The Wendel Group’s organization has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. On March 16, 2020, i.e. when the French government announced lockdown measures, the Executive Board decided to close all of the Group’s offices, as the health of employees and their families is our top priority. A continuity plan was immediately deployed, with delegations of power at every level.
Thanks to the efforts of all employees and the modernization of the digital tools we already had in place, we were able to maintain our business activity. In short, we did everything we could to enable each person to work from home under the most favorable conditions (computer equipment, IT help line, etc.). As a result, the investment team has been available to portfolio companies to monitor their respective situations and support them when necessary in this unprecedented crisis. Wendel’s corporate team tracks Wendel’s business activity and made it possible for us to publish our 2019 results, the Universal Registration Document and the results of the first quarter of 2020 in these entirely unfamiliar circumstances.
Whereas we usually go on physical roadshows to see our investors and analysts, this year we held those meetings by video-conference, because the Executive Board felt it was imperative for us to maintain dialogue with the financial community, particularly in this difficult time. In addition, a meeting with the members of Wendel’s Shareholders Advisory Committee is scheduled for the end of June to continue the work on which they have been consulted.
Internally, the well-being of employees is being safeguarded in many ways. A Covid-19 dedicated unit has been created to respond to questions from employees and inform them about specific measures, such as remote medical visits, psychological help, child daycare in the event of illness, etc. Every day, the Executive Board speaks with the Group Vice-President, the General Secretariat, the Human Resources department and the Sustainable Development department to ensure good coordination and follow-up.
Also in line with this effort to protect everyone’s well-being, all managers were asked to adopt their managerial style so as to combat feelings of isolation and maintain a positive work environment. Holding daily video-conferences has been one way of doing this. At the same time, internal workshops and activities, including cultural events organized in partnership with the Centre Pompidou-Metz, have been offered to foster cohesion among employees.
Finally, the members of the Executive Board, André François-Poncet and David Darmon, know that professional training is of strategic importance for attracting and preserving the talented individuals who comprise Wendel. For this reason, we have stepped up implementation of the employee training program, with online modules for all employees. They realized that this was a good time for developing the interpersonal and professional skills of the Group’s employees.
Since June 2, the Group’s offices have been reopened to allow those who wish to return to the office to do so. We have done this in accordance with applicable health measures, and it was Bureau Veritas that made it possible. As part of “Restart your business with BV”, the company evaluated Wendel’s Paris premises to determine if they met the Covid-19 risk prevention criteria. As a result, various organizational procedures were implemented to ensure everyone’s safety. As soon as public health conditions permit, all employees will return to their normal work environment.
In addition, also in partnership with Bureau Veritas, we provided employees with an e-learning module called “Protecting against Covid-19” to raise awareness about taking precautions against infection in the workplace.
All of these measures were implemented in order to enable all of our staff to get through these uncharted waters without any mishaps and to ensure that Wendel could continue to pursue its business activities smoothly.