Ahead of International Women’s Day, it´s time to celebrate Ingka Group’s achievements, such as gender-balanced leadership and closing the pay gap.
But it’s also an opportunity to reflect and remember that Ingka Group’s strong performance in gender equality didn’t just happen overnight – it has been a business priority for over a decade.
During that time, the impact of women role models and male allies has been critical to the company’s success as a purpose-driven brand. Those women who showed the way by smashing through glass ceilings. Those male allies who stood shoulder to shoulder and said: “enough is enough”.
“Even though there is a lot to be proud of, there is still work to be done,” says Pernille Hagild, ED&I Leader, Ingka Group. “Around the world gender equality is stalling. At Ingka, we believe that gender equality at home and at work lies at the heart of gender equality in society – and we will never stop pushing for it.”
Tania Dias - Tech for all
Diversity leads to better and brighter ideas, which is important for tech because it needs to be built for all
Throughout my career, having women leaders and people who have believed and opened doors for me has made a big difference. I’m so grateful for each of these role models that have crossed my path and have indelibly shaped the kind of leader I aspire to be.
I’m often one of the only women in the room in the industries I’ve worked in, let alone person of color. I’ve learned that it’s so important to open doors for others. Not only so that others can walk through them and follow but to empower others to reimagine and expand what the door might even look like in the first place.
At IKEA, I have the privilege to be working with the most diverse team I’ve ever been a part of — in terms of backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, gender – which is led by my manager, one of the most trailblazing (woman) leaders I’ve ever met. This experience has not only confirmed to me the importance of having diverse teams building and shaping tech, but it has normalized this for me. We need to build for and learn how to manage diverse teams like these if we are committed to tech that is inclusive, ethical, and good for society — something that IKEA is leading the way on.
So, I want to give a big thank you to all women and allies that every day make space at the table for voices that may not sound like theirs. They support and empower so many to make their mark in the world.
Tomasz Jachimczak - Sharing is caring
Equality starts at home. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to go on my paternal leave
Equality has always been a vital part of my relationships. In the spring of last year I used my additional 4-week paternity leave provided by IKEA Poland. This period of time was important to me for several reasons.
First of all, it allowed me to spend time with my newborn baby and support my partner in the first weeks of the baby’s life. During this period, the father can play a key role in caring for the child and household.
Paternity leave made me establish a stronger bond with my child, which had a positive impact not only on us but the whole family. Teaching new skills can be tough, but somehow fun and very rewarding at the same time.
Last but not least, the leave was important to me because of gender equality. Thanks to the fact that I had the opportunity to take leave and care for the child, a more equal division of responsibilities in the family became possible. Fathers who take paternity leave can show concern for their family and a willingness to take an active part in raising their children. It gave me the opportunity to devote time to caring for my child and support my partner in her professional and personal growth.
Tanja Dysli - The value of support
Be the role model you wished you had
The number of women working in the logistics industry has dropped globally over the last two years. Yet, according to a study by the European commission, more women in the logistics industry means improved decision-making, creativity and more innovation.
During my career, I was fortunate to have great role models and support from some incredible women—and of course, many fantastic men as well. They empowered me to want to strive for more, to not accept a “no”, and how to juggle motherhood with a career and ambitions. I know I had support from incredible mentors to navigate through tougher times and sponsors that advocated for me when I was not in the room to speak for myself.
Role models matter and have an amplified benefit for women due to biases and negative stereotypes women come across in the industry. So, if you are a woman reading this, I encourage you to be the role model you wished you had when you started out.
To Nicole Peper, Petra Färe, Evelyn Higler-Wijdoogen and Mirja Viinanen: Thank you for your support and believing in me.
Stevie Lewis - Think people first
The law is what I do; DEI is who I am
Gender equality is a story about people. Gender is expansive; it’s not rigid nor binary; it is not about traditional roles. Gender equality is about a wonderful intersection of dimensions that invite many different voices to the conversation. Focusing on gender equality allows benefits to extend to others; it builds up families, contributes to communities, and helps secure the welfare of our next generation. When there is gender equity in pay, promotion, and access to opportunity, it can make a difference in the quality of life for so many others. It’s important to ensure that gender equality is applied across ethnicities, races, and nationalities. Balanced, intersectionality is important.
