As an organization that prioritizes merits over gender identity, Wintershall Dea has been powered the momentum behind women’s inclusion in the workforce for years, working to break the barriers of gender exclusivity and pave the way for a more inclusive and tolerant future.
This is especially the case for Wintershall Dea Egypt, widely considered a role model for promoting the rights of women both inside and outside of the workplace while working to ensure that women have equal opportunities for career advancement and growth within the company.
“Wintershall Dea believes strongly in diversity, equity and inclusion. I personally share this belief and I’m proud to lead a diverse team, with many coming from different backgrounds, nationalities and genders, including many real strong women,” said Sameh Sabry, Senior Vice President, Managing Director Egypt of Wintershall Dea. “We want our company to be attractive to people with diverse backgrounds and to women and men alike. Because we want to recruit the best talents. And because we recognize that having a diverse team means diverse perspectives – and a stronger, more effective business. We strive to create an environment of equity – in which everyone has the same chance to thrive. We have a lot to be proud of. For example, our global certification from the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers. This confirmation of our approach to equal pay is good for business – helping foster a culture of transparency and trust. But, there is always more to be done. Through initiatives like our active global women’s network, we keep working,” Sabry added.
Take it from the women of Wintershall Dea themselves! Many of them have described the experience of working at Wintershall Dea as tolerant, progressive and open. My experience with regard to women empowerment at Wintershall Dea is outstanding. Having a company putting targets on diversification in hiring is a good instrument to increase the share of women in leadership position. Additionally, the training women receive regularly positively affects their career development”, said Ghada Khodeir, HR Business Partner. She added that the company’s women’s inclusion policies were especially beneficial during the pandemic “Wintershall Dea offered a hybrid working model throughout Covid-19 and then chose to continue to keep it. This model is supporting a good work-life balance and offers flexibility. It is not about the place of work but about the way of working and lowers the pressure on employees. All genders reported that it enabled them to have more quality time with their families.”
Executive Assistant Amira Abdel Aziz also added that the company “makes a point to diversify leadership positions, promote an environment of safe and open communication, and provide accessible resources for women.”
A Deep Understanding of Women’s Challenges in Business Culture
Nipping the problem in the bud requires in-depth knowledge of the challenges that women face in the industry on a daily basis. Wintershall Dea invests great effort into understanding the root causes of these challenges and does its best to resolve them with pragmatic solutions.
As a woman who has worked hard in the industry, Sara El Kholy, Commercial and Sales Expert, knows all too well what women have to go through. “The main challenges women face during their career are unconscious bias, this can be anything from a belief in gender stereotypes to subconscious attitudes about female capabilities. Eventually, women are more likely to be passed up for promotions.”
Senior Geologist Hamsa El-Khawaga also understands these challenges, saying: “Often females are taken less seriously than male but at the same time are assumed to be less committed than men. Our capabilities are questioned regularly.”
Senior Project Control & Planning, Nermin Ali explains that usually “women are taken less seriously as leaders than their male counterparts. They are less likely to be given ‘authoritative’ roles and generally face lower expectations for their career advancement. As harsh as it sounds, female leaders even in senior management positions often face lower (or different) expectations than their male counterparts,” she said, adding that “Wintershall Dea truly promote a culture that empowers female employees. They give women opportunities to prove themselves as leaders through adequate promotions and assignments.“
Opportunities for career advancement are often not found for women in the industry, a reality that Wintershall Dea is working to change for the good of everyone. From the perspective of Amira Sideek, IT Manager, improving accessibility is one of the main solutions that need to be looked into and it is also a key area that Wintershall Dea has always excelled in. “One of the challenges is limited career advancement opportunities, by ensuring equal access to promotions and new leadership positions. Mentorship programs and professional development strategies are also helpful when it comes to expanding opportunities and growing professional networks.” She added, “Women are a great asset to the workplace and their presence and advancement drive economic growth and improve businesses’ financial and organizational results.”
Empowerment Through Capacity Building
One of the most important ways of empowering women is to give them equal opportunities to build their capacities and develop themselves.
“With the full support of my company, I continuously sharpen my skills, I learn and grow. I think it is important to speak up, be visible, share your progress and assert your needs and positions as needed,” said Nermin Usama, Head of Communication & CSR.
