Over the past year, Knauf Insulation has been raising awareness of diversity and inclusion amongst employees.
Raising awareness of diversity and inclusion is an important first step to help encourage positive change.
For Knauf Insulation, this started with working with the Senior Leadership team to provide training and education via an awareness course.
Lisa Flaherty, HR Director for Northern Europe says: “At the end of last year, we designed a diversity and inclusion (D&I) awareness course. We accepted that we were right at the beginning of this journey so the starting point needed to be about building awareness of D&I across the business. We wanted people to come on the journey with us in an authentic way.
“Over the past year we’ve been focusing on defining the content of the leadership programme. We started the pilot sessions with our UK team at the end of 2021 and we’ve started rolling them out to other regions and technical teams this year. As we’ve been rolling them out, we’ve also been refining the training sessions to make sure the content is as impactful as possible.
“Generating awareness and getting leadership buy-in for diversity and inclusion projects is key to success. It’s a long-term cultural change and this needs to come from the top down.”
How has the content of the course been received so far? Lisa explains that for some people, changing their use of language, in particular, can be a source of nerves.
“The course has been received really positively,” she says. “But for some people within the business, it’s a new way of speaking and approaching situations. Employees want to get things right so have been a bit nervous about what language they should be using, questioning ‘Is this the right terminology?’ But we will all make mistakes and we will all learn from them. That’s why the course content also focuses on how to approach a situation if you do mis-step. I think accepting mistakes and encouraging open conversations are crucial skills that will allow us to act as modern leaders.”
When setting goals, progress must be monitored. This is no different for diversity and inclusion, where data is being collated from across the employee lifecycle, including information on appraisals, promotions and more.
Lisa says: “This data will be a starting point for us to use to monitor our future progress. We’d like to report on statistics, such as the number of women being promoted versus the number of men or the diversity of our leaders. We are right at the beginning of our journey still but once we have this data in place, we can build on it. Right now, our priority is awareness and this can be difficult to measure.”
Group HR Talent & Development Manager for EMEA & APAC, Katrien Wakana, says: “For the first time in our Gallup survey, we have added questions on cultural inclusion and the results are positive. People are happy with how inclusive Knauf Insulation is. We’re currently scoring 4.02 out of 5. There is still work to be done but this is a nice place to start. We will use this data to measure our progress, year after year.
“However, while data is helpful, the aim of the work we’re doing isn’t meeting quotas or ticking boxes. It’s about creating a real sense of inclusion and belonging, helping our teams feel connected.”
How we measure up
For the first time, we have measured our cultural inclusion score through our Gallup survey.
Current score – 4.02 out of 5
Opening up the conversation
Key to the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives is creating a continuous conversation between employees, empowering them to share their experiences and information so it can be used in a positive way.
Katrien says: “What I love about Knauf Insulation is that all these conversations about diversity and inclusion are possible. It’s a safe environment to create a dialogue and talk about our experiences. As a woman of colour, I feel very secure talking about my views. It’s possible to do this every day within the company without any issues.
Looking to the future
What’s coming up next for diversity and inclusion within Knauf Insulation?
Lisa says: “The next stage in our plan will be to roll out the awareness programme on a wider level. Our working group keeps growing every time we send a new communication to the business which is really positive.
“We’re looking to roll out individual interest groups, such as Women in Business, Disabled People in Business and all kinds of other groups. All of these groups can then operate as networking teams.”
Our vision for diversity and inclusion
“We embrace diversity and inclusion to welcome, support, grow and inspire our people equally. Connecting to our Knauf values of Entrepreneurship, Commitment, Partnership and Menschlichkeit, we strive to create an enriching experience for all employees For A Better World. Together we achieve more.”
Kristin Barthel, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Putting people first
The diversity and inclusion work within our company falls in line with our sustainability strategy, For A Better World.
By 2025, we have committed to ensuring that all leaders, managers and new employees within the company undergo diversity and inclusion training to equip them with the skills, language and behaviours to encourage inclusion.
We will also continue to develop diversity and inclusion training for employees as part of ongoing education and training.
Embedding D&I within our culture
However, the ultimate aim for diversity and inclusion at Knauf Insulation goes beyond 2025.
Lisa says: “D&I needs to be engrained within our business; it wouldn’t be a major project, it would simply be the way that we operate. We can change as many policies and procedures as we like but if when people walk through the door they don’t feel included then they will leave anyway.
“We want people to feel a real sense of belonging but it shouldn’t have to be something that we actively think about. This will be a challenging process but I know we will get there.
Photo on the left: employees of different cultures work together in the Johor plant, Malaysia