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Gender parity at Wendel

Published : 08.03.2022
#Engagements

Wendel’s industrial past, its illustrious heritage, is at the root of all the attention it pays to health and safety in the workplace, which are major challenges for employee development.

More recently, gender issues have been added to previous ones. As a result, these three areas are among the four priorities that the Group has defined in its 2020-2023 ESG strategy.

Alexina Portal, Director of Human Resources since 2020, is in charge, along with the entire HR team, of implementing the actions that will support Wendel in achieving its ambitions.

As Wendel’s HR Director, you are in charge of matters relating to employee health and safety. What does this mean in practice?

 Alexina Portal: Whether we are talking about working conditions, psychosocial risks or work/life balance, all of these elements guarantee the long-term commitment of our teams. They are therefore the levers of our HR policy in terms of health and safety.

We recently revised our teleworking charter to offer employees who so wish more flexibility in the way they work. In parallel with this development, we stress the importance of employees’ right to disconnect. As far as vacations are concerned, we have put in place a set of rules designed to ensure that all employees are able to take full advantage of the annual rest periods they are entitled to, and which are necessary for their physical and mental well-being.

We also believe that the work-life balance depends on proper organization of family “logistics” for employees with children. Since 2010, Wendel has offered to finance daycare places for the first three years of a child’s life to employees who request them, and is also developing projects to support parenthood.

Thus, from an organizational point of view, Wendel offers its employees more flexibility in terms of working conditions, while maintaining its range of parental benefits, achieving a real synthesis between the possibility of taking responsibility for the accomplishment of one’s missions, and the possibility of fulfilling oneself in a framework that is not intrusive.

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How does Wendel approach parity?

A.P: The issue of parity, often wrongly summarized as simple gender balance, is in reality broader, and requires that we have a much more comprehensive view of the people who are part of our organization (be it their gender, age, career, etc.). In short, the key word that takes precedence over parity is equality.

In order to meet this ambition, numerous actions are implemented each year and monitored by key performance indicators:

Recruitment

Wendel décide et diffuse les règles et conditions de recrutement claires et en amont de tout processus de recrutement à l’intention des cabinets de recrutement et leur demande de signer un engagement en faveur du respect des règles d’égalité ou de non-discrimination. Par exemple, la fourchette de la rémunération afférente au poste offert est déterminée en amont de la recherche de candidats et de la diffusion de l’offre. Ainsi, seules les compétences et l’expérience du candidat retenu interviennent dans la fixation de la rémunération.

Training

Training contributes to the goal of equal treatment in career development. It is therefore an essential lever, in the context of a return to work following parental leave, to ensure this equality. When training courses are held, we take care to limit the amount of time spent traveling to each course and give employees the choice of enrolling in face-to-face or distance learning courses.

The company also undertakes to include clauses in tenders for training organizations that take into account family constraints and professional equality.

Compensation

The objective is to neutralize or reduce the impact of parenthood on actual compensation.

Parity is a priority for our Group; it is an issue that requires collective effort and ongoing commitment. This is why our company has signed the France Invest Gender Equality Charter, published in March 2020.

What was the impact of Covid-19 on occupational health?

A.P: This crisis proves to us every day how fundamental psychological or mental health is in the workplace. This is one of the major lessons of this period that all public and private organizations have experienced. Of course, this issue was not put aside by companies, but the pandemic acted as a catalyst: more than ever, it goes without saying that the company is also responsible for the well-being of its employees. At Wendel, this has resulted in increased vigilance in this area and support measures.

It is thanks to the very strong commitment of management that we were able to get through this crisis relatively unscathed. Listening, guidance, support, and work rhythms adapted to the circumstances were essential; these attitudes have left a sufficiently strong imprint that they have become a determining element of our corporate culture.

Finally, reverting to the ancient motto mens sana in corpore sano (“a healthy mind in a healthy body”) is the best approach, not only in the interest of Wendel’s employees, but also to ensure the company’s performance.