It’s no longer a secret that diverse teams perform better than homogeneous teams. A1 Group has long known that diversity is an essential element of success and thus signed the “Charter of Diversity” already in 2014. But what does this really mean? Where are we satisfied, where do we have room for improvement and how to we scale the mountains of diversity?

With its combined annual report, the A1 Group documents its goal to reach 38% of female employees by the end of 2018. One this is clear: we do not have equal success everywhere. While the cluster Serbia/Slovenia is taking a leading position with female power, A1 Austria is still looking for appropriate measures to establish diversity within corporate culture.

We interviewed the women in the Leadership Team for the Serbia / Slovenia cluster, Larisa Grizilo (Senior Director People & Communications), Branka Pudrlja-Durbaba (Senior Market director and CMO) and Natali Delic (CTO and Senior Transformation Director) and asked them how diversity is rooted in their company, how it can move mountains and what a perfect future at A1 looks like.

 

How important is diversity for you and your team?

»Diversity makes my work easier and more beautiful.«

Natali:
We live in the digital age, where everything is about the customer. They are different people with different needs, different sensibility and different experiences. As a service provider, we want to address all these different nuances. Diversity helps us understand our customers better.

Branka:
Currently within Vip mobile I am responsible for the most numerous sectors of the company: Market, Sales & Customer Service. I often remind the leaders in my sector that we are “different people who take care and lead different people”. The essence of success is teamwork.


»It is crucial that all employees bring the best of themselves to the table. This is the beauty of diversity and makes us better and better every day.«


»Embracing diversity as a manager means giving each other the space to grow.«

Larisa:
The most important reason why I wanted to join our company a few years ago, was team diversity I noticed in office corridors – not just the most obvious gender diversity, but also age and culture. In our cluster, I feel we genuinely embrace diversity. I honestly believe the more diverse the group, the greater the potential to do something amazing.

How are the reactions of your male leadership team colleagues towards you?

 

Natali:
Diversity is not about gender, it is about knowledge, experience and individual value.

Branka:
They deal awesome with us, and that is why we all win and cooperate as one team with strength of our diversity.

Larisa:
All of them have previous great experience with working in gender-balanced teams, so I believe it comes naturally to them. This is why working together brings such success.

Brave, openhearted and successful – a diverse example from Serbia

The “Brave heart” initiative in Vip mobile was founded in 2016 to reposition the brand on the market. This was the only goal and no further instructions from our leadership team except to be bold. How? The project team created a cross-functional team made of male and female, juniors and seniors, with different competences from various units with all sorts of different knowledge and experience. Did it work out? Better than expected double-digit EBITDA growth in two years in a row, market share and ARPU increase in a mature Telco market. Natali is convinced: What, if not the diversity in this team, can take responsibility for their success?

Dejan

Signposts are authenticity and a great role model

All three women agree on the importance on being yourself in professional life and the commitment to give one’s best to be successful at work. Diversity comes to life when leaders embody it, like Dejan Turk, CEO of the Cluster Serbia / Slovenia does. He does not glorify women in his cluster, but describes them like this:

How does diversity look like in a perfect A1 Group?

Natali is heading for a female share of at least 30% in leadership teams and group directors’ functions throughout A1 Group, and to be paid equally for the same job they are doing. Branka suggests sharing best practice from the cluster Serbia / Slovenia :-) Larisa would like to see our company not only excel in gender diversity, but have even more inclusivity for multi-cultural, disabled and LGBT employees.

Further, the Austrian women’s network questioned how to position A1 as a diverse and inclusive company – and what measures it needs to make it happen. They addressed the creativity of Austrian employees and even tried a new format – the first diversity hackathon. Curious about the outcome? Have a look at the video.

So, which way leads to diversity?

According to Natali, Branka, Larisa: Genuinely embrace and actively seek diversity! You’ll be surprised about the results!