Women in leadership at Kvadrat

The fifth goal of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. As part of that goal, the UN recognises that we must “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” Kvadrat believes in supporting and investing in women in leadership positions because inclusive leadership ensures equal access to resources and power, challenges preconceived gender stereotypes, and in terms of business, research shows that companies with more women on their boards perform significantly better.

As a company founded in Denmark, within our two boards and total number of employees, we follow the recommendations of the Danish Act of Gender Equality, which is a regulatory requirement for companies in Denmark. It states that gender equality is achieved when there is a gender distribution of 40/60% for either gender (so men or women can be 10% overrepresented to allow a certain level of flexibility in response to the labour market). At the moment, it is only legally required that a company reports the gender diversity of its Board of Directors and Senior Management levels. By setting a target of 50/50 target for gender equality in all management levels by 2025, Kvadrat goes beyond the regulation.

In 2023, we grew the share of women in middle management to 47%, an increase of 2,3% from 2022. We also improved the gender distribution of our Kvadrat A/S Board from 33% (2022) to 40% in 2023. The short-term goal for 2024 is to maintain this balance, and by 2025 we want to ensure that our management team (including middle and senior management) is equally represented by men and women. We are working towards our female leadership target by reducing gender biases in the hiring process of new employees and by limiting structural biases that hinder equal career progression such as the unequal absence attributed to parental leave. By continuing to encourage women in leadership roles, we will also build role models and mentors for the next generations at Kvadrat. 

The best example of female leadership at Kvadrat is Mette Bendix, Product Director and co-owner of Kvadrat.  In 2000, after 8 years of working as trainees at the company, Mette Bendix and Anders Byriel took over the management of Kvadrat from their fathers Erling Rasmussen and Poul Byriel, who had founded the business in 1968. As Product Director, Mette works with a team on the supply chain for all textile collections - from the product design and development, to sourcing, production, and quality assurance. Mette is also on the Board and part of Senior Management. Through her positions, Mette has helped to alter both the gender balance of leadership at Kvadrat, but also the balance of female business owners, offering an empowering image of women in business.   

What does female leadership mean to you?

Female leadership means the empowerment of women. This is important to me because it balances power structures within businesses and ensures that the perspectives and experiences of women are taken into account and valued in the decision-making process.

What part does gender play within the textile industry and have you seen any changes?

Traditionally, certain skills in the textile industry have been linked to a specific gender, but at Kvadrat we make try to make sure that there is a balance. For example, in the design and development phase of our textiles, we collaborate with a diverse group of designers and artists from all over the world, which translates to a diverse collection in terms of colour, structure, feel and look.

What impact does female leadership have at Kvadrat?

At Kvadrat, women make up 47% of our management positions. This leadership fosters an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed and ensures that we have a broader perspective on subjects in both our daily work and when taking strategic decisions.

What are leadership qualities that you admire?

I like all four of Kvadrat’s leadership qualities – ‘invent, execute, grow, engage’ - but I particularly like our value of 'grow', because I believe it is important to inspire our team to explore the possibilities for personal and professional development. We encourage employees to take on new challenges, acquire new knowledge, and develop their capabilities. This applies to all employees, even those in senior positions, as we are all on a journey of continuous learning.

What are you most proud of accomplishing at Kvadrat?

I am very proud to work with such strong teams of women across the different brands in our Kvadrat Group, to ensure that we produce high quality and high-performance products, which in turn guarantees that each product has a long lifetime.

Who is a female leader that you admire?

I admire the Danish politician and European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager for her courage and the way in which she effectively conveys her message. She has been instrumental in promoting fair competition, holding on to the European values and advocating consumer interests.

How do we encourage more women to take up leadership positions?

At Kvadrat we make sure that women have equal access to education, training and development opportunities, and we encourage, support and mentor women on this path. For example, our High Potential Programme has a 50% split between men and women.