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At Miele X, diversity and inclusion is at the very heart of our business. When representing a global brand like Miele, it’s vital that our organisation reflects the different markets we operate in and the customers that we support. As part of Miele X’s first ‘Diversity and Inclusion Week’, we felt it was the perfect time to take a deep dive into this topic. We spoke to Tanja Antonijevic, our Head of HR, about the importance of diversity and inclusion in shaping a dynamic, modern business.
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive culture
Tanja has been working in the HR industry for more than 20 years, predominantly in the renewable energy sector, with international organisations like Swedish firm, Vattenfall. She joined Miele X in September 2020, to establish and head up our HR department. Born and raised in Amsterdam, with roots in the Balkans, Tanja has always appreciated the benefits of a diverse society. “I was brought up bilingually,” she tells us, “and I’ve always enjoyed having that mix of different cultures in my background, which I think really enriches you as a person.”
At Miele X, Tanja found a great fit - a business that understands the positive impact being a diverse business can bring. She explains, “We’re proud to have almost 40 nationalities at our company, as well as gender-balanced teams across the business. It’s a powerful mix, creating a dynamic environment in which we’re constantly listening, learning and growing together.”
Diversity and inclusion at Miele X
Tanja recognises that cultivating a diverse workforce is vital to Miele’s ongoing success. “While Miele is an instantly recognised brand, we are always looking to grow,” she says. “To do this, we need to bring in unique approaches and perspectives. We see real value in the fact that our people come from many different backgrounds, industries and countries.”
Each employee brings their own individual skills and experiences to the table, collaborating and sharing ideas for the good of the company. “We challenge each other to be better,” says Tanja, “to move quicker and see past certain beliefs or ideas that are embedded in our native cultures. By working together in this way, we are literally unlocking a world of opportunities, which is crucial if we want to be leaders in digital innovation.”
Why it’s so important to embrace diversity
Tanja believes diversity in the workplace is key. From a purely economic perspective, diverse organisations tend to perform better in the marketplace.
As Tanja explains, “There are numerous examples that demonstrate the positive impact that ethnic, cultural and gender diversity has on a business’s success. It’s clear that diverse organisations outperform their rivals. To be successful and move forward, we simply can’t ignore these findings.”
Then there’s the human factor. At Miele X, we understand that people are the driving force behind any thriving business, and facilitating a happy, healthy culture is one of Tanja’s top priorities.
“Employee satisfaction is something that’s very close to my heart,” she says. “Our employees spend the most productive hours of their day working, so it’s important that they’re happy and satisfied with their working environment. We know that D&I really matters to our employees as they often cite it as one of the top reasons why they enjoy working at Miele X. So, of course, we’re passionate about nurturing this type of culture.”
Creating a sense of belonging
It’s one thing to recognise the benefits of D&I, but how do you bring people together from such a variety of different backgrounds and create a harmonious working environment? Tanja believes that building trust and instilling a strong team ethic can help to engender a collaborative, supportive culture.
“It's all about creating opportunities for our people to connect and share their stories,” she explains. “For example, every month a different department at Miele X organises company drinks, which is a great way to meet up, have fun and celebrate our most recent successes. On top of that, every quarter we organise a larger, themed company event. This spring we did a clean-up of Zandvoort beach in the Netherlands, where our volunteers collected 60kg of trash in just 90 minutes. Afterwards, we relaxed, socialised, had a meal and enjoyed some music and dancing.”
Supporting colleagues from different backgrounds
With such a diverse culture, it’s important to be sensitive to people’s specific wants and needs. Tanja approaches every individual with an open mind. There’s no set script and every case is different.
“From the moment we recruit our colleagues, we try to listen to their needs and see how we can meet them,” she says. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution here, rather an ongoing conversation between the employee, HR and their manager.”
For Tanja, it’s all about putting the right incentives and support mechanisms in place to get the very best out of our colleagues. As she recalls, “We recently introduced a ‘work from abroad’ policy to support colleagues who want to spend more time working from their home countries during the summer holidays for a set period of time. We’ve noticed that this has a positive impact on their wellbeing, creating a happier, healthier work-life balance and a more productive workforce.”
Celebrating Miele’s Diversity and Inclusion week
So how is Miele X planning to get involved in Miele’s Diversity and Inclusion week? “There’s going to be a number of different D&I events across the week,” Tanja says. “Here at Miele X, we’re organising an outdoor event that allows our colleagues to take part in an exercise focusing on the harmful effects of cultural stereotypes.”
Tanja tells us they’ll also be a professional mediator on hand, to give advice on how to be more culturally inclusive, and afterwards, a company picnic. “I’m sure that this week will inspire us all and help us connect in new ways,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to it!”
The future of diversity and inclusion at Miele X
Miele X is a young organisation, with plenty of room for growth. As Tanja explains, we have a number of exciting initiatives on the horizon. “We’re very much looking forward to moving into our new office space at the Valley in Amsterdam, which we want to make inclusive in different ways, such as offering a meditation room and creating a fully equipped kitchen that can support different types of cooking from all over the world.”
Recruitment has always been a key aspect of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and it’s something Tanja is particularly passionate about. “Moving forward, I know we can diversify our workforce even more,” she says. “Our recruiters will keep on searching for people with different profiles that can enrich our team with their unique skills, perspectives and experiences.”
And beyond the business? “We’re also looking at supporting local events like the Amsterdam pride,” Tanja says, “to create more space for our colleagues to express themselves and live their best lives.”
What’s Next? You decide.
At Miele X, we’re proud to employ people from all over the world from a variety of different backgrounds. We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to support diversity and foster a culture of respect and equality, where everybody has a voice. Take a look at our current vacancies.