Diversity is more than just a human resource issue: it is a strategic issue, being at the heart of the development of a company’s performance and competitiveness. Why?
Because any company that desires to stay competitive in the 21st century needs to:
- attract and retain the new talents they will need today and in the coming years
- quickly understand evolutions in their market and be the first to find innovative solutions
- modulate their internal organisation in order to increase their efficiency
However, we all have preconceived ideas about ethnic origins, age, gender, handicap and the different characteristics of the people with whom we work. These ideas limit our choices, interfering with our ability to:
- objectively evaluate people’s skills and therefore choose the real talents
- to think outside of the box and therefore create new markets
- imagine new internal organisational models that could lead to greater efficiency
The challenge therefore is to develop a diversity of talents, a diversity in thinking and managing, a cognitive diversity.
1st case: break through the glass ceiling in a company renown internationally.
An internationally renown company, employing more than 7000 people in France, wishes to enable more women to access decision-making positions. The initiative, launched by the President, must examine the internal causes of the unbalance in the flow of promotions, and propose concrete solutions in order to change it. It is part of a goal of attracting and keeping talents, and developing the commercial, management and financial performance of the firm; issues for which women, whether already employed in the firm or future recruits, represent a potential for development.
- A package of strongly interconnected solutions designed to impact on different levels, including:
a) A company-wide business project
b) A training programme targeting women specifically, at key milestones in their career, aimed at enabling them to steer their own development
c) The implementation of a work-life balance chart
d) Measures making it possible to combine being a parent and having a career, as well as broadcasting through Intranet success stories already existing in the firm
e) An awareness-raising programme for the company’s decision-makers.
- A steering committee strongly engaged in the process, which continues to be involved in the implementation stage.
- The involvement of nearly 300 people, including the CEO and key decision-makers.
- A structural and cultural audit of the firm highlighting the key factors limiting women’s carrier.
- An internal radio program communicating to the whole company the different evolutions of the project through intranet.
How did we do it:
- An initial mandate from the CEO
- A steering committee made up of 10 senior executives (5 men, 5 women)
- 4 theme-based work groups, made up of men and women (for two groups) or only women (for the other two), all coming from different hierarchical levels, gathered for 3 monthly workshops.
- A qualitative study regarding almost 200 employees
- The designing of solutions by the very people who will need to implement them (the employees themselves) and who are the best experts of the situation
- A radio program on intranet insuring a communication spread out to all the employees