Each year, International Women’s Day recognizes the unique contributions of women to the global community. This day encourages us to consider how a balanced perspective can help create a better world.
Milliken understands the value that inclusiveness brings to our company. As we join the International Women’s Day celebrations, we reflect on the contributions of women in the global workplace through the voices of four of our associates.
As a woman, what unique perspective do you bring to the workplace?
Stacey Chapman, Performance and Protective Textiles Yarn Manufacturing Manager: I find women bring a fresh approach to systematic problem solving.
Mary Mason, Research & Development: Women listen with both their eyes and ears, leading them to draw insightful conclusions that shed light on new and different viewpoints.
Emily Michaels, Research Manager: As a woman, mother and scientist, I have a unique approach to problem solving that I share with my team daily. My team is tasked with developing new technology platforms for Milliken — a challenging but important task for future growth. This type of work requires a lot of preparation and patience, as experiments and trials don’t always
go the way you expect or desire. Being able to quickly adjust
course is critical, but I enjoy the creativity these opportunities present. Juggling all three roles I play daily requires organization, communication and a lot of on-the-fly thinking — being able to multitask is a must!
Veerle De Wolf, Milliken Chemical Marketing & Communications for Europe, Middle East & Africa: When it comes to sensitivity and intuition, women tend to excel. Our emotional intelligence helps to create a well-rounded workforce. Where some may have difficulties understanding one’s unspoken words or emotion, women can often decode body language more readily, allowing us to be very effective problem solvers.
What do organizations globally stand to gain from promoting gender balance acrossfunctionalities and positions?
SC: Gender balance directly contributes to our ability to keep a team engaged, as well as ensure we have a solid team readily available to implement the tasks ahead.
MM: A more representative organization fosters greater respect and attention. Such companies also reach a wider audience since they are naturally positioned towards inclusion.
EM: I truly believe all organizations stand to make great gains if they continue to promote gender balance in their workplace. Just think about the diversity of the approaches we will see if we continue to bring people of varied backgrounds together. It is exciting to think about the potential! In research, one of the most exciting and engaging times is when we start to brainstorm solutions to an opportunity or market need. It is only by involving the many facets of our business that we create unique and valued solutions for our customers.
VDW:According to research conducted by University of California Berkeley, companies who embrace the distinctive traits of female employees and value gender diversity in their organizations actually see a boost to their bottom line. Women use a more participative leadership style to manage a team. They share information, welcome other points of view and build strong relational skills.
How have you seen diversity — of people, mindset or skillset —enhance Milliken innovation?
SC: Diversity in skillset and experiences invites out-of-the-box thinking, something that directly enables Milliken’s insight within our markets.
MM: Because of critical forethought, Milliken has grown from being known as a textile manufacturer to a diversified industrial manufacturer, and I think the same holds true for our people, too. We have the foresight to recognize the value diversity can bring to our work. Having people from different experiences and backgrounds has helped up to grow and collaborate in pursuit of innovation.
EM: Diversity and innovation absolutely go hand in hand. When you have business leaders, salespeople, scientists and more all in a room asking, “What if…,” you come up with some of the most exciting paths to pursue. This ultimately translates to success for our associates, teams and customers, and creates a tremendously rewarding work environment.
VDW: The Ghent office of the chemical division is a great example of diversity. We work together with people from all over Europe and beyond on a daily basis. This allows us to learn about different cultures in the world and helps us better understand our customers. The diversity creates an open atmosphere where people are interested in learning more about the differences and are very curious, which leads to open discussions and helps us become better in business.