Senior Geologist, Hamsa El-Khawaga also believes in equal access to professional development programs for all genders. “Career development should be given equally to every employee (woman/man) to implement and facilitate the development bases for everyone as if it is a part our daily work; eventually Wintershall Dea will have highly developed employees capable of moving the company toward a bright future.”
Leaving women behind the helm to steer the company in the right direction is one of the many results that came out of the company’s professional development initiatives made available to women. Finance Executive Assistant & Senior Technical Assistant, Rasha Ibrahim explains that Wintershall Dea also prides itself on its world-class mentoring program and its policies against harassment. “Our Company is supporting Diversity leadership by promoting women to management levels. Also implemented Mentoring Program to enable us to improve ourselves. It prevents sexual harassment and strongly encourages us to report it and take all necessary actions.” She added that the “company can support us to overcome harrassment/discrimination by keep creating new positions for women and giving them the opportunities they need to develop and perform better.”
Reham Youssef, Data and Information Expert, emphasized the importance of establishing professional networks. “Organizations can support creating opportunities for women to connect with each other by community-building,” she said. “One such way is through setting up an employee resource group which we already have in our company, the Women Network.”
Professional Development Through Role Modeling
A huge part of capacity building is through creating successful role models for women to follow. “Being a communications expert, I fully understand how a role model can provide inspiration and motivation, leading to better decisions and a more positive outlook on life. Role models can help the youth develop their talents and figure out what they want to do with their lives,” said Nermin Usama, Head of Communication & CSR. “People of all ages can benefit from having a role model. I was lucky when I met my first boss, who still is my role model in communications and social engagement. I will always mention her name ‘Nadia Sobhi’ with full pride in what she taught me.”
With a robust professional development program, Wintershall Dea has become a role model for other organizations to improve training and capacity building to ensure that women have equal opportunities in key leadership positions. For Shahista Soliman, HR Specialist, it is important to focus on being “more active in decision-making [and] self-awareness [as well as] to have short- and long-term goals [and] to get leadership training.” She added that organizations should also “[Have] equal pay, female leadership programs, set achievable goals to support women’s professional goals, provide them [with] more flexibility to create a better environment for career development [and] encourage women to get leadership goals and roles.”
Commercial Advisor, Amira Boshra, agrees, also believing that role modeling is important, stating “As basic as it may sound, it does make a huge difference in the morale of a young female professional to see hope through a successful woman leader.”
Commercial and Sales Expert, Sara El Kholy, explains that “role models have an important role to inspire employees when they are facing career roadblocks or challenging workplaces. Ultimately, role models can offer an alternative way of looking at who we are, what works for us, and what we want to achieve.” Executive Assistant, Amira Abdel Aziz, also agrees, saying “A role model can provide inspiration and motivation, leading to better decisions and a more positive outlook on life.”
Improving Work-Life Balance
Part of having a healthy working culture at an organization also means ensuring that women and employees of all genders enjoy a conducive work-life balance. Wintershall Dea has been a leader in this regard according to Senior Procurement and SAP Specialist, Nermeen El Shafie, who elaborates that “the company believes in work-life balance, and they take all the required measures to make sure that work doesn’t take priority over personal life.” She added, “The work from home policy has been acting as an incentive to support work-life balance.”
Establishing a healthy is the key to ensuring the well-being of the company’s employees while securing the interest of the company. “A healthy work-life balance encourages diversity and inclusion, which helps close the gender gap and increase gender balance,” said Senior planning and project control, Hadeel Galal. “As a means of enhancing work-life balance, our business uses the Flex Forward hybrid workplace model, which combines two sites for work. The choice to work in the office just on the two core days is made by the employees. The remaining three days can be planned and set up in a flexible manner, taking into account the needs of the person, the team, and the business.”
Amira Boshra, Commercial Advisor, agrees further stating that “Wintershall Dea’s Flex-forward policy which allows employees to work flexible hours (and remotely to a large extent) has tremendously helped with that. Without such flexible systems, women would typically be more penalized than men for having family-related obligations.”
Passant Ibrahim, Treasury Accountant, says that the company’s flexibility in terms of establishing a healthy work-life balance is especially important for new mothers, who faced endless challenges trying to attend to their family obligations while excelling in their careers. “In my opinion one of the challenges that an ambitious woman might face when pregnant or nursing is that it can affect the continuous improvement of her skills,” she said. “Organizations can help in that by providing specific flexible programs to ensure a continuous improvement.”