For International Women's Day, we want to raise awareness around gender-based workplace bias and start a conversation on how we can create a work environment free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination where everyone can thrive. To do this, we interviewed female leaders about their experiences and how to break the bias.
Interview with Emmanuelle Le Merrer, VP Talent Acquisition & Talent Development, Schneider Electric France
What do you think business leaders can do to help break gender bias in the workplace?
Breaking the bias and fighting against stereotypes is a major ambition for all of us, from men to women, from leaders to employees. Of course, in a company, it is important to have a leadership team that models good behaviour and walks the talk, to inspire the whole organisation.
The leadership team can promote many types of actions, such as equity in recruitment, in promotion and in family policy. For example, they can promote a culture of respect, encouraging women to overcome bias and develop their potential and career.
Have you personally faced any gender bias in your career? How did you handle/deal with it?
Gender bias still exists, and that's why it is very important to raise awareness of it, starting with the youngest generation. I really think we have made huge progress over the past few years, but bias can still happen, and for both men and women.
It's said that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Sometimes, even when we're trying to be smart and nice, we can be biased, for example in our vocabulary or in the way we address a topic with someone. We need to be very humble about that and learn every day!
Are there any good initiatives at your business that support gender equality you would like to share?
I am very proud to be part of a company that has committed to a strong 2025 diversity ambition, through its "Schneider Sustainability Impact". We are committed to ensuring that 50% of jobs at entry-level, 40% of management jobs and 30% of our leadership jobs are taken by women, by 2025.
More generally, I would say that every initiative regarding gender equity is a good one.
Other initiatives include barometer to fight against sexism with a managerial kit to open the discussion, a women's mentoring program, a French women-in-tech network created in 2014 to break career gender stereotypes at school and inspire 13-18 years old… Every action matters!
What do you feel are the next steps in breaking gender bias? How can women support breaking the bias?
For me, it should be a daily routine to support breaking the bias, not a one-shot event, or an International Women's Day initiative. And for sure, we can all face bias, whatever our gender or age… it is not only a women's question. It is with many small things in our day-to-day life (professional but also personal) that we can make a big impact! The new generation is looking for a more balanced life, including work-life balance. This will probably help to raise the bar on this topic, as both men and women have to manage their personal / professional lives. #break the bias!
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