Vodafone Hungary says it has chosen to raise awareness of the importance of women’s equality with an unconventional action: to mark International Womenʼs Day (March 8), it has temporarily replaced its corporate logo, which the company says has a global brand value of more than USD 20 billion, on its Budapest HQ.
Worldwide, more than 38,000 women work at Vodafone; the global goal for the service provider is to become the best employer for women by 2025.
In recent years, the service provider has launched a number of programs in order to meet this aim, but it is highly unusual for a corporate brand to alter its logo for social awareness matters.
According to Grant Thorntonʼs 2017 study “Women in Business,” only 26% of senior executives in the European Union are women and in 36% of businesses there are no women in management at all, Vodafone says.
Although these tendencies are changing, the proportion of women is still much lower in managerial positions. Vodafone Hungary says it is a pioneer in this area, since half of the eight-member management team, including the CEO, are women, which is well above the average domestically, especially for a technology company.
In the ICT sector, there are more men than the average; according to EU data, only 17% of those working in the field are women, with just 19% in senior positions.
One of Vodafoneʼs short-term goals is to have at least 30% women in its middle management positions on a global scale. One major obstacle to this is the fact that women interrupt their careers to start a family, and returning to work can be a challenge.
The biggest difficulty is the lack of flexible working hours and the right training. The Vodafone ReConnect program, launched in Hungary in 2017, offers a solution to this problem. It aims to reintegrate into the world of work (mostly women) employees who already have managerial experience or have the potential for it, but whose career has been interrupted for many years, typically due to childbirth or time spent in a private or family business.
With the help of training and other introductory programs, they help to refresh and develop the professional knowledge and skills of candidates. ReConnect also allows flexible or part-time work during the initial return to the company.
One of the most recent changes is that from January 1, Vodafone Hungary employees on long-term leave (typically new mothers taking maternity leave) can keep their free-of-charge employee subscription and mobile phone for two years.
“The identity of a company is determined by its core values. At Vodafone, we take this very seriously; we fight inequalities in all areas and support diversity,” explains Amanda Nelson, CEO of Vodafone Hungary. “For example, the integration of new mothers and colleagues returning after a longer career break is of utmost importance. Our global goal is to become the best employer for women; we believe that diversity is one of the most important elements of business success, that is to say, to examine a particular problem from as many aspects as possible.”
Nelson stresses that, importantly, such initiatives do not repesent negative discrimination against men.
“Both the ReConnect program and the support of colleagues in need of long-term leave are equally applicable to men and women. Accordingly, we should not forget fathers either; at the birth of their child they are entitled to a two-week paid paternity leave, which means they can spend an additional five days on top of the five days prescribed by law in Hungary,” Nelson adds.
During the first week of March, the amended logo is being displayed on the Danube side of the Vodafone Hungary headquarters building in Budapest.