2021 International Women's Day - Podcast (part2)
Hello, this is Isabelle Pavelic, Human Resources Director of Veolia Water Technologies. Last time, you heard Rana, CFO of VWT Middle East, Brandy, Sales Manager at AnoxKaldnes, VWT Sweden, Fabiano, Project Execution Director in VWT LATAM, Brasil and Benoit Gagné, CEO of VWT Canada. We had a discussion about the meaning of the IWD and what it means being a woman or a man at work. In this part, you’ll discover the actions that have been put in place within our company and the challenge to improve gender diversity Coming back to our BUs, what actions have been put in place in your BUs, in your area, with a view to achieve equality between men and women? Who wants to begin? I can start. I was talking last.This is Brandy and just to remind you,
as Isabelle said, I work for AnoxKaldnes which is located in Sweden and it is a subsidiary of Veolia Water Technologies. The BU where I work is roughly 50% women. The management team is made of six people, and five of those are women. I manage the Sales & Process team and there we are also 50% men and 50% women. You have to share your recipe! -Yes! -Fabiano? In another context? -Yes actually I think that here in Latin America we haven’t done so much in terms of fighting for this equality. But I think it's something that’s happening naturally because, as I’ve said, in Latin America, culturally speaking, I think that the difference is still very huge, but fortunately, within VWT Latin America Business Units it’s not happened. So if we take the example,
I think it is something around 32% of all the management or leadership positions available are held by women; which is quite good. And some of the main, I would say that the main top management positions, including the CEO position, are held by women, which is quite good. And it is good because it looks to me that the company is going in the right direction, despite the fact that the region is not so OK in that regard. But I think that we can improve a lot within the company. -Thank you Fabiano. Benoît? Yes, in Canada in fact, we have roughly 25% of women I would say. And I’ve looked at it and it is stable: since the last five or eight years we are ranging between 24%, 28%, 25%. I know that 15 years ago it was maybe
half of that. What is interesting is that in almost each department, when I was looking at it more closely i would say and in each department closely I would say, we have a woman, OK? Which is interesting and knowing that we have a workshop, OK? So we have a shop, and I would say a workshop, it’s a men's work, but we have women. Women welders, we have women working with us too. So how to increase? That is really to try to, you know, that’s a challenge that we have, to get the resumes, get the job because as i would tell you honestly uh with transparency, if we have equal competence between a man and a woman, we would have a tendency to hire a woman. Because we want to increase that percentage. and we think that they are bringing let’s say, something that is a bit different than a man.
I mean personality wise. Rana? Do you think it is the same between your area and region? I have the figures of lebanon so i will talk Lebanon, so I will talk about these percentages because I am based in Lebanon. Women represent 21% of the workforce and nine percent of the managers and i can say that lebanon has the highest number compared to the others in the region. So i think we need to make some efforts to increase the percentage of the of the woman in the workforce. -okay thank you so much
we we can see that the reality is quite diverse, in function of the area and of the geographical area but also the content area. And on the other hand, it is clear that there is increasing pressure to make our businesses as diverse as our society is, which makes sense for me. And yet the percentage of a women in managerial position is is still to be improved. At the Veolia level, there is a clear and a strong desire to appoint women to management positions. And
as Benoit mentioned, at the same level of skills and competencies, the choice, in this period would be to to hire a woman in order to balance our figures. And for the Veolia we have the target to to have 25 percent of managerial position filled by women. I have some figures about the water utilities to share with you: in water utilities the benchmark is a 18.7% of women in the employees and in a managerial position this figure is 21.5 percent. Today at VWT, women represent 22.8%
of our workforce and 24.6 percent of managers. We still have to work to explain this, don't you think Fabiano? -Well, Isabelle as i said already in my region in Latin America, particularly in Veolia you are a bit ahead, a bit above the average figures that you’ve just mentioned. But we still have a long way ahead of us in order to improve those figures. So, and I think that talking of what Benoît has just said, so regarding the skills and the competencies, I think that one of the things that we have to do also to improve that is to make sure that the performance indicators and the trainings and everything are applied in the same level for both men and women. Just because I think that by doing that, we will not give room to subjectivity in terms of performances. I think
this is quite important and I don’t know exactly how it works in the other BUs but here in brazil so we don't have any differentiation when it comes to performance indicators or opportunities and training which is key, in my opinion, for ensuring that people regardless to gender or any another sort of diversity, they will be assessed on a different way. That's an important thing so and the other thing i think is that i think it's also part of the local culture so i think we still haven't got, we still haven't seen, too many women interested in scientific studies, engineering careers and so on I think it's something cultural that we we have to address in the Latin America region. For example, you know, it's so it's like people still keep saying, here in Brazil for example: Ah this is something, this is a women's thing or this is a man's thing so and there is no men and women thing. there are things and that should be applied and should be be done by both men and women or regardless any diversity we are talking about. Well that's it i think that as i said, summarizing in terms of VWT Latin America; we are a bit above the average compared to the region, culturally speaking, which is good but there is still a lot to do, a lot to do. okay thank you thank you Fabiano. Brandy, do you think that we have to
push more for women in management positions? do we have to get some quotas? what is your opinion about that yeah i mean i think that both both Fabiano and Benoit made really good points that diversity does us a lot of good as a whole organization, righ,t we're a multinational organization. It means we're all over the world, and of course we have challenges with gender in certain parts of we where we work. But there's a lot of value with diversity identity. I didn't even mention before when i was giving the statistics about Anoxkaldnes, we're also very diverse culturally. Just in my team we have people from five different countries, in my small team of eight people.
