Bias and discrimination on the grounds of age are commonplace and harmful, both for individuals concerned and for society as a whole. Often, the problem is not acknowledged – many companies do not include generations in their diversity and inclusion policies – and nor are the advantages of generational diversity recognized.
ABB has a deep-rooted commitment to diversity and inclusion which is central to the company’s 2030 sustainability strategy and its focus on social progress. In line with ABB’s purpose and values, the company is committed to create a more diverse and inclusive working environment in which people feel respected and valued, and where everyone can succeed and develop.
ABB recognizes that diversity of generations also means diversity of skills, experience and thought. As a step to bringing special emphasis on the topic, ABB’s Chief of Human Resources, Carolina Granat, has been appointed the new Executive Committee sponsor for generations at ABB, which is a key focus of the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy, along with gender, LGBTQ+, abilities and ethnicity.
Granat explains, “Generational diversity brings together the experience, energy, curiosity and ambition of people of different ages. What motivates each of the generations at work, how they approach topics like work-life balance or career development vary from generation to generation, and this is something that employers need to keep in mind.
“Successful companies are finding ways to exchange experiences and learn skills in both directions. Inclusion means everyone, and it take all of us to succeed.”
ABB hosts several generations under one roof — Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Each generation grew up in a radically different time, which shapes how they see the world, how they interact, what values they have and how they see the purpose of their work. A breakdown of the generations making up ABB’s workforce looks like this: 41 percent are Millennials, 36 percent are Generation X and 15 percent are Baby Boomers. Just over 50 percent of ABB employees are over the age of 41.
Steps being taken by ABB to bridge gaps between generations includes unconscious bias awareness training for managers. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that focus on the specific needs and challenges of different generations are also found within the company. For example, an ERG for Young Professionals whose mission is to build a network of early and mid-career talent that unites colleagues, builds capabilities and accelerates career development and ABB’s position as an industry leader. Insights from these groups are critical to understand the company’s strengths and areas of opportunities.
Additionally, a pilot mutual mentorship program is currently in place in the company’s offices in Sweden, connecting a young person who has recently joined ABB with a senior professional who has been with ABB for many years, to share experiences and bridges of understanding on a range of different topics.
ABB is educating its employees to be inclusive of the opinions/feedback from all generations at the workplace, to involve colleagues from various generations to provide feedback and food-for-thought to find solutions to challenges, to learn a new skill from a colleague from another generation, and to acknowledge and recognize unconscious biases related to age. From these steps comes the understanding that everyone contributes to a better solution for their teams and the company.