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Promoting Women in the workplace: ‘Feminin by Societe Generale’

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veronique-de-la-BacheleriePatrick-FolleaFeminin by SG, the largest women’s association in Societe Generale, was created in 2006. The association now has 760 members and opened to men last year. Véronique de la Bachelerie, Societe Generale Country Head for Luxembourg and President of Feminin by Societe Generale, and Patrick Folléa, Head of Societe Generale Private Banking for France and member of Feminin by Societe Generale share their insight.

 

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Feminin by SG accompanies the Group in the promotion of women. When we look at the percentages of women at Group executive levels in France we see that they are underrepresented at the upper echelons of management. Our goal is to help more women reach these heights and stay there.. We go about this in 3 ways:

  • HR processes: We point out the obstacles that hinder women’s careers by encouraging HR to conduct the evaluation process in a much more informed way , and to be more engaged in the overall process.
  • Educating managers: We educate managers on the topic of gender diversity, focusing on, for example, reluctance to hire or promote women for fear of inflexibility due to family constraints. We need to get past these established mindsets and demystify these so-called potential risks of promoting women into management.
  • Women themselves: We help to build women’s confidence by helping them to look at and judge themselves differently, to promote themselves in a positive way and to work their network.

IS GENDER DIVERSITY A BLOCK OR A DRIVER FOR A COMPANY?

Veronique : A driver! Mixed teams lead to better performances for companies as different behaviours bring about different results. Also, there is an important business aspect at stake. Women clients prefer to work with teams that are more diverse as they find this setup more challenging. Lastly, there is an HR element at stake. If we do not see women who have the same education as men in upper level positions there will be inequality, and a loss of shared intuition as women are more open to sharing their thoughts than men.

Patrick: Gender diversity brings richness thanks to different people coming together and joining forces. Together we have a richer company culture.  Without a doubt it is a driver. It should be applied to both men and women. Having equality in a company is necessary for its sustainable development to be competitive and on par with the world’s leading companies.

FEMININ BY SOCIETE GENERALE WAS OPENED TO MEN IN 2013: WHY DID THIS CHANGE COME ABOUT AND WHAT HAS IT BROUGHT?

Working towards the promotion of women really brings into play a collaboration between women and men. The reasons we decided to open Feminin by SG to men are:

  • to heighten awareness of the issues for men
  • to better understand men’s points of views
  • to better identify potential blocks to diversity
  • to enrich our mentoring program
  • and to have more fruitful workshops

I’m one of the first male members. There isn’t even a question about what a good idea it is to join forces together in the association, to share and to learn together. If not it is like we are going against the current. Being a member of the association helps me to better understand women’s perspectives in the workplace. It is also enriching for me as a manager and executive with regard to my teams, and the interaction I have with female colleagues.

Patrick Folléa, Head of Societe Generale Private Banking

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