Maria Varsellona / Nokia
Nokia’s chief legal officer Maria Varsellona spearheads the efforts to create a company where women have the same opportunities as men and are well represented in all business domains and functions.
Maria Varsellona has served as Nokia’s chief legal officer since May 2014. Four years later, she was appointed as president of Nokia Technologies. She spoke to WIPR about her role and her company’s strategy towards increasing diversity.
What’s the gender dynamic at Nokia?
In both organisations that I lead, the Nokia Technologies business and the legal and compliance group, the gender balance is higher than for Nokia overall, but we are not yet fully reflecting the balance of the world around us.
"The world can become a better place if we have a diverse pool of people defining how their future will look."
In Nokia Technologies, two of my four direct reports are female—Eeva Hakoranta, who heads our IP team and serves as general counsel for Nokia Technologies, and Jenni Lukander, who leads the patent business, our patent licensing organisation.
Why is it so important to have gender diversity at
We believe it’s a smart thing to do. At Nokia we know that a diverse workforce makes innovation, performance, and execution easier. We’re making progress.
Bloomberg included Nokia in its 2019 Gender-Equality Index for our transparency and commitment to women’s equality. But we know that we can still do better.
Today, women represent less than a quarter of our employee population. We also need to do more to close the pay gap. I’m happy to share that our group leadership team is acting to address these issues.
What are Nokia’s aspirations for gender diversity?
That’s very simple. As a company, our ambition is to have a gender balance that reflects the world around us, and a workplace where men and women have equal opportunities to succeed in every function and at every level.
What more can STEM industries do to encourage the participation of women?
It boils down to accountability. Nice words are not enough. Companies need to hire more women, develop them in a similar way to how men are being developed and give them more opportunities to progress.
We also need to understand why they choose to leave our industry, to consistently remove any barriers or setbacks they have encountered.
What is Nokia doing to encourage the participation of women in STEM?
Nokia is committed to participating in building a long-term female talent pipeline within the ICT sector.
In the India region, we have introduced various initiatives focused on recruiting diverse talent, at both the lateral and the graduate level. The success of our female employees is key to our own success, and we are committed to supporting the professional goals and aspirations of our female colleagues. In 2018, in India, our graduate diversity hiring improved to 49% from 40% in 2017.
Nokia has been collaborating with Greenlight for Girls (G4G), a non-profit focusing on driving girls’ interest for STEM through interactive science and technology workshops.
Last year, Nokia hosted several G4G-events to drive the interest of 11 to 15-year-old girls for STEM, inviting 1,500 girls to experience a day of science at Nokia, hosted by 400 Nokia volunteers.
The ages of 11 to 15 are important. At that stage, boys and girls decide what is cool to study. We need to get our foot in the door and show them how much fun STEM can be, but also how the world can become a better place if we have a diverse pool of people defining how their future will look.
What is Nokia doing to increase the retention of women in STEM?
We look at this holistically. Our goal is to create a working place that is attractive for women in STEM, that shows our industry cares about them and their input.
It’s about being an attractive employer for women, recruiting the best people and retaining them through providing interesting opportunities and development.
We have invested in an inclusive culture which respects the individual, but also gives them the challenges they need to develop.
What is the StrongHer initiative?
Initiated and led by employees for employees, this award-winning initiative contributes to women’s empowerment, helping them unleash their potential and magnify their business contribution, and increase the representation of women at all levels and in all job functions in our company.
The network is a grassroots movement, created in 2011 by six female employees in France and is open to all employees. Members want a company where women have the same opportunities as men and are well represented in all business domains and functions.
StrongHer advances gender diversity by offering networking opportunities, personal development, and a think-tank on leadership and management. It also provides exposure to diverse role models for women and men, along with business contacts within and beyond the technology sector.
For us, StrongHer has been an eye-opener on the many causes for low representation of women in the ICT industry and in leadership roles. I’m pleased to share that as of January this year, StrongHer had more than 3,000 members in 70 countries across five continents, with 43 active chapters and around a quarter of the members being men.
Nokia, equal opportunities, business domains, patent licensing, diversity, innovation, gender equality, gender pay gap, G4G, STEM, StrongHer, Bloomberg