[Dossier] Diversity in business, where are we (really)?

[Dossier] Diversity in business, where are we (really)?

Mixité en entreprise, où en est-on (réellement) ?

You don't have to wait until March 8 every year to talk about professional equality and the place of women in companies.

When talking about this place, it is not uncommon to come across three types of reactions:

  • The first come from people who don't even know what we're talking about (“the glass ceiling of what? ”),
  • The second more skeptic/embittered who feel that we are doing too much and that we are only adding complexity to the business world (“we are already going to try not to be uberized, right? ”),
  • And finally the third who are convinced that (gender) diversity is a real opportunity for the company (“It's obvious”) but that it is still difficult, when you are a woman, to move forward as easily as a man in your career as a man. We will not make a distinction here between those who still hope to make progress and those who have thrown in the towel...

On March 8, we wanted to give a voice to these people who think that gender diversity is obvious and that it is good for the company. Not just any people: men. Men who commit themselves through their beliefs and actions to a more mixed and more egalitarian society and organizations. That's why we launched the #Icare4her campaign on YouTube and other social networks.

(Re) watch the videos on Youtube

It was an opportunity to explore with them the subject of gender diversity in companies in 2016, with figures in particular, and to note, like Françoise Gri, the “glass ceiling”, which hampers the professional progress of women, remains a reality in the world of work.”

Half-toned numbers

At Talentis, we work all year round on the The subject of gender diversity in business and female leadership. Research, documentation, studies (Gallup, Catalyst, Women Equity...), all the scientific material proves it: the most egalitarian companies are also the most efficient.

It is certain that mentalities have evolved positively over the last ten years, helped by political commitment (not to mention pressure), especially in France with the Copé-Zimmermann and Sauvadet laws which set a minimum threshold of 40% of women on boards of directors and supervisory boards large private and public companies by 2017.

So we looked for some recent and updated figures to verify that the positive evolution of mentalities in favor of professional diversity had correlated with a real increase in professional equality and here is what we found.

  1. The objective of reaching 40% of women directors in 2017 remains a major undertaking., in particular for unlisted companies (Editor's note: more than 500 employees and a turnover of over 50 million euros) far from the account, with only 14.2% of women sitting on their board. In 2015, 1500 companies were put on notice and 48 were sanctioned for non-compliance with parity goals imposed by law. While efforts to make the composition of councils more equal are real, 95% of these councils are chaired by men.
  2. Moreover, if wage differentials have actually narrowed, it is still necessary to Three months more to women to achieve the average annual earnings of men.
  3. Since May 3, two women have been the owners of a CAC 40 company, Sophie Bellon at the head of SODEXO and Isabelle Kocher at the head of ENGIE. Only one woman chairs a supervisory board of a CAC 40 company, it is Elisabeth Badinter at Publicis.
  4. Yes, there are better things. In companies listed on stock exchanges, the law was applied quite easily, especially for the 20% of women on the turnover that had to be achieved in 2014. Today, the CAC 40 has 34% women in the boards and the SBF120. Wage differences are decreasing more quickly in France than in Europe (from 16.9% to 15.2% between 2008 and 2013 in France compared to 17.3% to 16.4% in Europe)
  5. Globally, Grant Thornton International explains in its annual report that the proportion of women in an “executive” position is around 24%, two points more than last year's rate of 22%.

A very weak/slow progression of gender diversity in the company

Despite the commitments made, rates are rising very slowly, as shown in this diagram of Women in the Workplace

schéma de Women in the Workplace

Source Women in The Workplace

During our interventions and discussions with various stakeholders in the companies we support on the subject, we note how difficult it is for organizations and employees to get up and running. Why, for example, when there is a growing consensus on the positive impact of gender diversity in companies, have some decided to adopt a strategy to circumvent the Copé-Zimmermann law by, in particular, reducing the number of seats on their board in order to distort the proportion of women?

In this same study of Women in the Workplace, only 37% of women and 49% of men surveyed believe that gender diversity is a priority for their CEO, while 74% of CEOs surveyed have positioned themselves to put them as a priority on their company's strategic agenda. However, it has already been proven that without a clear commitment (real or lived) from top management, no action in favor of diversity is sustainable.