As a Black woman, I want the same opportunities as everyone else. I like to believe that I have the same core objectives: I want to raise my family and have the resources to fertilize the ground for my children to be successful in life. The desire to raise, protect, and provide for a family is not unique to any one race or ethnicity; it is a shared, universal desire. This is a story about people and how we treat each other, how we as allies make sure everyone has the same opportunity to build the lives we want, the lives we all deserve. So, let’s start with the basics: equality.
Petra Färe - We must speed up gender equality
We must speed up gender equality because it’s good for the world
Growing up, I was never told there were limits to what I could do or achieve in life. I was going to school and playing soccer while the parents in society were working and sharing house chores. I didn’t know how fortunate I was that people and structures were supporting me. It pains me today when I read, see or hear, even my own daughter, say what girls can or can’t do.
Currently, gender equality seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Professionally and personally, I am committed to do my utmost so future generations achieve gender equality. All decisions are better when they’re based on different angles and aspects. Playing a lot of sports growing up I had to acknowledge most boys were physically stronger than me, yet our common passion united us. We could still strategize together even if we played on separate teams.
In the workforce today, we can truly be on the same, better team together and aim for the same goals. The beauty of being a company present in so many countries is to have stretch goals, especially when we aim to be a force for good. In Ingka each country has the same goals for gender equality, and I am proud that we have 50% female managers in Japan.
With optimism and focus it’s possible to make positive societal change faster than you’d think. And for gender equality it’s a change we must speed up.
Marina Dubakina - Leadership is beyond gender
Developing and growing is for everyone, not for the few
During my journey at IKEA I received a lot of support from the leaders around me, leaders of different nationalities, different ages, and different genders. But they had one thing in common – they were able to see an individual behind my gender, age, and nationality. They saw a person, a human being with its talents, its vulnerabilities, its needs, and its desire to grow.
My leadership commitment is to do the same. To see a human being before demographics and to advocate and support each talent that identifies with IKEA culture & values and has passion for our business and people.
At IKEA we see diversity as a key business asset and as a growth enabler. Our task is to offer solutions for life at home that resonate with the many people out there, our customers. Each one of us can contribute based on our talents, our unique backgrounds, diverse experiences, and perspectives. That’s why we launched leadership by all – leadership has no gender, the only thing that matters is one’s willingness to develop and grow!
Kozue Fumikura - Gender equality as a human right
Everyone is valued, and they should be allowed to raise their voices and have opportunities
To me, gender equality is very important because it is a human right.
I strongly believe that everyone is valued, and they should be allowed to raise their voices and have opportunities. This applies to all of us no matter which gender we are, where we are from, and how old we are. As a woman in Japan, I try to live with this belief.
After graduating from university, I started to work at IKEA, and I felt I was heard and seen from the first day. This gave me the strength to be myself and raise my voice. Two years later, I found the information that IKEA was looking for co-workers who want to participate in the training program to become market managers within three years. When I first saw this, I thought this could be my opportunity to develop myself to be a great leader who can influence business and people in a positive way. Soon after, I went to talk to my manager, and he was very positive and supported me to go through the whole interview process. I am very grateful that he didn’t limit my capacity because of my gender and age.
This year, I am in the second year of the program. I will keep doing my best to create an environment where everybody feels valued, seen, and heard regardless of gender, nationality, and age.
Susanne Pulverer - Equality is our forever foundation
Acknowledging diversity is a human right, and inclusion among co-workers is essential for business, development and innovation
I believe in nurturing a culture that respects equality, diversity, and inclusion while eradicating prejudice, gender-based stereotyping and individual discrimination.
At IKEA, we are committed to fostering an environment where gender equality is upheld and truly practised. Business objectives, possibilities for progress, and definitions are based on one’s ability rather than on gender.
