Diver­sity Is Our Her­itage And Our Fu­ture

Cas­par Herzberg, Mid­dle East and Africa Pres­i­dent for Sch­nei­der Elec­tric, talks about the com­pany’s con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to gen­der equal­ity.

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Gen­der equal­ity is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to our com­mon goal of a sus­tain­able fu­ture. At a time when the planet faces ex­is­ten­tial chal­lenges from cli­mate change, we need to re­think our re­la­tion­ship with en­ergy. Em­pow­er­ing women to con­trib­ute their best ideas on en­ergy man­age­ment and en­gi­neer­ing helps us bring dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives to the ta­ble. Any ob­sta­cles that pre­vent women from mak­ing their mark can’t be ig­nored.

Gen­der par­ity also makes busi­ness sense, pure and sim­ple. A re­cent study by the Peterson In­sti­tute and EY shows a sig­nif­i­cant cor­re­la­tion be­tween women in lead­er­ship and com­pany prof­itabil­ity. Com­pa­nies with at least 30% fe­male lead­ers had net profit mar­gins up to 6% higher than com­pa­nies with no women in se­nior ranks. Diver­sity and in­clu­sion is a pow­er­ful driver, when it comes to busi­ness and tech in­no­va­tion, en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit and team­work. Busi­nesses that don’t fos­ter it in­evitably lose out.

This is why every Sch­nei­der Elec­tric coun­try pres­i­dent across the globe has made a per­sonal com­mit­ment to the Women’s Em­pow­er­ment Prin­ci­ples (WEPs). We are the first multi­na­tional com­pany to achieve this unan­i­mous com­mit­ment from our coun­try lead­ers and our global lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing our CEO.

The WEPs are seven steps that were de­signed by UN Women and the UN Global Com­pact to em­power women in the mar­ket­place, work­place and com­mu­nity. We be­lieve they are a roadmap to en­abling women to achieve their full po­ten­tial, but busi­nesses must do their part to adopt them. Un­der the WEPs, we’ll con­tinue to pur­sue gen­der equal­ity in our work­place while also pro­mot­ing em­pow­er­ment and ad­vo­cacy in the mar­kets where we do busi­ness.

The first prin­ci­ple states that lead­er­ship pro­motes gen­der equal­ity. Lead­ers can set an ex­am­ple, and every Sch­nei­der Elec­tric com­pany pres­i­dent is pro­mot­ing change across their re­gional mar­ket and put­ting poli­cies into ac­tion that will trans­form the face of our com­pany. The process starts with us, but it won’t end there.

We at Sch­nei­der have al­ways been con­vinced that a gen­der-bal­anced and di­verse work­force will per­form bet­ter than a ho­moge­nous one. It is no sur­prise to me that a re­cent McKin­sey & Com­pany re­port shows a clear cor­re­la­tion be­tween gen­der diver­sity and com­pany per­for­mance. Women speak bet­ter to women, who are de­ciders, key lead­ers of com­mu­ni­ties and in­flu­en­tial change agents in so­ci­ety.

Rec­og­niz­ing Women’s Em­pow­er­ment as a Cat­a­lyst for Busi­ness and Change

At Sch­nei­der, there are three ways we pur­sue our com­mit­ment to gen­der equal­ity around the world.

First, we pro­mote gen­der equal­ity at every level of our com­pany

When we started build­ing a more gen­der equal com­pany 16 years ago, women at Sch­nei­der Elec­tric rep­re­sented only 3% of our top 1,000 lead­ers. We weren’t the only com­pany in tech fac­ing this chal­lenge. Our busi­ness in par­tic­u­lar, at the cross­roads of en­ergy and au­to­ma­tion, has not his­tor­i­cally at­tracted many women. In the in­dus­trial sec­tors we serve, clos­ing the over­all global gen­der gap in the work­place at the cur­rent pace

is ex­pected to take far more than 100 years, ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum. This is un­ac­cept­able to us, and that’s why we’re tak­ing ac­tion.

Over the last 15 years, we have made great strides. Women now make up over 20% of our global lead­er­ship, and we’ve set a goal to make that at least 30% by the end of this year, 2020. By the end of 2018, nearly 40% of our new hires were women. As of 2019, 46% of our board mem­bers are women, and three of our five ma­jor P&L are led by fe­male ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers. We con­tinue to ad­vance ca­reer de­vel­op­ment for women through­out the em­ploy­ment life cy­cle, to en­sure that we em­power and ad­vance top fe­male tal­ent up to the high­est lev­els of our or­ga­ni­za­tion.

As fur­ther mo­ti­va­tion, we look be­yond our com­pany. We col­lab­o­rate with and com­pare our­selves to other com­pa­nies on com­mon goals and bench­marks. We also align our busi­ness pri­or­i­ties on shared stan­dards, in­clud­ing the 17 UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and have com­mit­ted our­selves to the HeForShe cam­paign, to ac­cel­er­ate our progress.

