Supporting women in South Africa

Strengthening diversity and inclusion is one of the nine priority areas ABB has identified in its human resources People Strategy for 2020. ABB is well represented around the globe with employees from more than 140 nations but ABB recognizes that more has to be done to increase diversity.

The focus is mainly on attracting, developing and retaining women and increasing the number of women in senior positions within the company. Surveys have shown a more balanced workforce strengthens business performance.

There are initiatives under way in a number of countries. In South Africa, for example, ABB launched a 5-year diversity plan in 2014 setting employment targets for black people, women and people with disabilities at every level of the company. The plan is in line with the Department of Labour’s requirements, and is based on two national laws – the Employment Equity Act and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act - which are intended to address historic employment imbalances.

One of the measures introduced is a new retention strategy which is being implemented in 2015. Another effort under way saw the establishment of an Education Trust at the end of 2014 to contribute to the development of women engineers. The first beneficiaries are being identified in 2015.

At least five women students – in electrical and mechanical engineering, as well as finance – will benefit from the scheme. There will be no obligation for the students to work for ABB, but exposure and opportunities at ABB will be provided to them.

The level of interest in a career at ABB in South Africa is high. There were several thousand online applications for jobs in 2014, about 20 percent of which were from women. Most of the applications came from South Africa but there were also some applications from other countries in Africa and India.

The initiative is one of many currently under way at a corporate and national level. While the current focus is mainly on increasing the number of women in ABB and the promotion of high-potential women, efforts are ongoing in other countries to include more people from minority cultures and people with disabilities in the company.