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BUILDING A CASE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Vera Huang, Global Merchandising Senior Manager, Shanghai

Vera is a merchandising manager working in our production office in Shanghai, China – a liaison between ARKET’s designers and buying office in Stockholm and local supplying companies. Vera and her team are the ones that make sure the garments produced by the suppliers follow ARKET’s high standards in terms of quality, sustainability and fit. The team pays regular visits to the suppliers’ factories, acting as representatives of the ARKET brand towards the external business partners.

‘I see gender-equal and diverse leadership as a strategic business imperative for organisations that want to stay relevant and build a solid foundation for the future. Traditionally, the role designated to women has left them with little room for personal development. But we know now that communities and workplaces where women feel empowered to make decisions about their lives and careers benefit from it.

My primary mission as a leader is to build confidence among the team, inspire and encourage them to co-create a warm and inclusive work environment. My responsibility is also to make sure we achieve our business goals, but it wouldn’t be possible without a team that has been given the right conditions to do so. Early on, I have understood that we can overcome many challenges that come with our jobs when we brainstorm together. I see that my team thrives when they have the confidence to speak up and feel that every idea is welcomed, and no question is too silly to ask. This way, we have, for example, made fantastic progress in securing sustainable materials and minimising production waste for our orders.
Since my team and I work closely with supplying companies, we are in a position to deliver a strong message about gender equality outside of our organisation. Through showcasing the connection between women in leadership and positive business results, we can inspire other companies to open up to change and support them along the way.

The most impressive advice I ever got was to build my career on what I want, not what others want for me. Take something you believe in and make it your mission. Stay curious and learn – the business environment changes quickly. Your understanding of the leading practices, strategic thinking, and emerging tools will help you be ready when an opportunity comes.’

TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES

As a company we have a great responsibility to advance gender equality and actively seek opportunities to empower women through our business. This applies to both our employees and the 170,000 textile workers employed by our suppliers.

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We do this by committing to our diversity, inclusiveness and equality policies, setting goals and measuring our performance as a brand. We actively share our insights and expertise with our business partners and support them in creating more gender-equal leadership structures through a number of initiatives together with the H&M Foundation.

As individuals, we also hold immense power to lead by example, endorse women around us and challenge the status quo. At ARKET, we believe that each of us can be part of the change. Our joint efforts will eventually lead to a structural shift that will enable people of all genders, identities, talents and backgrounds to equally participate in society and be meaningfully represented by leadership bodies.
 

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