Why is it progressing anyway

Since March 21, a woman, Sophie Bellon, has been running a CAC 40 company, joined on May 3 by Isabelle Kocher. This is the first time since the index was created in 1987.

In 1977, 2/3 of Americans thought he was” much better for everyone if the man was the one who was successful outside while the woman took care of the house and the family ”. In 1994, 2/3 of Americans were opposed to this statement.

Business performance and talent attraction

Legal and regulatory obligations are not the only reasons that promote gender diversity in companies and elsewhere, thankfully! Businesses, aware that they can no longer afford to miss out on the talent pool that women represent, even though recruiting and retaining the best profiles has become a real battle.

As early as 2007, McKinsey wrote “gender diversity is a driver of performance in companies.” A shortage of 24 million active people is expected in 2040. If the employment rate for women reached that of men, this shortage would be only 3 million working people.

Moreover, studies all prove it, diversity is a real driver of performance. Companies that have no women on their boards underperform by an average of 18% and those that have more than 35% women among their managers generally grow by more than 60% more than those that remain male.

This allowed us to gradually come out of the apathy that the book is so well about.” Diversity, when men are committed ”. The more the subject is in the media, the more awareness of the costs associated with gender bias and the opportunities that diversity in business brings, the less possible it is to ignore the subject.

As Marie-Christine Maheas, co-author of Diversity, when men are committed :

“Diversity is a decisive vector of innovation, diversity makes it possible to attract and keep talent within the company, diversity facilitates transformation, diversity generates increased customer satisfaction and retention, and diversity is synonymous with greater ability to transform when necessary, and especially in times of crisis (...)”.

Citizen and media mobilization

Over the past 5 years, civil society, helped by the power of social networks and by the visibility of certain celebrities, has largely taken up the subject.

Examples include Emma Watson's commitment to the Nations #HeforShe initiative, Jennifer Lawrence's open letter in favor of equal pay in Hollywood, the #JamaisSansElles collective to develop greater parity in public demonstrations... It is true that culture is particularly unequal in terms of representation and rewards.

Part des femmes parmi les lauréat-e-s des grands prix culturels entre 2010 et 2015
Part des femmes parmi les expert-e-s/invité-e-s de certaines émissions d'information

Source: Ministry of Families, Children and Women's Rights

Going further to promote gender diversity in business

What can businesses do to go further?

Women's networks and HR managers took up the problem about ten years ago, but it is no longer enough now to promote gender diversity in companies. Diversity is now a question of inclusion, performance and finally, a real transformation project. Diversity requires a real change in corporate culture, which takes time, where women not only have the resources they need to develop their leadership, but are also convinced that they have as much chance as men to do so.

Even today, 43% of the women interviewed in the study Women in the Workplace (mentioned above) believe that they have fewer opportunities than men to advance in their careers. A majority of businesses offer career development programs, but many women and men are reluctant to use them for fear of being penalized.

What we can see today is that there are as many situations as there are businesses. The issue of diversity is multidimensional and cannot be addressed in the same way for all businesses. A recent article by McKinsey (eng) published in March 2016 suggests that each organization first identifies at which stage it loses its female talents the most.

To do this, McKinsey established three bottlenecks: recruitment (“unable to enter”), middle management (“stuck at the middle”) and management positions (“locked out of the top”). This allows organizations to focus on their own talent drain more strategically.

Breaking the parenting taboo

In the McKinsey Women in the Workplace study (cited above), 65% of female mothers interviewed said they refused to take a responsible role for fear of not being able to manage family and professional life in a balanced way. At the same time, more than 90% of women and men also think that taking longer parental leave will have a negative impact on their career. However, when Google increased maternity leave by six weeks, HR found that they had successfully reduced the erosion of female talent by 50%.

A study by the Center for Work and Family at Boston College conducted in 2011, 65% of fathers surveyed recognize that father and mother should take care of children equally. 72% of 18-29 year olds in the United States say that the best marriages are those in which men and women share careers and families.

But when family obligations clash with ambitions, it is women who mostly decide to slow down their advancement, either by leaving any activity or by opting for part-time work, even though 70% of them on average want to access positions of responsibility in their careers.

