Having been with the company for over 10 years and held several leadership positions within HR during her time here, Valerie is passionate about making the workplace a more diverse and inclusive environment. Here she explains what Calderys is doing to promote diversity.
How important is diversity and inclusion to Calderys? And what value does it bring to the company?
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are of great importance to Calderys, and more largely Imerys, our parent company. Promoting D&I at all levels across the business is one of our key priorities. There are many types of diversity, but, at this stage, at Calderys, we have decided to focus a little more on diversity of gender and nationality.
Diversity is not only a question of ethics and state of mind, but it also brings more creativity and innovation within an organization, contributing to its performance. To support Diversity, the group launched last year a three-year plan – a focused program to create a workplace culture that makes the most of diversity. And Calderys is obviously part of this plan and actively contributing to it.
What are Calderys’ main figures on diversity? And what are its targets for future improvement?
The overall trend for nationalities is looking quite good at present within Calderys: it hovers around 50. Considering gender diversity, 13% of our people are women. We still need to progress, and we are strongly committed to doing what we can to improve the percentage of women in our workforce within the next few years.
The stats vary depending on seniority level, and this is where a lot of our attention will be focused.
When looking at the management team, we have four nationalities represented and 27% are women.
When looking at the level below, we have 23 nationalities represented but then only 14% of roles filled by women. We’re looking to improve this figure with a target of 17% by 2022 and we are also taking action to reinforce the representation of women in the other levels of the organization.
What is Calderys currently doing to create a more equal working environment?
First our SVP, Michel Cornelissen, is fully committed as a member of the Imerys’ D&I steering committee. And we have 11 employees acting as D&I Ambassadors, an internal body created to raise awareness of inclusion across the Group. We recently had an internal awareness campaign on gender diversity taking the opportunity of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in February, zero discrimination day and Women’s day in March to showcase some inspiring profiles and celebrate the achievements of our colleagues internally and externally.
We also have an e-learning path about D&I available on our internal learning platform. It includes material on unconscious bias, conscious collaboration and inclusion awareness. The course is mandatory for all our managers but all other employees are encouraged to take it.
Additionally, D&I is part of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, as well as our CSR policies.
Besides, we work on improving our promotion and female recruitment rating. This means for instance developing individual development plans to help them reach their full potential, but also during a recruitment, aiming to always have female candidates on shortlists where there are equal competency levels.
Considering your experience as a leader, how do you perceive the benefits of a diverse team?
The diversity of gender, race, culture and profile creates an environment that is stimulating and innovating, as the team is exposed to different ways of working and thinking.
Each exchange is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself and your own truth, to develop yourself, challenge your beliefs and find creative ways to develop innovative projects and solutions.
Diversity helps to develop respect, listening and understanding skills that are critical in relationships not only with our colleagues, but with all our stakeholders.
Our customers are diverse and if we want to understand and serve them well, we must reflect this diversity.
In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of building a diverse environment?
When you are working with diverse teams, you need to be able to include different points of view and these are often expressed in various ways. It is important that we don’t settle for our initial level of understanding, but instead really dig deep with different interlocutors to understand the message they are trying to get across.
It takes a high level of vigilance, dedication and time to understand and align everybody – but that is a small effort to gain the wealth of having a diverse team and environment.