In August 2022, for the first time, 200 employees from the 150-year-old company, Chr. Hansen, joined Copenhagen Pride, celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion in the streets of Copenhagen.
We spoke to Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, Alice Larsen, about why Chr. Hansen decided to join the party and engage in this agenda.
“Copenhagen Pride is one of many initiatives that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. In today’s world, it is increasingly important that we feel accepted and included for who we are. Creating a culture where employees are comfortable bringing their full selves to work, every day, is important in Chr. Hansen. We’re proud of where we are on our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. However, this is a continuous journey that needs attention, awareness and new actions. Our participation in Copenhagen Pride demonstrates our allyship and was an important step for us to take as an organization.”
You seem truly passionate about Chr. Hansen raising its voice on this important topic?
“This agenda is close to my heart, both on a business- and personal level. I have a “rainbow family", with my daughter being a donor child, and my ex-partner being a woman. I feel it is an essential human right that people at workplaces are open, curious and inclusive, thereby allowing everyone to be who they are at work. The same way that I want to be able to bring my full self to work, every day.
On a societal level, I think about how local cultures embrace a teenager growing up in a non-traditional family constellation. The younger generations who are entering the workforce have different expectations and perspectives on what inclusion means and looks like. I’ve experienced that they do not need to be convinced with research showing the positive impact of diversity, their language and attitudes are different and more naturally including.”
Have you faced any barriers professionally for leading a different family life?
“When I was younger there were times when it felt intimidating to speak openly about my lifestyle, but I felt even worse lying to people. My approach has always been, if people ask, I give them an honest answer. I have not faced barriers as such but often find myself in situations where I have had to explain that my personal situation is different than most people's. I consider myself as having been lucky because I know other people who have encountered biases and prejudices in the workplace.”
What can we all do as colleagues to support diversity, equity and inclusion on a more ongoing basis at Chr. Hansen?
“It’s important to highlight that we have a role to play when it comes to our attitude and awareness around diversity, equity and inclusion. We can all exercise allyship, which fundamentally means being curious, non-judgmental and open to ideas and behavior different from our own. The diversity, equity and inclusion agenda is essentially very simple and closely aligned with our Chr. Hansen culture: show respect for others, listen and invite dialogue to foster mutual understanding and a sense of belonging.
“Through our participation in Pride, and our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion every day, I sincerely hope that all Hansenites worldwide will feel supported and encouraged to be who they are, love whom they want and live as they prefer. Let’s together embrace our diverse workforce and inclusive culture.”