Temps partiel selon le sexe et la situation familiale en 2014

This is all the more “understandable” because with equal degrees, skills and jobs, women are paid less than men and are less represented in positions where flexibility is available., especially in terms of hours and places of work. Flexibility in working hours is at the top of the priorities for employed parents interviewed by the Observatory of Time Balance and Parenting in Companies (June 2015 barometer). The Observatory promotes good HR practices to companies in favor of employed parents. Some 500 companies, including Areva, Renault, Bouygues or Orange, have adopted the parenting charter.

Support to be implemented very early in the company

As we have seen, the public visibility of professional equality and gender diversity in companies has increased considerably in recent years. However, the numbers are changing very little and at a very low speed. At this rate, parity in business will only be achieved in 2095.

Continue to fight against stereotypes and unconscious biases in business

Like Google and its courses on “unconscious bias” or Randstad, which has trained more than 800 managers on the fight against stereotypes, it is important to lift the veil on the stereotypes that hold back women in companies. However, as Brigitte Laloupe, author of “Why women earn less than men” explains, it is from an early age that we should talk about these psychosocial mechanisms that hinder professional equality. According to Michel Ferrary, founder of the Skema Observatory for the Feminization of Businesses in the CAC40, “parents reproduce the sexual identity of jobs with their children: they will be surprised if their daughter wants to work in the automotive sector or construction (...)”.

Continuer à lutter contre les stéréotypes et les biais inconscients en entreprise

Diversity put to the test of Millennials

The question of diversity and diversity is in fact a question that undoubtedly needs to be asked even more. Especially because half of the people working in 2020 will be from Generation Y. In a study conducted by Deloitte, 83% of Millennials surveyed say they are more engaged when the corporate culture promotes inclusion and collaboration. These young professionals are the most diverse generation in history. Only 59% are Caucasians and 27% have parents or grandparents with an immigration background.

According to A PWC study, Millennial women are more ambitious and confident about their career development, 66% earn as much or more than their spouse and 53% make career opportunities the first attractive feature of a company.

At the same time, 71% of female Millennials surveyed say that diversity is a subject covered by organizations, but still feel that they will have fewer opportunities than men, in particular because 43% of them believe that employers are “male-biased”, and particularly in France, Ireland and Spain.

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to rethink the approach to gender diversity in companies, adapt it to definitions/concepts of diversity that have evolved without assuming that Millennials will not have (unconscious) stereotypes when recruiting or promoting a person. Especially since in the Deloitte study mentioned above, the Millennials interviewed define inclusion as a culture of connection that facilitates team spirit, collaboration and professional growth, and positively affects the company's business results, more than as an equal opportunity for women or men.

When it comes to gender diversity, the positions of Generation Y men are in fact very little ahead of the generations before. A Harvard Business Review article published in December 2014 (“Rethink what you “know” about high-achieving women”) showed that there should be no shortcuts when combining gender diversity and GenY. 50% of young Millennial men think that their career is more important than that of their spouse and 66% think that it is up to her to take care of children first.

The company of tomorrow at the service of diversity

Diversity is progressing in companies, it is undeniable, largely helped by citizen and media mobilization. However, from year to year, the efforts made tend to decrease, too focused on “female leadership” and probably not enough diversity, retention and development. However, these subjects are at the heart of tomorrow's companies, which will remain innovative, attract all talents and stay one step ahead of these competitors.

While all major companies are thinking about new management methods and forms of work adapted to younger generations that are more flexible, more mobile but also more demanding, it is urgent and crucial that they reinvent their approach to gender diversity, not because they risk being fined (this one is ridiculous because it is so small), but because they no longer have the luxury of depriving themselves of diverse skills and experiences to enrich their teams.

Summary of the most effective measures to advance gender diversity in companies

1) A clear and strong commitment on the part of top management and management

2) Raise awareness and fight against gender stereotypes that suggest that women have less ambition/availability etc...

3) Adopt a flexible approach to work and management that focuses on results rather than presenteeism

4) Support the youngest employees on these topics

5) Create spaces for words and reflections between collaborators of both sexes to discuss this subject.

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