Interview: “By our example, we try to support the promotion of gender equality and inspire and encourage women to use their business potential”

As part of the implementation of the project “Application of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in the factory of lighting fixtures” as part of the tender “Increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources in manufacturing industries” financed from the mechanism for recovery and resilience 2021-2026. An interview was conducted with Nevenka Varjačić, the director of the company Dekor tvornica rasvjete d.o.o.

Why did you decide to embark on this project?
It is a project as part of a tender carried out by the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. and switched to the use of renewable energy.
The total value of the project is €2,162,183.38, of which €1,343,787.56 are EU grants, which is not an insignificant amount. Moreover, without these grants, our company would not be able to implement this project to the extent that it can thanks to the support received.

Apart from financial support for the project, what are the other advantages that such projects offer?
Such projects enable energy savings, reduction of harmful gas emissions, and less use of electricity from conventional sources.
In addition to the above, through the project we have the opportunity to talk about important issues such as gender equality and to promote equal opportunities and non-discrimination in employment.
During the implementation of this project, we decided to take additional actions related to gender equality. When hiring new employees during and after the implementation of the project, we will try to balance the number of women and men in the company, as well as in the management positions of the company. We also actively promote female entrepreneurship with the aim of reducing the gap in the representation of men and women in leading positions in companies.

You are the director of the company Dekor tvornica rasvjete d.o.o. In your opinion, what is the situation regarding women in management positions in Croatian companies?
Although the growth of female entrepreneurship has been visible in recent years and it is increasingly being promoted, from my own experience I must note that men still predominate in the management positions of our numerous business associates, customers and suppliers. I am especially glad when I meet a female entrepreneur, because with her I can still share various experiences from a slightly different perspective than I can with my male colleagues.

How do you respond to the challenges of gender equality in your company?
One of the main challenges of gender equality that we face is the elimination of gender stereotypes about how only men work on CNC machines and can be in leadership positions in manufacturing activities. Dekor also employs women who work in production and use CNC machines. Contrary to common prejudices, working on CNC machines is not hard physical work, and CNC operator positions are highly paid positions in companies. That is why it is important to encourage women to engage in this type of work.
Although we have almost the same ratio of women and men in management positions, we are aware that this is not the case everywhere, and by our example we strive to support the promotion of gender equality and to inspire and encourage women to use their business potential.

From your own business experience, what would you say to women who are thinking about entering entrepreneurship?
With an entrepreneurial idea and initial capital, I still think that the most important thing is to have faith in yourself. When a woman believes that she can achieve what she sets out to do, she will surely find a way to do it, all she needs is a sufficient dose of persistence and courage.
I believe that it is in the interest of all of us to encourage female entrepreneurship because, according to many studies, women entrepreneurs generally start smaller financial ventures, take fewer risks, and the jobs they create are more permanent and stable. In companies where women are owners or directors, there are fewer layoffs, and employees are more actively involved in operational business.

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