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Interview: “Successful women in a company attract more talented women”

Silke Jensen manages the German HR department at Fidelity International in Kronberg near Frankfurt, and she is a member of the German management team. Fidelity International currently has a special focus on Diversity & Inclusion, especially with regard to female employees. Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski talks to Silke Jensen about Fidelity’s efforts to recruit and retain more women in their workforce.

Silke, at Fidelity International, you are seeking to have mixed teams. What purpose do you pursue with your diversity goal?
Employees are more involved, and work is more fun for everyone. This is also confirmed by international studies, e.g. from the London Business School and McKinsey. They show for example, that mixed teams perform better than homogenous ones. They outperform by 4.2%. Diversity is achieved when a) the teams are mixed by gender, age, nationality, occupational groups, and so on, and second, when b) the corporate culture is appropriate. Only then diversity can unfold. The interaction between the corporate culture and the composition of the teams is important.

What does that mean for you: “diversity can unfold”?
We do not only focus on gender or on women. Overall, we try to create an environment in which all people with their different professional and personal backgrounds can develop well. On the one hand, we hope for more innovation in the company when different perspectives come together to develop ideas or find the best solution. And on the other hand, our customers are divers. That’s why with diverse teams, we can better capture and serve our customers’ needs. Ultimately, this increases our attractiveness in the market.

How about the diversity at Fidelity International in Germany, especially on the management floor?
In the German management team we have 12 members, including 6 women. But we would like to win even more women in sales, where only about one fifth of our workforce is female. And also in our IT department, there is still room for improvement.

In your opinion, what does it do for the workforce when more women are in management positions?
It is changing the overall corporate culture towards more diversity. And it really motivates women when they see: I can make it here to the very top and the company is supporting that as well. Successful women in a company attract more talented women. Look, Anne Richards is leading our global business as CEO. Or Annika Milz, who is managing the institutional business here in Kronberg, even in a part-time position. These are signals that women perceive quite well.

What are you doing at Fidelity to recruit more female employees?
Most importantly, there is the commitment of the management globally and locally that diversity is important and good. We also show this by supporting the Fondsfrauen. This year at Fidelity, every employee is challenged to think about how he / she can contribute to Diversity & Inclusion. For this purpose, diversity was anchored in the employee objectives and is relevant to bonus arrangements. One goal, for example, is that 30% of the management positions should be held by women. Along this way, we have made good progress.

With which specific measures have you accomplished this?
For recruiting, the explicit goal is to set up mixed candidate lists. Also the interview groups that are involved in the recruitment decision are mixed (men / women, different disciplines). At Fidelity International, promotions are discussed within the management team, not just by the direct supervisors. This automatically causes a kind of “Checks & Balances”. And it increases the acceptance among our employees.

What do you do after the recruitment, to keep especially the female employees in the company?
We show role models for women and provide the framework for women to network and support each other, e.g. at Fidelity for Everyone, our global network for diversity & inclusion. This is that we promote initiative. We have clear expectations of our executives and look at the “hard facts” of fairness, such as promotions, salary / bonus – this, of course, applies to all employees. At the same time we offer support, e.g. through mentoring and trainings. We also strive to improve the working environment of all our employees. This includes mentoring, training, and flexible working. Our employees have the opportunity to work flexibly and develop their careers, which today is not only important to many women, but also to men. We assume that our employees will be able to better implement their various talents in a better environment – and we will continue to work on this in the future.

Thank you for these interesting insights!

Silke Jensen is a member of the German management team at Fidelity International and heads the HR department in Kronberg near Frankfurt.

Photo: Fidelity International

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