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Companies that embrace diversity tend to be more successful than those that don’t. They are able to recruit and retain the best talent from a variety of backgrounds and create products and services that appeal to more people. 

It is with these thoughts in mind, that Nokia is able to celebrate – for the first time ever – a 100% rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2013 Corporate Equality Index, which rates workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.

The Corporate Equality Index is a national benchmarking tool in the USA that looks at corporate policies and practices that affect LGBT employees. Every company that scores 100% on the Index, such as Nokia, is recognised on HRC’s ‘Best Places to Work’ list.


LGBT at Nokia

Diversity at Nokia, or indeed any company, is beneficial for all sorts of reasons, but there is also a compelling business case. 

Consider this approach:

The best way to understand customers around the world is to have a truly diverse workforce with people of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds, skills and abilities, lifestyles, generations and perspectives.

Jonathan Silverman, HR Manager, Berlin; Susan Macfarlane, Compensation and Benefits Manager, Americas, and Nokia’s Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Adam Travis, have been working towards securing the 100% Corporate Equality Index rating for several years. One step was the launch of the LGBT@Nokia employee network.

“One of the objectives was doing things with the LGBT community and going out to recruitment fairs and getting involved in product development, for example in Grindr. Also with HRC, achieving 100% was one of the things we wanted to do,” says Adam.

Corporate Equality

With the 100% rating now successfully attained (Stephen Elop will be particularly pleased as this target was officially sponsored by Nokia’s CEO), Conversations spoke to Neil Wilks, Nokia’s HR director in North America to discuss the significance of the award.


How important is the 100% rating for Nokia?

I think it is easy to say that this achievement is really important to us; although I think it is also important to say that performance in surveys is not the driver for us to make changes in our employment policies.

The real driver is that we are able to attract and maintain the highest quality of employees, no matter their background and we are always looking at ways to continuously improve our offering – both to the external employee market and to the internal staff who are already part of our community.

Nokia has previously scored 50% and 70%. What steps were taken to secure the 100% rating for 2013?

The main thing that was done was to change the scope and provision of the healthcare benefits in the US. For some context, of the major benefits that any employee gets in the US, healthcare is the most important.

We recognised that the LGBT health and welfare requirements have a unique set of costs outside of the standard welfare policy and we took a deep look at this.

In terms of being sure that we were offering a fair and widely covered policy for our entire employee base we wanted to include transgender-inclusive benefits into our offering. 

With the support of Tina Kremenezky, Nokia’s Director, Employment Law, a number of amendments were also made to Nokia’s spousal and partner benefits.

Can this recognition from the Corporate Equality Index help Nokia’s core business?

It can only help. One of the things that I hear regularly from consumers and operator customers is that Nokia is a well-loved company all over the world and despite our recent financial struggles; many, people want us to come back and to come back strong. Every little bit of recognition helps us with that. So I think this is a very good thing. 

People in general have a very high emotional IQ and we make products that people are emotionally connected to. To know that there is a much-loved company out there that supports unique issues adds an additional bond to that.

Nokia Lumia 920

How important is the leadership of a company to help create a culture where diversity can thrive?

The leadership in any company shapes the culture in a really positive way.

My take on the Nokia culture after six years here is that it’s an incredibly open environment. I like that having your opinion and questioning of the management is really highly valued here. In that respect I think the leadership at Nokia have created something quite unique in a corporation of this size.

If you think about our business environment, we’re always at risk of people leaving our company and joining our competitors. However, they stay because of our culture, the relationships that they hold with other people and all the things that bind ‘Nokians’ together. 

That can only be based on trust and respect for everybody. The diversity that we’ve achieved is good and is really powerful for our business because we get a different level of thinking.