Women make up almost two-thirds of Vattenfall's Executive Group Management. What difference does it make to one of Europe's leading energy companies? We asked the male minority.
The energy idustry is male-dominated with women only constituting a quarter of Vattenfall’s workforce. However, in Group management, things now look different. When Anna Borg succeeded Magnus Hall in the autumn of 2020, Vattenfall got its first female CEO in its 100 plus year history. In addition, all but one of the vacant Group management positions has been filled by a woman in the past year. The only new man to enter Group management was Head of HR Christian Barthélémy.
Women at the top, what does it matter?
As of 2021, women dominate executive positions at Vattenfall, one of Sweden's and Europe's most important technological companies. But does it make a difference? We asked the four men in Vattenfall’s Executive Group Management, EGM.
Torbjörn Wahlborg heads BA Generation, Vattenfall's largest business area. He has been with the company since 1990:
"When I became a member of Group management in 2009, it was only the Communications Director who was female, so we have certainly improved. Actually, this is the first time in my life that I have had a female manager, and she is someone I managed a few years ago in another role. But I don't see any real difference now in how the EGM team works, how we discuss things and how we take decisions. Perhaps there is a little less prestige involved than before, but that could also be a result of personalities. Generally, what is important is that the right people with the right skills are hired into leadership positions. Given the same opportunities, it would only be natural to end up with a 50/50 gender split. I'm a proponent of diversity. We may not have come quite as far in other diversity aspects, but gender is the first important step in these efforts."
Andreas Regnell, Vattenfall's Head of Strategy, has been a member of the EGM for more than a decade:
"On the one hand, I have long had female managers, and personally, I think the issue of gender is rather uninteresting. On the other hand, I am proud to be working for a company with such a constellation of top executives. A company whose CEO, CFO and most Business Area heads are female and that is also making a record profit is the epitome of progressiveness. We are thought leaders in our industry, we are driving climate transition and development in the industry and we are progressive when it comes to women's opportunities to reach the top. There aren't many other companies that can beat that. We are viewed as being a cool company, which is good for us and our business."
Christian Barthélémy, Head of HR and resident of Berlin, is a newcomer to the management team:
"I have been at Vattenfall for more than ten years, working closely with female managers, colleagues and co-workers, so it’s in my DNA. Some years ago I was approached by a company here in Germany to come and work for them. They had an interesting offer for me, but then I realised that there were only men in their executive board and I took an active decision to decline the job. I believe a balanced team is more open, transparent and in the end makes better decisions compared to a male-dominated group of people. And with a good balance also in other dimensions of diversity, such as age, ethnicity, etcetera, we know that the conditions for good results are even better. Also, we are unique in the utility industry having a diverse EGM, a powerful CEO visible in important public contexts, in combination with a strong purpose and leading role in energy transformation. This makes people want to work for us; it makes us an attractive employer."
Martijn Hagens, Head of BA Customers & Solutions became a member of Group management in 2015 and is the only Dutch member of the EGM:
"I actually think it’s quite a weird question in the sense that no one asked about how gender affects the team when most of the executives were men. To me there is no real difference between now and before. A much bigger difference is that we for the past two years have had to meet on Teams instead of in person. Basically, the only thing that matters is that it is a good person in the position. And frankly, there are other diversity dimensions where we still have work to do. Looking at age, we are not very diverse. In that particular case, we actually try to mitigate some of the deficiencies by reverse mentoring, where we in the executive team learn from younger co-workers. Also – we are an all-white team. Having said that, I am really happy that we have come this far when it comes to females in executive positions. Here in the Netherlands, female executives and board members are not as common as in Sweden. Sometimes I visit customer companies with only men at the top, and I feel a different atmosphere. I very much prefer to work in the first example."
Diversity and inclusion integral to Group management
As of 2015, one member of Vattenfall's Executive Group Management is assigned Group responsibility for the Diversity & Inclusion area. The assignment is for two years and rotates through the team. In the autumn 2021 BA Generation's Torbjörn Wahlborg handed over the baton to Head of Communications Karin Lepasoon.
Seven women and four men in Vattenfall's Executive Group Management
- Anna Borg, CEO
- Kerstin Ahlfont CFO)
- Ulrika Jardfelt, Head of BA Heat
- Helen Biström Head of BA Wind
- Anna-Karin Stenberg, Head of BA Markets
- Christian Barthélémy, Head of HR
- Torbjörn Wahlborg Head of BA Generation
- Martijn Hagens, Head of BA Customers & Solutions
- Karin Lepasoon, Head of Communications
- Ann Gynnerstedt, Head of Legal
- Andreas Regnell, Head of Strategic Development