So diversity really brings a lot of value, not only just on gender.But I think we also need to remember that, i mean we talk a lot about getting women into this the technical pool, or the pool as Benoit mentioned, getting women into these technical fields but when we talk about getting women into management positions of Veolia, the immediate need is not so necessay on the technical side but about developing them from a business management standpoint, making sure that our younger women in roles are also getting the necessary development they need in terms of business management and growth potential with doing that kind of work as well. And then i just think that my last comment on this is that, you know, as a big multinational organization of course we need to have kpis, we need to set goals for ourselves but we also shouldn't be too quick to just set some goals and then reach them and tap ourselves on the back and oh look we've done such a good job: we need to continue to challenge ourselves to to do even better. -Thank you so much Brandy Don't you think that to be able to get more women in managerial position means also to have some levels, some some pipelines and that for women to be recognized at this management position, they should have an experience and a success in their experience? That that means that we have to work on the pipeline where we can help our young woman to go on and to improve and to grow with the company.
So what kind of action could we identify at the level of VWT or at the level of your BU (Business Unit) to improve this gender diversity? Once again, not only in terms of numbers but in terms of management position. Maybe there’re probably 2 areas. The first one is probably to promote more the women we have in our BU.
I don’t think we do that. Because when we do ECHOS and we talk about High Potentials and so on i think we need, it will be good to highlightwomen, is there a woman in your organization that maybe it's starting or is a new engineer whatever and even though someone has 1 year of experience or 10 years, i think we need to highlight that, I think it's something we could do more internally. I would say externally to fill the pipeline i was looking at it and i saw that more and more universities give scholarship focused on women okay scholarship and i'm going back to my old university polytechnic school and i saw on the website and i looke they they were doing something interesting they said 40 women 40 weeks and that university what they offer a series of portraits honoring their professors and teachers who have careers in engineering. Why not doing the same? We have a lot of women, we have women in the organization why not select one of them and and be inspired by them to honor them by doing a portrait or whatever that's something that we can do, we can give scholarship to university too, to highlight that we are hiring because recruitment is still a challenge even though it's a man or a woman in our area you see? -yeah yeah thank you. I know that it has been done in some part of the world, we will come back also on the way to convince young people, young student to to go to scientist studies and how we can help for that but i think that yes this is definitely a good idea. I think also what you share here also is a way of what has been done already today so perhaps this kind of mentoring or something like that. Rana, would
would you like to share with us about that? -yes sure i think you were just mentioning uh mentoring yes i think putting mentoring in place would help a lot because i think women in their mind think that just by working hard it will be enough to be seen by top management and get the proper promotion and alone without making any effort but personally i think this is wrong and we are in a system that relies a lot on self-promotion so mentoring could mentoring and if possible by mail would could help them it could help a lot why by men because they have the way to to promote themselves not too much not too much i think we are all convinced that then yes diversity is good for business but just because life is diverse so we just have to be adapted with the with the society and society is diverse so we do not have any choice at the end so we have to push a little bit even if we don't all agree or with cappy eyes or quotas i that means that we are all have some effort to do in terms of showing the example sharing and your right mentoring but i wanted to to ask you don't you think that there is this kind of uh of job about monitoring or about the fact to to to give confidence actually to uh to those who are not not enough confidence or to to promote as you said um uh don't you think it is the role of each managers today absolutely absolutely and and not only that sometimes if you find out and i have an example i won't say the name but i have an example with the we had to change the uh a manager left the company and we had to promote someone internally and for unfortunately it's not the a woman that uh was appointed at that position so what we did what i did i i i talked to the other managers and i said you know what probably what we need to do for for her is that we're gonna we're gonna try to um uh move her from another department to give her more tools maybe she's already uh capped at that on that position and if we move her from another department she gonna be let's say more i don't know it's gonna give her more tools to grow in the company okay so we need to think about that too and earlier when i said when it's a equal resume or competencies it's difficult to reach that equality okay but even though it's not equal you need to think about not the short term but the midterm the long term period then you need to think about the growth potential of the person and sometimes managers gonna think short term they need to change their mind to change their mind and say okay maybe that person doesn't have all the asset that we want but potentially she will have it and because of that we're gonna give her the chance and it's the same for the young people it's the same uh thinking in my mind yes so there is a managerial role uh in order to uh to help uh to this confidence and to help to promote this will not be and if we consider what juana told us just before also to uh not to wonder would i be able and so if the manager is proposing something a promotion to a woman that means that she is able to so to to work on these doubts actually um coming back to our our uh profession we are rather a technical profession uh our population