Equal opportunities despite gender have always been very important for Ahlstrom’s CEO Helen Mets. In September 2023, Helen was featured in INvolve's 2023 Heroes Women Model List as one of the top 20 Women Executive Role Models.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are a vital part of Ahlstrom’s culture, and they are driven by the company’s values. When Helen started as the CEO of Ahlstrom in January 2023, it was clear that she would be steering the company's transformation with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion.
“In my first 100 days as CEO of Ahlstrom, I engaged with employees all around the world, and in addition to sharing about our strategy and future direction, I took the opportunity to explain why diversity and inclusion matter to me. This creates a culture that enables people to find their voice, speak up, and come forward with feedback and ideas. In addition, it has been important to start building strong, balanced leadership teams with diverse representation, and by doing so, we are able to walk the talk and create role models that drive change and impact,” says Helen.
Helen is supporting Diversity & Inclusion within Ahlstrom also by sponsoring programs targeted at Ahlstrom’s employees that help future female leaders navigate their leadership journeys and support the inclusion of all generations of female employees. One of the programs is called NICE, which stands for Nurturing, Inclusive, Collaborative, and Equal. “It is aimed at providing tools and sponsorship for our talented female employees, with the aim to help them successfully navigate their career paths” Helen notes.
In September 2023, Helen Mets was featured in INvolve’s Heroes Women Model List as one of the top 20 Women Executive Role Models. The Heroes Women Role Model Lists showcase leaders championing women in business and driving change for gender diversity in the workplace. Being featured on the list is an acknowledgment of years of work. Before starting at Ahlstrom, Helen Mets had advanced women’s equal opportunities in numerous roles. And she continues to do so alongside her role at Ahlstrom. She still dedicates time to keynote speaker engagements at several women’s leadership events in order to inspire women in their careers and support large, impactful companies in their D&I journey.
“Throughout my career, I have spoken up for equal opportunities and breaking bias – for example, when I was refused promotion for being seven months pregnant early in my career, I contacted the head of the selection committee, asking for a fair process. I ended up getting the job! I use this as an example when I speak to women about my journey,” Helen tells.
Diversity and inclusion are not only good for the people, but they are also essential for profitable business. Studies have shown that diversity increases innovative thinking by boosting employee engagement and ultimately driving better results. Helen Mets knows this well. She has been driving growth in several businesses during her career. And she is excited to continue her work now together with the Ahlstrom team. The company’s 5-year goal for gender equality is nothing less than ambitious. The goal is to have 40% women in top leadership positions and more than 20% women in the workforce.