During the first part of our conversation, you said that reaching the fifth maturity level
in terms of diversity & inclusion required two years of intense work – building
awareness, education and creating systemic conditions required by LEAD. Until
recently, it was a niche topic, now it generates a lot of buzz. What is Kompania
Piwowarska’s approach to D&I?
Małgorzata Wieczorek: An issue that stands out and thus becomes a priority is the
differentiation between men and women, which results from the fact that we are a male-
dominated business – especially when it comes to managerial positions. Traditionally,
stereotypically, the beer industry is a ‘manly’ business. After analysing at the data, we
realized that there was a lot of work to be done in that respect.
What came to the foreground across the entire Asahi Europe organization was the matter of
empowering women and providing them with equal opportunities in terms of professional
career and possibility of getting a promotion in this male-dominated world. Frankly, it is
indicated by data. Our ambition is to achieve an equal share of women in leadership by
2030. While doing our best to avoid discriminating men, we implement a number of solutions
aimed at attracting women to our business, encouraging them to apply for higher positions.
We support women when their careers slow down, i.e. when they become mothers.
Besides that, there are two more areas that emerged at grassroots. One of them, indicated
by our employees, is age diversity. Many companies have people representing different
generations working alongside, which poses a real challenge. That is exactly what we are
dealing with, thus we execute activities the goal of which is to make everyone feel
comfortable at our company and help employees find common ground.
The third area, which we actually started with, even though we did not now at the time that it
was related to D&I, focuses on individual differences. Five, six years ago, we carried our
individual and team efficiency workshops, based on the Insights Discovery method. During
the workshops, our employees discovered and experienced that regardless of significant
individual differences they are able to communicate with each other. Thanks to Insights
Discovery, people get to know their character type, learn what type their colleagues are, and
for example how an extreme introvert and an extreme extravert can get along. We still work
with Insights Discovery and will continue to do so.
Sex, age, individual differences – these are the three key areas around which we focus our D&I related activities.
And let’s not forget about our flagship program – “Shine as you are”. Regardless of who you
are, what your orientation is, what political views you have, or what your religion is – we want
you to feel good at our company and have the right conditions to release and realize your
potential. We will do everything in our power to make sure that no one is favoured or
discriminated due to the fact that they are different.
Openness to initiatives
When it comes to our activities, we do not accept general assumptions. In different
organizational units there are different minorities. Every department has a program adjusted
to their needs. We are a big company, therefore our departments are big and very different
from each other. But we want everyone to be able to grow at Kompania Piwowarska. On the
one hand, we all have access to the same training courses and development activities, on
the other – every department can implement separate, specific initiatives. For example,
Production decided that to attract more women, and to do so we need to join forces with
technical universities at all our locations and invite students to the breweries, so they can
see with their own eyes that we are an attractive employer.
Team development and attitude
Until the end of last year, we were functioning in the D&I area as a project team, which I had
established. The initiative took off with new grassroots initiatives sprouting, and at the
beginning of 2023 we changed the management system. The project expanded beyond just
HR. A steering committee was established, focusing on diversity: it is composed of
representatives of all our departments and different leadership levels. The committee is
parallelly chaired by Urszula Czerniawska-Kapeluch, Żubr Senior Brand Manager and
Marcin Nikiel, Vice-President of Finance, to ensure female and male representation. The
committee’s plan is approved by the Board, we consult our activities with the Asahi Europe
HQ, and we decide in which areas the committee should support particular departments’ D&I
activity. We agree on what should be done and who should do it every time. We meet on a
regular basis, analyse emerging initiatives, and decide who will take care of what, making
sure to include as many people as possible into these processes and that they are not
blocked in any way.
