A view of the Mercer Rosenthal mill across a river through Rosenthal am Rennsteig in Germany

The Factor for Success: Equal Opportunities for Women and Men

Karoline Rabold | Mercer Rosenthal Project Manager

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common…. celebrate it every day.”

-Winston Churchill-

Besides focusing on workplace safety, sustainability, and innovation, Mercer as an International Corporation has defined Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) as one of our eight core values. This past year, DE&I has held a central role as Mercer launched a company-wide diversity management program. The goal of this program is to respond to the relevant regional challenges and conditions at each Mercer operation in order to further develop diversity within the teams. Our first objective within this program is to focus on improving and providing equal opportunities for women and men, as gender is a core dimension of diversity.

For Mercer Rosenthal, International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, provided the perfect launching pad for implementation at the mill. We established the “Local Diversity” project group, which represents a colourful mix of women and men of different ages, working in different departments, and holding varying levels of seniority throughout the company. Through this group, we hope to find innovative approaches to solutions that can promote a mix of women and men at all levels. 

As a result of the structured project work conducted by the group, initial results of our progress can already be shared. We are pleased to report that there is no gender pay gap at Mercer Rosenthal. For us, the basis of payment is always on the job performed – not the gender of the person performing the job. With women representing 18.5% of our workforce (the average percentage of the last 20 years), we are above the industry average for the German pulp and paper industry, currently at 17%. As an East German company, it is in our tradition that women contribute to the company’s success and it is through their contribution that Mercer Rosenthal is the company we are today. 

However, it is now more important than ever to prepare for future social changes, such as demographic change and a resulting shortage of skilled workers, and to inspire more women to take up technical professions in the pulp and paper industry. In this regard, we have identified potential for improvement for a mix of genders throughout our different occupational fields. 

This is where our current project work comes in. We are analyzing the infrastructural conditions within the varied fields of the mill, shedding light on gender-specific differentiation in work safety and developing concepts on how to break down classic prejudices against women and men professions. Supporting this analysis was the participation by the Rosenthal project group in a training course on “Sensitizing to Unconscious Bias”. This content provided valuable input and is now being offered Mercer-wide to all managers as well as the regional DE&I project groups. 

We will continue to work on implementing the defined measures and training in the conscious handling of diversity. After all, diversity lived out in practice is the key to success.