In India, we have a non-negotiable goal of achieving 50% gender equality throughout our organization, in all teams and on all levels. Acknowledging diversity is a human right and inclusion among co-workers is essential for business, development and innovation. IKEA aspires to provide a workplace where employees feel respected for their individuality and with this approach, we aim to inspire others across sectors as well.
Carl Aaby - Doing the right thing
I’ve had more female managers in my 17-year IKEA career than male
I’ve always felt that diversity and inclusion is who we fundamentally are at IKEA. We believe in people based on who they are and their capabilities and ambitions. I have had many opportunities at IKEA and tried to give other people opportunities based on this outlook. I have been inspired by many role models and allies, and I had more female managers in my 17-year IKEA career than male.
We should celebrate what we have achieved on the gender topic and not take success for granted. We need to work consciously with the topic area to keep reminding people of the benefits of gender balance. We don’t see many other companies with this sort of balance; it really is special. But we can stretch ourselves to the next level now and, for example, take in other identity aspects.
Diversity is the right thing to do. It’s good for co-workers, business and it is by far the most fun way to work. Who wants to be surrounded by a group of people just like themselves, who think and act the same way? That’s just boring!
Magdalena Krokowska-Wicherek - Value is not about the money
Salary has no gender. Addressing the gaps is the first step to transformation
In my professional career, I have had the opportunity to work in various countries and perform various roles. I know that approaches to gender equality change and evolve regardless of geography or culture. It is a slow process, but increasingly visible. Still, women earn less than men for the same work.
As an area manager, in my work I come into contact with regions of the country that differ from each other in social or economic terms. This local color can be seen in how individual units are run, what distinguishes them from the market, but also what challenges they accompany. I’m glad equal pay isn’t one of them, and pay at IKEA is genderless.
As a manager, a leader, but also a mother, I am glad that we want to be a catalyst for change in society at IKEA and inspire other companies to act setting a positive example on the market. Our culture and values have provided us with a clear direction and a standpoint we take as a company and as leaders also in gender equality. In our country, where the adjusted wage gap reaches a dozen or so percent, it is important to speak loudly about the fact that there is a different way and to set an example for others. If there is no wage gap at IKEA, what prevents it from being so in the entire Polish business community?
Cindy Andersen - Stay true to your amazing self
Great leadership does not come in one form or one shape
For Ingka Centres, equality, diversity and inclusion are a top priority throughout our organisation. For us, true gender equality does not end with equal pay or a 50/50 balance. We are committed to creating an inclusive culture where everyone is valued for their unique contributions as individuals.
One way for me to both define my leadership and to have the courage to stay true to my values has been by surrounding myself with many role models who have inspired me to be a better version of myself, to stay courageous and sometimes also to guide me back when I naturally have lost myself on the journey.
If there´s one piece of advice I could share with women today it would be: Define the kind of leader you want to be and commit to stay true to your authentic-amazing self. Great leadership does not come in one form or one shape.
Try asking yourself:
What is your inner voice telling you? What is your set of values and leadership? Who are your role models and allies that support you?
And even more important, who are you a role model and ally for?
Laeticia Loegel - Just be yourself
At IKEA being a woman doesn’t change a thing
IKEA offers the opportunity to explore professions and constantly evolve, and with great simplicity. In 17 years, I have been able to easily discuss my ambitions for evolution, my needs to explore new directions. I have never been asked if I had children or if I planned to have them… being a woman doesn’t change a thing.
Since becoming deputy market manager, I want to remain accessible for my teams. I take care to ensure that everyone can come and discuss with me. It’s important for me to try to understand all points of view, to put myself in other people’s shoes to overcome differences.
I want to show that we can remain ourselves, that we do not need to adopt the standard norms in companies to succeed. I hope it can inspire other people and show them that everyone can achieve great things.
About Ingka Group
With IKEA retail operations on 31 markets, Ingka Group is the largest IKEA retailer and represents about 90% of IKEA retail sales. It is a strategic partner to develop and innovate the IKEA business and help define common IKEA strategies. Ingka Group owns and operates IKEA sales channels under franchise agreements with Inter IKEA Systems B.V. It has three business areas: IKEA Retail, Ingka Investments and Ingka Centres. Read more on Ingka.com.