Gender equality: a subject at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. Claire Pedini, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources and Digital Transformation answers our questions.

1/ Equal opportunity for men and women has improved in recent years at Saint-Gobain. How has this been made possible?

Claire Pedini: Diversity is one of the four aspects of our Open program. Essential, it involves gender equality, and diversity of nationalities, social backgrounds, education, careers, generations and disability. Concerning gender equality, we have introduced a certain number of systems to encourage the recruitment of women and to support their advancement at all levels in the Group. As a result, the number of women managers at Saint-Gobain has risen from 17% to 24%. However, as we seem to have hit a wall, we need to redouble our efforts. This progress has also been made possible thanks to a change in mentalities. It is important to root out certain discriminatory phenomena from our recruitment and management processes and to make sure that everyone understands that diversity is a source of wealth for the company. Don't forget that one half of talented individuals on Earth are women. So, why wouldn't we make use of this pool of talent? We have seen that the discussions and progress made around gender equality are pulling everyone upwards. 

2/ What are Saint-Gobain's targets today?

Claire Pedini: Our targets are clear: we want to see 25% women managers in 2020 and 25% women executives in 2025. In order to achieve these targets, we must attract and hire more women and better identify internal talent to allow women to break through the glass ceiling. We need help to get there. There's no guarantee.

3/ According to a LinkedIn study published in May 2019, when applying for a job, women feel they must match 100% of the criteria, whereas a man is happy with just 60%. How do you want to encourage women hires at Saint-Gobain?

Claire Pedini: True, there are still certain conscious and unconscious biases. For example, we need to make sure that the job descriptions in our ads are completely free of any discrimination. Recruiters and managers are increasingly aware of the advantages in hiring women. So, they need to conduct their interviews with this in mind. We also want to encourage women to be more daring. If we show that women working for Saint-Gobain can be daring and progress their careers, we will encourage more women to apply for jobs in our various businesses.

4/ Once in a position, some women have to deal with a degree of paternalism. Can you explain for us why this is?

Claire Pedini: Gender equality requires a shift in mentality. People need to accept that social roles are changing. Women are still often the victims of what I would call “unkind kindness.” Take the example of family responsibilities. A manager might presuppose that a woman won't want to travel and take on new responsibilities because she is a mother, thinking that that is better for her. But it is up to women - and men - to decide for themselves what is best for them professionally and personally. All managers need to respect this.

5/ Personally, as a woman and a mother, do you feel you have had to prove yourself more than a man? 

Claire Pedini: Yes, always! Women must systematically prove themselves more to get the same thing as a man. They need to be more forceful so as not to be interrupted when they are speaking, justify why they may have certain time constraints, etc., despite their work being done and appreciated. Women are often equated with their status as a woman rather than with their professional status. All this needs to change today.