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Female leaders in the CLS community

1 March 2021

To celebrate gender equality in light of International Women’s Day on March 8th, CLS has connected with some of the inspirational women in our community about gender equality and being a female leader. In this article, we meet Sofia Correia de Barros, Rute Diniz, Helen Duphorn and Teresa Pala Schwalbach.

Sofia Correia de Barros, Country Manager Director, Diaverum Portugal

Sofia Correia de Barros, Country Managing Director, Diaverum Portugal.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and does your company celebrate it in any specific way or highlight gender equality during this time of the year?

Gender equality is a priority for Diaverum and it has always been present in the company's DNA. In Portugal the majority of employees are women, with a significant percentage in the middle and top management (52% and 60% respectively). We promote a good work / family balance, making dynamic and flexible work contexts available to workers. Our internal and external recruitments do not differentiate between men and women. We have an annual Social Responsibility initiative that delivers maternity baskets to future mothers and fathers. Diversity and Inclusion are embedded in our culture. Diaverum believes that heterogeneous teams with different points of view promote richer outcomes ensuring our readiness to face today's great challenges.

How do you in your everyday work as a leader, promote the equality between men and women and make sure you lead by example?

At Diaverum we believe in inspiring competent and passionate leaderships that bring out the best of each person, both on a professional and personal point of view. Leading by example with no discrimination or appreciation of gender, race or religion.

Rute Diniz, People Manager, Ericsson Portugal

Rute Diniz, People Manager Portugal, Ericsson

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day means a reflection day. It is a day when I reflect upon all the progress done and on what remains to be accomplished regarding gender equality. It is also a day when I remind myself of all the brave women that had the courage and perseverance, despite difficult circumstances, to make history in women rights’ progress both in cultural, social, economic and political angles. Therefore, it is normally an inspiring day which drives my purpose and actions along the year when it comes to gender equality matters.

How do you in your everyday work as leader, promote the equality between men and women and make sure you lead by example?

Ericsson has the commitment to reach 30% of women at all levels in the company which is an extremely relevant target in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. We ensure that processes such as Talent Acquisition, Individual Performance Management, Career Development and Succession Planning between others have a balanced gender distribution. As well, at Ericsson Portugal there is a very high commitment towards equality expressed by the promotion of initiatives and participation on International Day of Girls in ICT/Science, Engineers for One Day Program, as well as many others from Portuguese Association for Diversity and Inclusion, being awarded a Diversity Seal from this Association. On a personal note, I ensure that on my everyday job, within meetings and interactions, I secure equal opportunities of participation and collaboration and also I promote an atmosphere of full respect as a base ground for equality.

Helen Duphorn, Country Retail Manager & CSO, IKEA Portugal

Helen Duphorn, Country Retail Manager, IKEA Portugal

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and does your company celebrate it in any specific way or highlight gender equality during this time of the year?

It’s a day for celebration of women, and all that we have achieved so far. But it is also a day when we focus on the giant changes that still need to take place, to create equal rights for men and women across the world. At IKEA we do both the celebration and planning for the next steps together, women and men. I feel fortunate to work for a progressive brand, surrounded by colleagues who share the same humanistic values.

Women have always been important in shaping IKEA, and we use International Women's Day to create awareness of the importance of securing equal rights and opportunities for women and men. We collaborate with others and have signed the UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) to motivate our co-workers, increase transparency and inspire other companies to move the gender topic.

How do you in your everyday work as leader, promote the equality between men and women and make sure you lead by example?

I have always worked for gender equality. Leading management teams in different parts of our business across the IKEA world, I always strived for a balance between men and women, and obviously we pay equally for same work. I have also always mentored large numbers of women within our company, and feel very proud to see many of them make fantastic careers in IKEA worldwide. At work, I do my best to secure that it is possible for my colleagues to have a decent work-life balance.

Teresa Pala Scwalbach - Servulo & Associados

Teresa Pala Schwalbach, Partner at Sérvulo & Associados and Board Member of CLS

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and does your company celebrate it in any specific way or highlight gender equality during this time of the year?

I will be happy on the day we don’t need an International Day because it will mean we have achieved full equality. Until that happens, it serves the purpose of keeping, in the international community’s mind, that gender equality is not yet a reality and bias towards women exists. SÉRVULO is committed to gender equality in its daily routines and does not celebrate it in a specific moment in time. We celebrate it every single time we look at our people’s merit and not their gender. For instance, we have promoted women to partners, myself included, in years in which we enjoyed our maternity leave and, thus did not work a full year. 

How do you in your everyday work as a leader, promote the equality between men and women and make sure you lead by example?

My team is composed by both men and women but I never consider this factor when assigning tasks. I distribute the work evenly depending on each team member’s volume of work at each moment, the complexity of the work and each person’s expertise in the matter at stake. I try to integrate them in all stages of a project and not just asking one isolated task from them why I cannot can demotivated. By accompanying the whole project, they have a bigger visibility on the project and their role in the same. Simultaneously, being present in all steps of the process – even when they’re not assigned a specific task – they get to learn about other tasks we have to perform. Finally, I always try to provide them feedback after each work on what went good or “bad”. Of course, I prefer to give positive feedback but explaining what can be improved is important to help them grow as professionals.

We are proud to have these leaders and many more in our community. These four leaders who have shared their reality with us today, and the companies that they represent all emphasize the importance of incorporating gender equality and inclusion in the operations, and recognize that International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the progress that has been made and to shed light on future advancements that must be made in order for gender equality to be universally achieved.


How can CLS better contribute to equality in throughout our community and beyond? 

CLS is also glad to have receieved a number of good suggestions on what we can do to improve to promote equality throughout our community. Among many interesting and valuable actions, we will bring forward following suggestions: 

  • start or make visible more initiatives to talk about equality in a more open and transparent way to engage other leaders to join the movement and to address the issue,
  • organize future discussions, activities and events for sharing positive experiences and create synergies between Swedish and Portuguese companies in regard to equality,
  • continuously support in networking and reaching our to external entities (universities or others) who can support with data and backgroun studies

And, finally, we will always support our community as per its need, wheter in equality or other highlighted topics for our strategy - such as sustainability and innovation.  

Contributing equality brands in our community

Diaverum Portugal
Ericsson Portugal
IKEA Portugal
Servulo & Associados
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