Friederike Rissing, Reckitt Benckiser

Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2018. We have interviewed a series of our female clients asking them how they are pressing forward for women's gender parity #pressforprogress

Frazer Jones interviewed Friederike Rissing, Reckitt Benckiser

Friederike Rissing

Present Progress

How is gender parity being achieved in your profession and what do you think needs to be done to press for progress?
I work for RB, a global leader in hygiene and health, as HR Director. HR is different to most other functions, the gender gap is more likely to be biased towards men, so the focus is reversed and I feel there is a need to excite more men to work within HR.

The challenge of the industry not specifically my function is to create an environment that allows to retain and nurture talent while progressing through to senior roles in the organisation. Because whilst having many women in managerial positions there are relatively less on senior levels.

As an HR professional, I see my role in creating an environment where everyone can equally progress and succeed. As an example, within RB we created a movement which is called DARE – develop, attract, retain and engage talented women. DARE is a framework which supports respecting individual needs – especially of women - while progressing through the organisation. I am proud of initiatives we have successfully implemented globally and as well locally in Germany. Besides flexible working, part-time, an occasionally working from home policy and sabbatical opportunities we are piloting job sharing on managerial levels. It´s a great start! But this is only a start. To keep progressing, amongst other things, I personally take responsibility to continuously create awareness of unconscious biases: for example, in recruitment, talent or performance review processes where I challenge our leaders to ensure we are all aware of our possible biases with the aim to foster a very diverse workforce.

I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved globally and locally so far. However, the journey continues since shifting of mindsets and driving cultural changes requires time and therefore we need to continue to drive the right behaviours and never rest improving our working environment.

What would you say the top 3 skills are needed in order to be successful in your industry?
Looking at the industry and our unique company culture we see talents progressing best if they know their strengths and understand what they are good at and what they enjoy doing. These individuals know their source of energy which enables them to build resilience and set clear priorities. In my opinion, people who have found a purpose in what they do are set up for success and progress. These are often the individuals who very well know how to “balance” or better “integrate” private life and work life into one. It might sound simple but it isn´t.

Future Progress

What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?
I take pride when I successfully contribute to helping individuals in understanding WHY they do what they do, by creating an environment which gives freedom on HOW individuals and teams work, to ensure that WHAT we all do is excellent and helps the business outperform.

I feel energized:
• When I help people find their purpose in what they do enabling them to follow their passions, enjoy work and be successful in what they do by contributing in their best way to the overall objectives of the business;
• When I contribute to creating a working environment where everyone loves to come to work every day because they make an impact, use their strengths, have accountability and freedom, take ownership and give ownership to others, learn from direct reports, peers and leaders;
• When we create a framework where a diverse workforce can progress equally being able to combine their private objectives with work achievements; and
• When I am able to inspire talents to become authentic leaders who sustainably help the organization to grow and serve our consumers best;

At the recent Golden Globes, Oprah delivered a moving speech which led to people talking about her running for president. If you had the choice to recommend a leader, who would it be and why?

I was most inspired by a leader I had the honour to work with in the past, who introduced herself on her first day as Marketing Director in our business like this: ‘I am a mummy first and then I am a Marketing Director.’.

After being promoted to General Manager, she is now a Regional Director for our RB Health business – obviously extremely successful. I admire how she can inspire the full organisation by being one of the most authentic leaders I know. She is incredibly smart, very skilled with a strong character thus being approachable, not afraid of showing vulnerability and is described as very human and down to earth. She definitely is one of these successful women still being very female and not adapting male behaviours. She has a genuine interest in people, she clearly communicates her priorities, she is full of energy, loves what she does and people love to work for her. She is incredible positive and a lot of fun to work with. Yes, it might sound very simple but my experience shows that it is not. She is a role model for the younger generation and takes pride in coaching others and sharing her experience as a Mentor.