Ferrexpo Ferrexpo
Fe_munity, Ferrexpo

Last year, the company launched an updated Fe_munity program, scaling it nationwide

Implementation of the DEI policy (diversity, equity, inclusion) is not only a trend, but also a need in the modern business environment. Practicing workforce diversity promotes better decision-making and a more productive work environment. Such an approach is increasingly expected from employers not only by employees, but also by other parties, in particular, investors and clients. The case of Ferrexpo, a Swiss iron ore company with assets in Ukraine, is the first in a large Ukrainian business that demonstrates a comprehensive and systematic approach to these issues.

A systematic approach

Ferrexpo has been implementing a 360-degree DEI strategy since 2020, implementing the principles of inclusiveness and gender equality, and thus strengthening business performance. During the three years of its activity, the group managed to achieve significant results.

In order to study its progress, Ferrexpo became the first company in Ukraine to participate in the study of inclusiveness of domestic business. Its indicator was 68.6 out of 100 (satisfactory). This is three points higher than the national average.

During the period of the strategy, the number of women in management positions in Grade 10+ (managerial staff) increased by 60%. In particular, the board of Ferrexpo included a female personnel director, the positions of the director of labor protection and industrial safety and the chief surveyor were filled by women. Four women became drivers of heavy trucks, three became electric gas welders. In total, about 100 employees of the company work in a “non-female” profession.

In addition, 230 men in the company took the HeForShe pledge. HeForShe is a global solidarity movement founded by UN Women.

Currently, women make up about a third of Ferrexpo’s staff, but this number is lower among managers. The company aims to increase the number of women in management positions to 25% by 2030.

Principles of DEI Ferrexpo, GMK Center

The group’s efforts did not go unnoticed in the Ukrainian business community. In 2021, Ferrexpo topped the rating of family-friendly companies among iron and steel enterprises and entered the top ten employers in the country according to the Ukrainian Corporate Equality Index. In addition, the group won in the category “Diversity and Inclusion” of the prestigious HR Pro Awards 2021.

The direction of DEI has become an important part of the group’s business strategy. The company declares a systematic approach in this matter, the introduction of long-term, not one-time projects. As a result, Ferrexpo’s average annual turnover rate has decreased by 2%, productivity has increased by 15%, and employee engagement is at 75%.

Educational modules

As part of its equality and inclusion strategy, the company has introduced a number of powerful educational modules.

In 2021, Ferrexpo founded the Fe_Munity School of Women’s Leadership – an educational platform aimed at obtaining the necessary knowledge and competencies for further professional growth. Fe_Munity Alumna was also created – a community of alumni who are provided with mentoring support.

Last year, the company launched a revamped Fe_munity program, scaling it nationwide. Thus, Ferrexpo gave Ukrainian women the opportunity to improve their skills and experience, to show how they can apply them in the reconstruction of the country and in building its future. As part of the Fe_munity program, 80 company employees and 50 women from different parts of Ukraine received support and knowledge from 25 speakers, personal mentoring from 50 mentors, and a professional self-audit. The training lasted four months, covering various topics – from the actualization of ambitions to the development of a project development strategy and risk management.

According to  Ann-Christine Andersen, Chair of the Health, Safety, Environment and Community Committee (HSEC), Ferrexpo continues its progress in strengthening the culture of diversity, equality and inclusiveness not only in the company, but also in Ukraine.

“Our gender diversity initiative includes women’s leadership programs Fe_muniti – in 2022, the third cohort of future female leaders of our business joined. We also expanded this initiative to the whole of Ukraine to provide opportunities for development to women from different parts of the country,” she said.

Fe_munity graduate, Yulia Nikolayeva, acting head of the Technical Expertise Center notes that, thanks to the strategy DEI, she understood in which direction it should move further in order to continue its development in the company.

“I always dreamed of strengthening my leadership potential, and as soon as the opportunity arose to join the Fe_munity women’s leadership school, I took it. Here I armed myself with important knowledge about how to overcome doubts and destructive stereotypes, about time and risk management, about conflict management and effective communication, as well as learned many other effective tools that ultimately helped me realize myself in a new managerial role. Last year, I even tried myself as a mentor for the participants of the third stream of the school, because I want to pass on the knowledge that I received myself, multiplied by my own experience, in order to accelerate gender changes in society,” she said.

In 2022, Ferrexpo also joined the Progression project, initiated by Biasless together with the After Tomorrow NGO, UNWomen Ukraine and financed by the UN Women’s Fund for Peace and Humanitarian Aid. The company provided grants of UAH 100,000 to five female project authors for the creation of a children’s leadership camp, tailoring of adaptive clothing for people with disabilities, implementation of social projects for female soldiers of the Armed Forces, active women and family members of critical infrastructure workers.