is largely composed of engineers uh and um and as it has been already said um sometimes it's difficult to attract a young woman in this area very partners and vwt partners with girls on the move association which aims to encourage women to take up carers in engineering in scientific education and for example there are some sponsors within our employees who are going to schools in order to uh to present their job in order to to prove they are available and to show and to prove how they could be held by a woman and to encourage young young girl students to um to to go away in in the scientific studies what do you think what kind of action uh could be more put in place to enhance the value of the value of of scientific studies for uh for young girls i i don't know everywhere but i know that in france for instance female students in engineering school are only are less than 30 percent so so how can we do to to to boost this fabiano could you help us in this yeah sure sure as well i think the first thing that should be done i think that it should start with kids because we have to i think that we have to incentivize kids girls and boys uh to to to be more interested in in scientific studies so i remember i was a kid so it was really challenging to to to to look for a scientific concern so i was also interested in so but i i i didn't see for example girls uh going the same direction so and i choose i still think that it's not happening maybe uh with the the the the the amount of people that we would like that to be happening but i think something that should start doing with the kids incentivizing them in scientific schools at school at both school and home as well so and i think that in terms of uh viola i think that we that example that you have about the foundation that you you have partnership with i think that's something quite important that we should do also in all regions so to to create this partnership with with universities and with the scientific studies organizations and also in some job fermentation bodies to try to capture as much as we can these young girls and to show them that uh that scientific studies is not a it's not that bad actually it's quite good so and there is a lot of opportunities when they could they can develop themselves and they can have a very good career you know because i think i think that viola has an advantage because i think viola naturally attracts people because viola uh cares of the environment so this is a this is a red one positive thing but we have also to to try to capture people by attracting them in terms of career by showing them that they have opportunities to grow in their lives in their career and it applies for both uh women and women and girls and boys but uh and it also relates to something that we were discussing which is the pipeline so i think that in order to reach the biggest amount of uh women uh taking management positions we have to start with the pipeline so because that and it goes through the pipeline and then through uh taking technical positions and then after that leadership positions and so on so it's uh it's a long-term uh thing and we you and we have to to work on that sorry so the definitively that means that we have to continue to promote diversity but to continue to invite women colleagues to share their experience to demonstrate through example uh that the opportunities are equal or all or everything what you show and what you said all of you prove that uh yes we have to continue to make testimonies and sure yeah and we have we have some powerful tools for that isabel and sorry uh like linkaging and any other social media to to to to community to communicate that to the market yeah definitely yeah there is another thing i've seen in vwt is that sometimes very often we have some young women engineer and then at one moment they decided to to go to a more transversal and less technical position how do you think we could uh prevent for that or what what is what is your opinion about that right now perhaps do you have a uh an id because you are not on a technical function but on a yes in fact i think we should start by understanding why they want to move from those technical positions is it because they feel that they don't have a chance to reach the top in in this extremely male uh dominated environment is it because we are not taking into consideration or implementing their technical ideas so once we know why they what is behind their will with their desire to move then it will be easy to find solution just maybe by giving them visibility by working on high impact projects or by preventing it providing mentorship with a clear career path how how they will move in the within these technical departments i think we can uh retain them more yeah and i i'm happy to to tell you that vegeta will launch very soon a mental ring action first for the at a very high level but uh i think it would be interesting to see how it works and to uh to to implement it in bwt if you are if we have some some people either as mentor rather as as way i don't know how to say that who are willing to to to participate to this kind of operation brandy could you tell us your point of view on the fact that uh or how to prevent women from moving to more transversal and less technical position do you have an id or a proposal yeah i also think it's tricky but i i definitely agree with uh with what reyna had said from my experience we don't have a a real difficult time to actually to recruit women into lab or or plant type positions there seems to be a lot of women interested in those type of positions but then i'm not sure that within a big organization like violia they are getting the visibility that they need to move on up in into higher positions or if they're getting the development that they need to go on into these these higher positions as rayna said we are still in a very male dominated industry and in a male-dominated organization and even benoit highlighted earlier are we making sure that they're getting the visibility are we actually seeing these women for the value that they're bringing not just to their position but to the potential they could bring to the organization so i really think it's it's about visibility and and making sure that they have access to the development and training that they need thank you thank you so much brendy This second part was very intense, we still have work to do but we want to see change. Let's meet again soon for the last part where we will focus on our guests' personal action.