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What exactly is an inclusive company? A study

Published on :
14 Sep 2023
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Inclusion is still a vague concept for many companies and employees. Is it possible to claim to be an "inclusive company" simply by applying legislation on non-discrimination and equal treatment? While this is a first step, we can't say it's enough.

Being an inclusive company means going further than the legal framework. Some organizations are already fully committed, such as L'Oréal, Canal+, Orange, Salesforces and Octo Technology. How have these organizations become inclusive businesses? What actions and practices have they put in place? Survey.

You can't become an inclusive company without wanting to

It's no secret that diversity and inclusion are all the rage. To attract talent, some departments are playing this card by imposing "good practices" such as a course to raise awareness of discriminatory behavior, often in the form of snack content and with a top-down logic.

However, this is not enough to claim to be an inclusive company or to strive towards this goal. The reason? The subject of inclusion needs to be embodied by management on a daily basis, and accompanied by positive results. This means that the company must want to make a lasting commitment to inclusion, and not do it "just" to attract talent and improve its brand image.

Being an inclusive company therefore starts with a clear commitment on the part of management to reduce discrimination and offer every employee, whatever their gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability, a working environment conducive to fulfillment and development. In other words, in an inclusive organization, no employee should have to make extra efforts on account of his or her difference in order to be integrated, develop and flourish.

That said, how do you actually recognize an inclusive organization?

In practical terms, the communities of practice bring together employees who wish to get involved in the subject of inclusion. Among the initiatives taken by the community is the "inclusion and stereotyping" training course, tailor-made by an organization and now included in the compulsory induction course.

The community has also set up a series of 3-weekly meetings in the form of workshops and webinars, where participants come together to discuss a specific topic. The aim? Raise awareness, share and innovate among peers.

An inclusive company trains managers in inclusion

What managers say must be followed up with action and practice. As the person who implements the company's strategy and the main contact for employees, the manager has a role to play.

But how can we really be an inclusive company if managers aren't aware of their cognitive biases and the stereotypes at play within their teams? How can we be an inclusive company if managers don't know how to react to discrimination in the workplace? The fact is, inclusive management can't be improvised. To give N+1s the keys and set an example for employees, they need to be supported individually and collectively on the subject.

In addition to training and awareness-raising campaigns, individual and personalized coaching is a relevant solution. This technique has the advantage of taking into account the context, preconceived ideas and human skills of the manager. Coaching thus provides an individualized response and enables the N+1 to gain perspective and develop the soft skills needed to become an inclusive manager.

An inclusive company makes bold decisions and sets bold goals

Integrating as many women as men into management teams within the next 5 years, introducing menstrual leave, extending paternity leave, creating the position of Chief Equality Officer, working with disadvantaged young people... These are just a few of the bold initiatives that make a company a committed and inclusive organization.

For example, Salesforce has set up employee groups called "Equality groups'', whose aim is to build confidence among employees, whatever their origin, age, gender, religion, etc. Abilityforce is an example of this. Abilityforce, for example, is a group dedicated to promoting the talents of people with disabilities. Genforce is another group representing all generations to combat age discrimination.

In another example, since 2022 the Sanofi group has been offering 14 weeks' 100% paid parental leave to all its employees worldwide to guarantee equality in the workplace.

Finally, the L'Oréal group, already strongly committed to inclusion, has hit the mark with initiatives such as the creation of the Escuela de Excelencia Industrial in Spain. This training program aims to improve the employability of people at risk of exclusion (people over 50 with long-term unemployment, ethnic minorities, immigrants, etc.).

An inclusive company adopts a skills-based recruitment policy

When it comes to recruitment, the figures are not good:

  • On average, applicants whose identity suggests North African origin are 31.5% less likely to be contacted by recruiters than those with a first and last name of French origin.

  • 27% of disabled people surveyed said they had been the victim of inappropriate comments during interviews.

An inclusive company takes the lead in reducing inequalities of treatment right from the recruitment phase. How do we do this? By implementing a structured process based exclusively on the candidate's skills and potential. To this end, recruiters must have a set of questions to ask candidates, whatever their origin, sex or religion, as well as an interview report including an objective evaluation grid. In this way, value judgments are avoided.

Other initiatives reflect an inclusive recruitment policy. These include communication campaigns on social networks to attract as many female applicants as possible. Or objectives such as recruiting X profiles from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the community in which the company operates.

In conclusion, being an inclusive company depends on the expressed will of its managers. More than just a few actions here and there, it's above all a state of mind and a corporate culture that's needed to make inclusion part of the company's DNA!

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