinking and employees’ well-being. In fact this ethos has worked so well in Canada, the team’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion earned it a place on 2020 Best Workplaces for Inclusion.
Supporting the change
Axis promotes diversity through many initiatives in every Axis department, from engineering to finance. Gender equality is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the company’s Sustainability Report, several initiatives are described that promote better working conditions, ranging from stress management training programs, bias training to activities that lift diversity and inclusion.
As a result, a conscious recruitment process was promoted in Europe to boost the number of female employees. This was successful with, for example, 66% of the positions filled in France in 2019 being taken by women. Axis will continue towards its goal, which aims to reach a defined equality of at least 60/40 of either sex.
The other regions where Axis operates are also working to attract more female employees. For instance, Axis Americas is cooperating with local high schools and universities to generate interest in security industry-related careers, with focused attention on inspiring young women. A leadership program for women is also being developed through a partnership with the Security Industry Association (SIA).
Another initiative is the Women In Security events Axis has hosted in the US and EMEA. This is the perfect occasion to acknowledge the women who are already part of the security industry, to network, build competence and share experience through workshops and stories shared by industry leading women both within and outside Axis.
Diverse teams drive growth
Axis understands it is not only gender diversity that needs to be addressed. A committee set up in the Americas is leading the way, looking at ways to branch out from just a focus on gender and supporting the overall community and inclusion in other ways. For example, in New York and Canada they are working on a project to help the Axis sales team support minority owned companies. They are also working with the Boston pride parade to provide cameras for streaming during the parade in June.
The efforts Axis is taking towards diversity and equal opportunities for all are more than a politically correct stand. There is evidence that diversity and business success are linked and could help to address the skill shortage the technology industry is currently facing. To play its part in fostering this change, Axis has developed a series of educational webinars, which often discuss diversity and inclusion and are accessible to anyone wanting to further their knowledge.
In short, a diverse, inclusive team gives companies a unique edge, first because it fosters innovation by introducing new way of thoughts, secondly because it makes it more desirable for young generations to apply to that company and, ultimately, it brings more profit.
Luckily, more and more companies realize that inclusion and diversity are essential to drive business growth. Without them, innovation dries up. Axis has the intention to continue in this commitment to raise awareness and introduce more young women to the security industry globally, supporting their education and careers.