Diversity and inclusion

Vanessa Lefranc, Director of Human Resources Development at Elior Group: “Diversity is a company project that concerns our 105,000 employees”

Resolutely committed to developing the diversity of its teams at all levels of the company, Elior has signed the United Nations Global Charter on Women's Empowerment Principles aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Elior has thus joined the community of more than 4,000 companies voluntarily committed to sustainable improvement of, and sharing the best practices for implementing the 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles*. We met Vanessa Lefranc, the Director of Human Resources Development at Elior who is in charge of developing diversity within the company.

Philippe Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer of Elior Group recently signed the United Nations Global Charter on the Women’s Empowerment Principles, why is this issue important for Elior?

Elior has a diverse cultural presence, with operations in Europe, the United States and India. Our clients and employees in these countries are representative of the diversity of society. It is essential for the development of our employees as well as for our attractiveness, creativity and performance that the diversity of our teams is present at all levels of the organization and that all of our sites benefit from an inclusive culture in which employees are able to express their differences in an environment of respect and openness. More than ever, in the context of the crisis and the transformation linked to Covid-19, we need to demonstrate our ability to listen and remain open to innovation, creativity, cooperation and teamwork. A company that has developed these skills is one that is open to diversity, and vice versa.

Regarding gender diversity, Elior prides itself in that women account for 68% of its employees and 48.8% of its managers, although they are still under represented in positions requiring a high level of responsibility. This issue is one of our priority areas of focus, a fact that is borne out by the signing of the WEP charter.

Diversity concerns all of us, our leaders, managers, HR officers and colleagues alike, on a daily basis.

Vanessa Lefranc; Director of Human Resources Development at Elior Group

You are responsible for this mission; how will you contribute?

By relying on teamwork. Diversity is a business project that involves all of our 105,000 employees. It concerns all of us, our leaders, managers, HR officers and colleagues alike, on a daily basis. This can take the form of recruitment or promotion decision-making, or on a daily basis during meetings, informal exchanges or at lunch when employees, may, whether they are aware of it or not, behave in an inclusive or exclusive manner.   It is therefore essential we involve as many people as possible.

First of all, we set up a working group of 17 women and men from the company; a team of representative employees from all our countries and professions who are motivated to work on the issue. This group was formed just before the Covid crisis broke out and we have therefore adapted our working methods by organizing a remote system for all exchanges. We analyzed the situation and proposed a set of objectives and an action plan. We then created a Governance Committee which is chaired by Philippe Guillemot, CEO of Elior group, and comprises another 3 members of the Group Executive Committee as well as one member of the Executive Committee from each country. This makes for a total of 11 leaders involved in the issue. Throughout the year, we also involved the HR, communication and CSR teams, as well as the operational managers.

Within Elior, our choices are guided by skills, potential, and aspirations.

Vanessa Lefranc: Director of Human Resources Development at Elior Group

What are your goals? 

The vision that guides our action is that all employees may evolve with confidence within the company and contribute, by drawing on the wealth of their aspirations, skills, personality, ambition and personal characteristics. More concretely, this involves diversifying profiles up to the highest levels of responsibility and developing our ability to get the most out of this diversity. Within Elior, our choices are guided by skills, potential and aspirations. Belonging to a group because of one’s gender, age, social origin, ethnicity, and lifestyle, etc. should never represent an obstacle to success within the Group.

Can you give us some examples as to how this program was set up?

Firstly, we analyzed the situation, then we fixed the objectives for the group and at local level, defined the action plan, set up quarterly monitoring indicators and governance. We receive strong support from our leaders, which is a prerequisite for success.

We joined WiHTL, an organization that promotes diversity in our sector of activity, implemented internal-communication and awareness-raising actions, interviewed 40 women holding key positions in the company, analyzed our HR data on 7,000 employees, held discussions with others companies committed to this issue, and launched an international work group on the theme of equal pay. All of these actions were carried out in 2020 which was a particularly complicated year. 

One year after creating the project team, it is still too early to draw any conclusions. While initial results are encouraging, it is too early to cry victory; this is an issue that requires perseverance and consistency. We should be able to make a first assessment at the end of our fiscal year.

The 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles:

1. High-Level Corporate Leadership

2. Treat all Women and Men Fairly at Work without discrimination 

3. Employee Health, Well-Being and Safety 

4. Education and training for career advancement 

5. Enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices

6. Community initiatives and advocacy

7. Measurement and Reporting


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