During the course of the last year, IKEA made their functional and quality products available to Serbian citizens by opening their first shopping centre in Belgrade. About first impressions, future plans, collaboration with AFA association and of course, gender equality in the workplace, we spoke with Maja Vujašković Đureinović, Corporate Public Relations & Public Affairs Manager, IKEA South East Europe.

After several years of presence on the regional markets, during the 2017 you engaged into Serbian market as well, what are your impressions so far?

Impressions are fantastic! Our products, designed to provide the customers with the combination of quality, comfort, form, function, good price and manufactured with the respect of our sustainability principle, have found their ways into many homes. And our loyalty club- IKEA Family, exceeded 100.000 members.

On every market and every level inside the company, IKEA advocates gender equality, as well as equality on religious, national and race basis. How do you execute gender equality?

As a humanistic company with a belief that everybody has a right to be treated the same and to be given the same opportunities, regardless of the gender or any other aspect of their identity, IKEA Serbia formed proactive attitude towards providing inclusive working environment in which all of our coworkers are given the same chances for career development and they are equally evaluated for their contribution in a workplace.

Before anything else, we support gender equality inside the IKEA organization. And together with our employees we are raising the awareness about this crucial subject. In hand with global politics, we are focusing on providing equal possibilities for employment and promotion, equal participation of women on a management positions and equal wages for the same amount of work. We are proud of our collaboration with EcoBag, company that hires women older than 45, who belong to the group of workers affected by transition.

Using the example of your company, how the implementation of the gender equality have changed your workplace?

By creating the inclusive environment, in which all our employees feel free to be what they are, we are affecting their motivation, satisfaction with the workplace and we are improving their productivity. Equality is good for them, as individuals, but it is also good for our company, and for our customers, who are as well very diverse, and for the society in general. For us, inclusion and equality are not “expenses” on the contrary, they are investments that are paying off in many ways, because diverse teams have better results, they are more creative, more productive and more satisfied with their workplace. When individuals are given the same opportunity to develop, regardless of the gender, or their native environment, everybody wins.

For the International Women’s Day, you are planning the event to promote gender equality and to present the benefits of it. Can you tell us something more about that event?

Even though gender equality is not a one- day issue, we decided to use the symbolism of the 8th of March, and to organize this event with the help of our partners, AFA association and Committee for Gender Equality. Together with the other companies and the Embassy of Sweden, we will share good experiences and discus the ways of collaboration between private sector and government institutions in joint effort of improving gender equality in our society.

This forum is a part of a bigger campaign that will be organized in Croatia and Romania as well. The events in all of the three countries will be supported by the communications inside of the shopping centers and on the streets of Belgrade, Zagreb and Bucharest. International Women’s Day Celebration is just the beginning for IKEA, and we consider it as a potential for further networking with relevant, interested partners, with whom we will influence the improving of the gender equality in the society for the years to come.

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