In addition, the Ferrexpo Inclusion School continued to educate participants on the principles of inclusiveness, gender equality and non-discrimination. Since the start of the training project, 100 managers of various levels have been trained within it to become ambassadors of qualitative changes in the company. Last year, 200 company employees, 30 representatives of authorities and communities in which Ferrexpo enterprises operate became graduates of the school.

Be in trend

The group also participates in all-Ukrainian DEI events and has become a trendsetter in many issues.

In 2020 Ferrexpo signed the Declaration for Gender Equality and Prevention of Domestic Violence. A year earlier, it was initiated by the UNFPA representative office in Ukraine, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Center for the Development of Corporate Social Responsibility. Through the declaration, the signatory companies undertook to make maximum efforts in order to introduce gender-sensitive approaches at work by 2025, create conditions for decent work and equal employment, contribute to the prevention of domestic violence, etc.

In 2021, Ferrexpo was one of the first companies in the mining industry to join the global action 16 days against gender-based violence. At the enterprises, the group conducted an appropriate information campaign, thematic training seminars, and an anonymous corporate survey of male and female employees regarding manifestations of violence at the workplace and in the family.

In May 2021, a law came into force in Ukraine that equalized the rights of men and women to maternity leave. At Ferrexpo, the male decree program began to operate even before it was guaranteed at the legislative level. Married couples working at the group’s enterprises were offered salary compensation for wives during the husband’s maternity leave, if his salary is higher. In addition, a men’s club was created, and it was possible to receive the help of a child psychologist and teachers.

In 2022, Ferrexpo signed the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), initiated by the UN Global Compact and UN Women. The WEPs initiative includes 7 principles that promote gender equality, fair treatment of men and women at work, help businesses ensure the health, safety and well-being of all employees, promote the education and professional development of women, etc.

Wellbeing initiatives

The philosophy declared by Ferrexpo is a culture in which the safety and well-being of employees is placed above other aspects of business. The group has implemented a number of initiatives in this direction. So, since 2020, the company has been conducting online training for all employees in four areas (mental, psychological, physical and financial well-being). A psychological support line operates on a permanent basis, where employees can receive individual consultations.

In June 2021, a well-being officer school was organized for 50 Ferrexpo line managers. For 5 weeks, they covered the topics of recognizing the team’s emotional state, assessing physical health, and effective feedback.

In the same year, the company developed and implemented the Wellbeing notebook, which, in particular, helped employees determine goals and implementation. In December 2022, the company held the “Coach under the Christmas tree” promotion, during which ten employees received three coaching sessions each on any topic of interest to them.

With the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, Ferrexpo expanded the services of the well-being program for the company’s employees to local schools, communities and displaced persons who found shelter in Horishni Plavnyi. More than 100 teachers of the city underwent a three-month training on stress resistance and got acquainted with the basics of psychological support for their students. Free access to the company’s psychological support line was opened for displaced persons and community residents.

“Since 2020, Ferrexpo has been implementing a number of programs as part of the 360-degree DEI strategy: the Fe_munity women’s leadership platform, the School of Inclusion, the Wellbeing employee welfare program and a number of other initiatives so that everyone feels happy in the company and has equal opportunities for development. At first, people did not believe that we would invest in them. After all, after the successful implementation of DEI programs, not only the company, but also the whole community received conscious, happy and motivated women and men who strive to build a culture of diversity, equality, openness and mutual respect, and are also ready to implement qualitative changes not only in the company, and communities“, noted Anna Adom, member of Poltava Mining’s board, director of personnel management and daily life at Ferrexpo in Ukraine.

Steps in implementing the DEI strategy, GMK Center

Further plans

For the current year, the company has planned:

  • conducting a number of webinars (one on involvement in Wellbeing, four on the topics of mental, physical and financial well-being).
  • conducting a screening survey to analyze the psychological state of employees and introduce corrective support methods.
  • arrangement of a relaxation room on the basis of workshops.
  • launch of the “Gratitude Chatbot” pilot project, where the company’s employees can thank their colleagues for support in their work, professionalism, efficiency, following the company’s values.

The war in Ukraine left an imprint on the company’s social strategy. In 2023, Ferrexpo opens an additional line of psychological support for those who have lost loved ones. Its purpose is to provide anti-crisis support to relatives of deceased employees who were drafted into the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the Poltava, Yeristiv, and Bilaniv military bases.

As Hanna Adom noted, despite the war, diversity, equality and inclusiveness remain a mandatory component of Ferrexpo’s development strategy. Therefore, the company not only did not abandon the implementation of the DEI strategy, but also expanded its programs at the all-Ukrainian level, because we are convinced that motivated Ukrainian men and women are a powerful driving force for accelerating our victory and the further reconstruction of Ukraine.