Orange, our Premium Partner, has been a thought leader in the field of corporate diversity and became the first group that received the Gender Equality European & International Standard (GEEIS) certification. We had the pleasure of interviewing our Board Member Line Pélissier, Diversity Director at Orange, who shared with us some of Orange’s best practices and benefits of diversity.
What inspired you to study finance and what made you make a career switch from working in finance to becoming Diversity Director?
Working in finance is interesting because it gives you a great overview of the company, its performance, and its future challenges. It is especially exciting in a big company like Orange, which has many different departments. If you work in finance there, you have the possibility of working in any of those departments and each department faces its own challenges.
Besides that, I really like management. I like talking to people about their hopes and careers. This is why after having worked in finance for many years, I thus took up a more HR role as Orange Finance Jobline Director, to develop and train our employees working in finance. And then I saw a job opening for the Head of Diversity position. Since I enjoy working with people, solving complex problems, and thinking about long term solutions, it seemed like a great opportunity.
Working in finance is interesting because
it gives you a great overview
of the company, its performance, and its future challenges.
Orange, proud Premium Member of the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL Europe), is deeply committed to supporting diversity and workplace equality. Could you share some of its best practices? Which concrete initiatives (flexible working practices, education across the organization to change the workplace culture…) have had the biggest impact so far?
At Orange, we have come up with a diversity policy that includes both individual and collective actions, as we believe that no single action can have a great impact. Instead, it is a sum of actions and initiatives that guarantees success. We have also developed indicators that help us measure our progress.
We believe especially in the importance of creating an environment where our employees have a better work-life balance and are given support and guidance in their professional growth. For example, we have developed teleworking policies and we now have more than 8000 teleworkers!
We have also launched a mentoring program for women with the goal of improving women’s access to managerial positions. On the top of that, we have been trying to address the pay gap issue by developing a unique methodology of data collection and analysis. In France, we even have a dedicated budget to close the pay gap in individual cases.
At Orange, we have come up with a diversity policy
that includes both individual and collective actions,
as we believe that no single action can have a great impact.
At Orange, we also do a lot to inspire young girls to join the tech sector. We want to make them explore the broad range of career choices that are available for them and we do so by sending our employees to local schools where they present their jobs and answer any questions girls might have.
We have also realized that women are less likely to apply for job positions that require purely technical skills. They do not see the purpose in having a job that is very technical and ’less meaningful’. It is thus important to develop that ’meaning’ and include it in the job description. When we adapt our job descriptions and explain what is at stake and how they can have an impact, we tend to attract more women!
Last but not least, despite gender diversity being one of the most important pillars, we also have programs promoting equal opportunities for people with disability, sexual minorities, and young people from underprivileged areas.
When we adapt our job descriptions and explain what is at stake
and how they can have an impact,
we tend to attract more women.
What role can male advocates and managers play in fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion?
Men also have an important role to play. If men experience the benefits of diversity in their own teams, they might be more likely to actively advocate for diversity. Studies show that diverse teams are more innovative and generally perform better as they reflect the diversity of customers and the diversity of challenges. And by diversity, I mean diversity in terms of age, gender, origin, or disability. It is crucial not only for men but for everyone in the company to understand the benefits of diversity and their own responsibility regarding the evolution of the company. Everyone needs to be on board if you want to bring about change!
Studies show that diverse teams are
more innovative and generally perform better
as they reflect the diversity
of customers and the diversity of challenges.
As part of its partnership with WIL Europe, nearly 40 Orange Talents integrated our Women Talent Pool programme since 2012. What are the benefits of this programme for your talents?
Our partnership with WIL Europe allows us to expose our participants to the true meaning of diversity. Indeed, the program is very international, giving our talents the opportunity to network with like-minded women coming from different countries and sectors. It also offers very high-quality training sessions.
Our partnership with WIL Europe allows us
to expose our participants to the true meaning of diversity.
What are the outcomes of these diversity initiatives and best practices?
Diversity is beneficial for creativity, efficiency, and innovation. Let me give you a very practical example. When the people developing a service reflect the diversity of their customers, they are more likely to come up with suitable solutions for their customers. Imagine you create a service designed by geeks only for geeks; it would certainly have an unfavourable impact on your market share. Or if you have a disabled person in your team, you are more likely to design appropriate services, and not only for the disabled, but also for the elderly.
I am proud to say that we currently have 36% of women in our company. This is quite encouraging for a tech company where the averages range around 20-25%.
Big companies like Orange are constantly being observed. Managing diversity well and having a positive brand image are crucial for attracting the best talent.
When the people developing a service reflect
the diversity of their customers,
they are more likely to come up with
suitable solutions for their customers.
To learn more about Line, have a look at her biography !