International Women’s Day on 8 March symbolises the fight for human rights, including equal career opportunities for men and women. Strong gender equality is part of Civinity’s strategic social objectives as set out in its Sustainability strategy for 2023-2025, which the company intends to present in the near future. “Civinity” is pleased that the active involvement of women in leadership positions is not only a goal for the future, but also a practice that has been in place for some time now in the company’s Lithuanian and international offices.
Experience is the key to success
Vilija Zapalskienė, Director of “Civinity LT” and “Civinity Solutions”, says that engineering is a technical field, so most of the heads of departments here are men, while the cleaning departments are headed by women. However, as V. Zapalskienė, having more than 15 years of management experience under her belt, says she stands firmly on her feet in this challenging field:
“Not everyone can be a manager, but it’s not about gender, but about skills, business experience and certain personality traits. Results simply have to be achieved, and it is irrelevant who does it – man or woman. Moreover, as it is written in the acknowledgements I received from our shareholders, “Respect is not bought – it is earned”.
It is respect, says V. Zapalskienė, that is one of the cornerstones of a manager’s success, which can be earned through experience, sincerity and an appropriate leadership style.
“Young people sometimes ask me how they can earn respect in the team, and I always tell them it’s only through their own knowledge,” she says. She adds that having a strong team in each area is crucial, as is having faith and trust in it, and that the way to success is through transparency and clear objectives.
“When the truth is told, people believe in you and go with you to the end, no matter what. You have to be a leader, a captain of the ship – you have to take care of your employees, to look at what everyone does for a living, to understand and sympathise when things go wrong, and sometimes to teach, to share experiences. Good sense of humour also helps. Finally, you need to know how to listen and accept feedback. The biggest compliment for me is that my team has been constant for a long time and has stayed with me, whether we are facing easier or harder times,” says V. Zapalskienė.
Challenges motivate, not scare
Meanwhile, a particularly female team led by Inna Gladčenko makes up the Latvian branch of “Civinity Solutions”. She runs a company that provides maintenance services for commercial and public buildings, including installation, maintenance and repair of cleaning and engineering systems. In this job, she says, no day is the same as yesterday, with many different problems to be solved at the same time, and very quickly. It’s also important to constantly feel and understand what’s going on within the team, in the market and in the world at large.
“Being a female leader in such an industry means setting and maintaining high standards – being strong, smart, assertive, while at the same time keeping in mind a woman’s innate natural charm to achieve her goals. Millions of women around the world today are training for professions that were once the preserve of men and are successfully leading teams. Women are able to show that they can achieve as much and be as successful as men,” says I. Gladčenko, who loves the lack of routine and the variety of tasks in her work the most. – Leadership for me is about setting the best example for my team, inspiring others, learning how to be the most effective in any situation, and not giving up when things get tough.”
Believe and trust
Virgeda Jackaitė, who has contributed to the company’s development, is a Director of “Civinity Engineering UK”, and has been in charge of the unit since 2020, when the company entered the UK market. Previously, V. Jackaitė worked in FinTech, which, like the construction sector, was male-dominated.
“Men and women have different qualities that are important in business. Men are less emotion-driven and more likely to make decisions quickly, while women are more likely to be detail-oriented and to connect more closely with their colleagues. I think there is always a need for a mix, which is what we have at the moment in “Civinity” group. We have excellent female executives – Vilija Zapalskienė, Director of “Civinity Lietuva”, Oksana Petrošienė, Head of Design at “Civinity Engineering”, and the management team in Latvia in general is mainly made up of women – Inna Gladčenko, Head of “Civinity Solutions”, Inese Volodina, Head of Legal department at “Civinity Solutions” and Nora Birkena, Head of Residential Management and Sales at “Civinity Namai”.
As far as management is concerned, I think it all depends on how one feels about one’s own position. The most important thing is to have confidence in yourself and your team, to be clear about what you’re doing, but if you don’t have that confidence, it can be more difficult,” says the manager.
V. Jackaitė also adds that there is a sense of mutual support within the group. For example, “Civinity Engineering” offers maintenance services to the “Civinity Solutions” team in Lithuania once the installation is complete, and if they are short of workers themselves, they can always turn to their colleagues at the “Valandinis” company. According to the manager, this community was further strengthened when everyone came together in the new office in Vilnius.
“Without the allocation of responsibilities and the belief that the team can deliver, a manager is a person in a high position, but not a leader who will deliver high results. I am convinced that quality relationships and teamwork can do much more than just one person”, says V. Jackaitė.