D&I forms part of our people strategy and is very much engrained in our culture. We have 12 different nationalities working in our head office and a balanced gender and age diversity within each of our functions. This dynamic brings a rich and diverse perspective which we believe enables the success of our business.
This month, it’s the turn of Sirocco – a joint venture between Heineken and Emirates Group based here in Dubai. We catch up with HR Manager, Michelle Rice:
WEPs UAE: Hello Michelle, please introduce yourself and your role at Sirocco.
Michelle: Hello, I’m a happily married mother of two girls and have lived in Dubai for nearly 13 years which has absolutely flown by! In my role as HR Manager I oversee 70 people working for Sirocco which is a joint venture between Heineken and the Emirates Group.
W: What is your career background – what brought you to this role?
M: My background is in retail, customer service and sales. I guess I can thank a rainy Monday morning in London for bringing me to Dubai. I was working for a well-known estate agent in London and was presented with the opportunity to move. At the time the property industry was booming in Dubai but highly unregulated and it was during this time that I realised that I am passionate about people and creating the right environment in which people can thrive.
W: What measures does your company have in place to help with gender balance/D&I in the region?
M: D&I forms part of our people strategy and is very much engrained in our culture. We have 12 different nationalities working in our head office and a balanced gender and age diversity within each of our functions. This dynamic brings a rich and diverse perspective which we believe enables the success of our business. We measure the success of D&I through talent management and through employee satisfaction surveys but for me it’s about having a united management team acting as role models who are passionate about D&I.
W: What do you feel these policies have achieved and how have they helped women at Sirocco?
M: There have been many successes over the years. Our approach to talent management is leader led. We have numerous examples of our leaders unlocking talent and coaching people to succeed in their roles, we have achieved record scores in our employee satisfaction survey. A recent experience that resonated with me was a new colleague thanking me for providing a ‘safe’ environment, which has in turn given them the confidence to speak up and share their opinion. This is something they had never experienced with other organisations. Creating a fearless environment helps people flourish and grow and it’s this sort of feedback that makes me get up in the morning.
W: What is the representation of women like at senior levels in your teams and how do you encourage retention/post-maternity return?
M: 45% of our leaders are women of which 60% are parents. As a working mum myself I can relate to the constant juggle of finding a work-life balance and this is also recognised and supported by my male colleagues. We have to be accommodating if there’s a school play, a school pick or a medical situation as these generally don’t fit around working hours. By providing this flexibility we find our retention rate remains high and our people display high levels of integrity, we recognise that it can be quite daunting returning to work after maternity leave and wherever possible, we encourage a phased return to work where we build up working hours over a period of time so that new mums can get used to the working environment again.
W: Why is D&I important right now?
M: D&I has been important to us for a number of years now, it’s not just about embracing women in the workplace, it’s about embracing different cultures, age and gender diversity – we recently celebrated international women’s day but let’s not forget international men’s day later on in the year because it’s about maintaining the balance in a sustainable way. We also need to consider different personality types and ensure that everyone gets a fair voice and is given an opportunity to shine.
W: And finally, is there more you’d like to bring to the conversation?
M: I believe that happy, engaged people are more motivated to work and are much more likely to go the extra mile, they are more confident and innovative which results in improved business performance.
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