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

As part of the implementation of the project “Equipping the production of the only factory of lighting fixtures in Croatia” as part of the tender “Building and equipping the production capacities of SMEs – phase II” financed by the European Fund for Regional Development, an interview was conducted with Nevenka Varjačić, director of the company Dekor tvornica rasvjete d.o.o.

Why did you decide to embark on this project?

It is an investment project as part of the tender conducted by HAMAG-BICRO in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, to which we applied in order to be able to further strengthen technological capabilities, increase production capacity and expand our range of lighting fixtures.

Through this project, we are acquiring very important machines with which we will modernize production and raise it to a new level. The company’s existing machine park is somewhat outdated, and the need to purchase new equipment arose. The project also co-finances the education of our employees so that we have the opportunity to provide high-quality training for production employees to work on new machines.

The total value of the project is HRK 18,509,407.50, of which HRK 6,662,937.90 are grants from the EU, 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 manufacturing companies to increase their competitiveness, expand their product range, strengthen their technological capabilities and knowledge, train human resources, increase their capacity, create new jobs, and increase their income from sales and exports.

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 we strive to support the promotion of gender equality by our example 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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