Janne Jarnfeldt: “Make yourself visible – make a difference”

Tamara Schwenk
08.03.2022 | 3 minutes

International Women's Day

Hi Janne, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Janne: For me personally celebrating the International Women’s Day is very important. It is a day where we honor the women who initially started this movement and thus paved the way for us. They didn’t have the same opportunities as we do nowadays. Women way back had to fight for their rights – be it the right to vote, to work, to simply take part in society and become independent. And because of their bravery and commitment, women nowadays can go to work, be in politics, state their opinion and thus impact society. However, I have the feeling that we sometimes tend to take this for granted. That’s why we need to use a day like this to remind ourselves that these opportunities didn’t come by themselves. 

What is your take on this year’s theme #breakthebias?

Janne: As a Diversity Ambassador and working in HR, I think it is very important to put this topic into focus. When we hire people, interview them, or offer promotions we have to focus on the person itself and on their competencies. People shouldn’t be treated differently because they are male or female. But unfortunately, that’s not reality. Especially females still have to fight with many biases. For example, that women don’t have what it takes to be a manager or that they shouldn’t be hired as they may go on maternity leave. I know it sounds silly, but this is really what some still unconsciously believe. In my position I try my best to overcome and eliminate such biases. I speak with the hiring managers, and we carry out training sessions to make sure that unconscious bias doesn’t impact our decisions. Of course, we also still have a way to go, but we are getting there step by step.  

Women's network at Arvato Financial Solutions

What role do you think the women’s network United Women plays in overcoming challenges that women face every day?

Janne: Women nowadays are under a lot of pressure. They are expected to be fit, have a family, a career, a great social life and manage all of it at the same time. There are so many boxes to be ticked. The women’s network at Arvato Financial Solutions offers a safe space, where women can come together to support each other. At our women's network, women in all kinds of positions join forces to actively tackle the issues that matter. We have set clear goals like reaching gender parity, conquering bias, closing the gender pay gap, and supporting women in following their careers. Because you will only be able to bring about change if you have clear objectives in mind. We know that we still have a way to go, but we are actively looking for solutions so that we can pave the way for the women that will come after us.

But our women's network is so much more than that. It offers room for women to be seen and heard. Our network helps us not only overcome obstacles together, but also allows us to celebrate each other success and push each other in following our dreams. And to be honest, I think that has the most important influence of all.  

Her advice for young talents

What’s the best piece of advice that you have been given?

Janne: Growing up, I was very lucky to have parents cheering me on in everything I do. They told me that I can become whatever I want and never set any limitations. They taught me not be afraid when it comes to taking over responsibility and speaking up. It is important to encourage children to share their opinion and use their voice. Especially for us women, our voices are the most powerful thing we have when it comes to making a difference.

With regard specifically to my career, however, the most important piece of advice I have ever received was from a very successful businesswoman. She told me: Do what you think is best for yourself. Not what others think is the best for you. But what you think is best. Don’t listen to others that try to tell you what you are doing is wrong. If it works for you, you are on the right path and that you don’t need to explain it to anyone else. As a woman that had been criticized regarding my career decisions, this has really stuck with me since.

And with that in mind, what advice would you give other women?

Janne: Now this is especially for younger women just starting their careers.

  1. Never be afraid of doing what you like to do. Choose a job that you are passionate about. And don’t think you have to have everything the job description tells you. Your attitude and energy are so much more important. And that will really bring you a long way.
  2. Never say no to an opportunity. Even if it might be scary at first, it usually turns into something great. When others give you an opportunity that means they believe in you. So, you should believe in yourself as well.
  3. Once you have earned your respect, start influencing your surroundings. Take your place at the table, speak up and make your voice heard, ignore unuseful comments and truly focus on what drives the business. Make yourself valuable – make a difference.