Since 1946, the principle of gender equality is inscribed in the French constitution. The law guarantees women the same rights as men in all walks of life, but despite a large corpus of legislation already on the statute books, gender equality and the place of women in the workplace is still an issue and all too often fuels debate and needs to be reaffirmed.
At CLS, we strive every day to pursue a holistic approach that has enabled us to achieve a gender equality index of 93%, a fine score for a company operating in the science and engineering field.
For International Women’s Day, Head of Human Resources Cécile Espinassous reveals how CLS is ensuring fairness and equality for our female employees.
How is this index calculated?
The gender equality index is based on several indicators:
- Gender pay gap
- Pay rise gap
- Promotions gap and pay rises on return from maternity leave
- Gender distribution among the top ten salaries
Each indicator carries a score out of 15 to 40. They are then added together to give an index out of 100. At CLS, we scored almost full marks on all our indicators, but we’re 7 points from achieving full equality!
How do you see gender equality at CLS?
When I talk about gender equality at CLS, I don’t see it as an issue that needs addressing… it’s a guiding light illuminating everything we do, every day.
Each and every employee needs to develop their skills, find their place, build confidence and show their abilities. It’s our collective responsibility to make sure our policies are fair. I like to say unbiased in any way, because talent is gender-neutral!
So, at CLS talent isn’t gender-specific and everyone has their place, with no need for positive discrimination.
What positions do women occupy at CLS?
Women occupy all kinds of positions at CLS: administrative assistant, Deputy CEO, artificial intelligence engineer, or space oceanographer, for example. We have a higher proportion of women in support, but they’re represented across all functions, including engineering.
We make it a point of honor to ensure women are well represented, but we don’t do positive discrimination.
Likewise, we have women at all levels of our organization, including on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. In fact, 50% of our Board of Directors and 40% of our Executive Committee are women, and they make up 41% of the total headcount.
What actions are you pursuing to maintain gender equality at CLS?
Equal opportunity is our watchword!
When we fill a position with someone in house or an external candidate, we look at their skills and experience, their commitment, motivation and values. Gender doesn’t come into the equation! Gender equality must be and is a given… and that’s how it must stay. It’s not even an issue.
Does being a green tech company make it harder for CLS to achieve gender equality?
I don’t think our sector is holding back gender equality or how it’s maintained. What can prove an obstacle is that women are under-represented in STEM subjects and functions we’re looking to recruit in.
So, fewer women in STEM disciplines means fewer female candidates… and proportionally that has an impact, but at CLS it’s lower.
According to the 2017 population census conducted by the national statistics office INSEE, 48% of jobs in the environment sector are occupied by women. CLS is a company whose technologies are serving the environment, which is possibly what makes us more attractive than some high-tech sectors. But men are joining us too because what we do is meaningful to them.
What advice would you give to a young woman, manager or director starting a new job?
I don’t have any advice for them as such, other than to say ‘you can do it’!
Have faith in your abilities, values and convictions, in your personality and your differences, and in men!
Because men are our allies in this…
I encourage all women looking for a sense of achievement not to conform to stereotypes, to cast off the shackles, and to believe in who they are and what they want!
But let’s not forget there are no free lunches in life, and you have to work to get what you want… that’s something I keep repeating to my two teenage daughters, for whom gender equality has never been an issue, because for them it’s a given—and that’s how it should be!
So, I say to all women: BELIEVE IN YOURSELVES and give yourselves the opportunity to achieve your ambitions, with enthusiasm and conviction!
Do you have a message for men?
That they’re right to BELIEVE IN US!
Let’s work and succeed together, let’s take pride in being together, recognizing each other’s skills and qualities, let’s share our projects, combine our strengths and move forward into the future hand in hand! Let’s be resolutely positive and optimistic!