As part of our HeForShe com­mit­ments, we have de­ployed an eq­uity re­view process to en­sure equal pay for equal work. This pay eq­uity frame­work cov­ered 92% of our em­ploy­ees in 2018, and we plan for it to cover 95% in 2019. A year ago, we also de­ployed our in­clu­sive Global Fam­ily Leave Pol­icy and Flex­i­ble Work prin­ci­ples, pro­vid­ing fully paid parental, care, and be­reave­ment leave to our em­ploy­ees, re­gard­less of gen­der, to align with their unique life and work cir­cum­stances. Our am­bi­tion is to cover 100% of our em­ploy­ees with these prin­ci­ples by 2020.

Build­ing a cul­ture be­yond the num­bers

Gen­der equal­ity is not merely a ques­tion of in­creas­ing the num­ber of women in our work­force. It is also a ques­tion of cre­at­ing a work en­vi­ron­ment

where ev­ery­one feels in­cluded. We know that an em­pow­er­ing cul­ture is a crit­i­cal el­e­ment to at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing women. Our com­mit­ment is to change the cur­rent state of play for real diver­sity and in­clu­sion so that the women in our work­force can con­tinue to lead and move the in­dus­try for­ward. As an ex­am­ple, we are cur­rently in the process of rolling out im­mer­sive video con­fer­enc­ing for our Mid­dles East op­er­a­tions that will al­low fe­male em­ploy­ees who are young mothers to work from home, pro­vid­ing them with a lot more flex­i­bil­ity at a time when they most need it.

Cre­at­ing a more di­verse en­vi­ron­ment, where ev­ery­one en­joys work­ing to­gether, is not some­thing to de­clare: It is some­thing to build. At Sch­nei­der, our em­ploy­ees are en­gaged in our in­ter­nal hidden bias learn­ing pro­grams, which build aware­ness of these bi­ases and ed­u­cate em­ploy­ees on how we can be more in­clu­sive lead­ers, team mem­bers, and col­leagues. We want to build a com­mu­nity where we all un­der­stand our dif­fer­ences, sup­port each other, and feel we be­long. But this change doesn’t just stop within our of­fices.

Our sec­ond strat­egy is to ac­cel­er­ate gen­der equal­ity and en­ergy ac­cess glob­ally.

Women are key mem­bers of our so­ci­ety. Yet around the world, women and girls con­tinue to face dis­crim­i­na­tion. This bias de­prives them of their ba­sic rights to safety, au­ton­omy, and em­ploy­ment, and pro­hibits them from ac­cess­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that can ad­vance their qual­ity of life and well-be­ing.

It is part of our mis­sion at Sch­nei­der Elec­tric to pro­vide op­por­tu­nity and en­ergy ac­cess to ev­ery­one, ev­ery­where. To achieve this goal, we train women in elec­tric­ity and en­ergy man­age­ment in many coun­tries as part of our Ac­cess to En­ergy pro­gram. For ex­am­ple, in Egypt we work to in­te­grate women into the work­place through our Fe­male Tech­ni­cian Hir­ing Pro­gram.

Our ef­forts don’t end at job train­ing. We also pro­vide clean tech­nolo­gies, such as so­lar-pow­ered lights, mi­cro­grids, and other house­hold en­ergy so­lu­tions, to fam­i­lies across Africa and Asia. This sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­ity de­liv­ers re­sults. Women are key stake­hold­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties when it comes to en­ergy. They also stand to reap great ben­e­fits from im­prove­ments to their qual­ity of life, in­clud­ing ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, and bet­ter health out­comes. Our in­vest­ments in these re­gions also pro­vide fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits, re­sult in busi­ness and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, and help ad­dress poverty.

Third, we be­lieve all com­pa­nies should be mo­bi­lized when it comes to in­clu­sion.

As a mem­ber of the board of the UN Global Com­pact, our CEO knows that the busi­ness com­mu­nity can take col­lec­tive ac­tion to in­crease in­clu­sion and pro­vide greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tion, econ­omy, and ad­vance­ment for women ev­ery­where. An easy place to start is with a HeForShe com­mit­ment like ours.

We are still just at the be­gin­ning of the jour­ney for greater equal­ity at Sch­nei­der Elec­tric, and we are un­sat­is­fied with where we are now. One thing we know: Our com­pany is much stronger and a much more en­joy­able place to work be­cause we have grown more di­verse and in­clu­sive. We’re a melt­ing pot of gen­ders and na­tion­al­i­ties, learn­ing from each other and em­brac­ing dif­fer­ences.

We can go for­ward to­gether. As we cel­e­brate the many re­mark­able achieve­ments of women, we all must chal­lenge our­selves to be­come cat­a­lysts for gen­der equal­ity and call at every pos­si­ble oc­ca­sion for a more gen­der­bal­anced world.

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