Diversity and harmony
Our employees’ approach to D&I issues is diverse. It results from individual differences
depending on world views or openness to changes. If someone aims for a harmonious life
then, regardless of the location or position, they get engaged in inclusion-related activities
and support them. The programs are joined by people from all our departments and
Employees’ pride in executed activities
When we first became active in the D&I area, I had to often explain what it is and why we are
focusing on that. Now, there are no such questions. People call, send messages, submit
their ideas, ask how they can get involved. They seem proud of the fact that we are taking
care of that. It is a massive change, which I have been observing over the last three years.
What is going on outside of our company also matters. Minorities gain voice, women
demand equal rights. Our employees keep hearing from different sources that it is a major
topic, but also see that they can contribute in their own environment and workplace.
Moving on from theory to practice
The biggest challenge in terms of D&I activity is moving from theory to practice. It is easy to
sign documents or develop a plan but, in the end, it is all about changing our daily reality. To
make sure that it all translates into a change in people’s behaviours and relationships. This
has always been the biggest challenge, not only for Kompania Piwowarska, but also the
whole world. These are such fundamental changes that it will take many generations to fully
adapt them. We just make our contribution.
Diversity is a fact, and inclusion is an act of will, work. It requires commitment and effort. The
challenge to become more inclusive concerns each and one of us. When I was taking part in
training led by Matthew Jipps [editor’s note: Małgorzata mentioned it in the first part of the
interview], I realized that I have my own biases. We are often unaware of the fact that we
have them. Learning to be inclusive is a process and a journey that everyone has to embark
on and complete, while working on ourselves. Only then can we change our reality and the
It cannot be a change to show off. Everyone should be ready to reflect, come to conclusions
and lead future generations by example. We need to reach a point where there is nothing left
to learn and no need to talk about it. On a global scale, we are a small company, but let’s not
forget that every change starts with one person. Every little thing we do matters. One person
can influence three others. Every one of those people impacts three more. The more we talk
about it, the greater example of self-development we give, the better. The most important
thing is to embark on that journey.
Valuable example from leadership
I am incredibly proud of the fact that such a large group of people got involved in the D&I
processes. Obviously, our activities are personally supported by the Board Members, who
joined them on their own initiative. The chairman of the steering committee is KP’s Vice-
President of Finance. I must emphasize that these are not image-building activities – these
people work, organize meetings, ask difficult questions, verify. It is extremely important,
particularly in commercial organizations, where changes are nearly impossible without the
engagement of leadership. It cannot be all talk and no action. Declarations and documents
are important, but what really matters is how the Board Members and directors act on a daily
What is next for KP in terms of D&I
We do have an action plan. We will mainly focus on education and building awareness. We
want people to know what to do on a daily basis to become more inclusive. We will provide
them with everyday guidance.
We will intend to maintain the fifth LEAD Network level, which requires maintaining specific
procedures, processes and routines. We cannot rest on our laurels. If we do not continue our
work, next year the score will not be so great.
We want to improve our recruitment processes. We still struggle to attract diverse
candidates to some positions. Furthermore, there is a lot to be done in terms of external
communication of our activities. So far, we have been concentrating on our internal activity,
thinking that there is not enough to talk about yet. Now there is!
What are the benefits of D&I
At the very basic level, D&I provides a company with access to a higher number of talents.
We are able to attract people who theoretically would not come to us. That helps us escape
the rut. Diverse teams translate to increased innovativeness. There are different voices and
opinions, and thus higher probability of making the right decision.
Moreover, inclusion influences the atmosphere and increases the sense of security. People
simply better enjoy their work. Individuals feel better in a group, they are healthier, more
creative, and smile more often. That translates into improved performance.
What do individuality and diversity have in common with gold and platinum
Let’s practise, expand our horizons and follow the path of continuous development. Let’s
exercise independent thinking. Let’s be brave. Let’s not be scared of people who are
different than us. Let’s be curious about new, ground-breaking ideas. Let’s not avoid
otherness but be open to it. Let’s invite and look for that otherness because it makes us
human. In the following era, the era of artificial intelligence and independent thinking, our
individuality and diversity are worth their weight in gold and platinum.