Corporate, Our voice, Responsible finance
Ardian’s 6 major thrusts for a more inclusive company
11 April 2022
Since 2018, the company’s commitment to these topics has grown and led to the signing at the end of 2020 of an Inclusion & Diversity Charter by Ardian’s Executive Committee. Extensive work was also carried out on KPIs to assess diversity within Ardian and better measure the company’s progress at various levels (recruitment, promotion, turnover, etc.). Today, Ardian’s strategy continues to take shape. Maria Stasse, Co-Head of Ardian Human Resources and Maxime Letissier, Human Resources Manager, present the 6 major thrusts adopted by the company to create a more inclusive and diversified working environment.
Thrust no.1: expand the pool of applicants
In a sector where employees have largely the same educational background – most Private Equity professionals are graduates of major business or engineering schools – Ardian seeks to diversify the origin of its new entrants, and target applicants with a less traditional academic background. Bringing together employees from different horizons is key to thinking out of the box, satisfying as best as possible the multiple needs of our clients and understanding the changes in today’s world. Recruiting a different profile means having every opportunity to perform better if the employee is well integrated and managed. By diversifying their hirings, companies expand their scope of vision, enrich their teams and show that they are not afraid to take bold steps.
This approach is beneficial on at least three levels: growth, internal culture and external image. As addressing diversity from an academic perspective is a long-term strategy, it requires being present at many student events, developing relations with specific schools and explaining private equity to young people. It is all about bringing together people who are not accustomed to rubbing shoulders with one another and developing their ways of thinking to build connections.
Thrust no. 2: change ways of thinking
For Maria Stasse, diversity cannot be achieved without a radical change in ways of thinking.
First and foremost, promoting diversity means overcoming the psychological barriers which can sometimes hinder the talent development, particularly regarding women, within the company.
Ardian Women’s Club plays a key role in challenging pre-conceived ideas, and inspiring and opening up the minds of both men and women through a wide range of initiatives – conferences, portraits of inspirational women, sending messages to students, showcasing gender equality on social networks, etc.
The aim is to deconstruct certain clichés and show that women can succeed and thrive in private equity.
Ardian Women’s Club: gender equality initiatives
Ardian Women’s Club seeks to move the needle on gender equality through various initiatives:
Organization of a women’s network in which Ardian’s female employees can meet, share experiences & knowledge and benefit from the strength of a mutual support network right from onboarding.
Monitoring of quantified indicators with the HR team. Ardian Women’s Club measures changes in women’s status within the company in terms of equal pay, representation in key roles or recruitment.
Commitment to solidarity causes, particularly participation in the Odysséa race, which collects funds for breast cancer research.
Maintenance of a specific LinkedIn page highlighting portraits and short filmed interviews of female Ardian employees.
Thrust no. 3: train future recruits
Accepting differences is crucial but not sufficient. Certain applicants who do not check all the boxes do not get past the first interview as they are not well prepared for this type of exercise. To correct this initial imbalance, Ardian has over the past 2 years proposed weekly training programs for young people from modest backgrounds. These training sessions, organized in partnership with the Voxpopuli association, are designed to prepare applicants for all stages of the recruitment process. “In 2021, nine top-notch interns were hired as a result of this training.”
Interns make up the largest talent pool for our future full-time positions. It is an important step to achieving our diversity objectives.
Ardian continues to support these new employees after they have joined the company. They can benefit from the mentoring program set up to enable very senior employees to sponsor new entrants and support them in their development within the company.
Thrust no. 4: train managers
Diversifying the composition of teams inevitably impacts managers who, faced with different profiles, must adapt their skills and methods.
Supporting diversity requires careful planning. We cannot hire applicants with less traditional profiles and leave our managers on their own to deal with their successful integration in the company.
“Managing people with similar profiles is easy”, added Maxime Letissier. “You quickly understand one another, you have the same perspective, same language and often the same expectations. Managing employees from other horizons is less intuitive”. The challenge is therefore to train managers and help them develop adapted skills – e.g. cultural skills (ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people with different cultures or beliefs), the ability to deconstruct biases, active listening or the ability to oversee people with disabilities. With the support of the HR teams, managers must learn to incorporate all these skills and tools into their daily business.
Thrust no. 5: measure diversity
Ardian’s inclusion and diversity policy is based on a measurement and assessment approach designed to gage the pulse of diversity within the company and direct the measures needed to improve it. An anonymous survey was set up to focus on three indicators: the diversity of profiles at Ardian (by asking employees to identify themselves), the feeling of inclusion for employees and level of knowledge used by teams in diversity initiatives. In 2021, this survey revealed that 90% of Ardian France employees recognize the importance of diversity in companies. 66% believe that Ardian France recognizes and promotes diversity, and 88% stated that they felt accepted “as they are” by their colleagues and managers. According to those surveyed, diversity fosters creativity and innovation (80%), a wider pool of applicants (66%) and improved adaptation to change (58%).
Thrust 6: increase transparency
Finally, to become an inclusive company, all forms of discrimination, whether real or perceived, that may be detected within the company must be prevented. Ardian has chosen to improve transparency with regard to career development and remuneration. This means creating a career skills framework and a method of measuring positions – to allocate a certain value to each key job within an organization according to standardized and previously well-defined criteria – as well as adopting systematic remuneration benchmarks.
For Ardian, all employees must address the issues of inclusion and diversity as they affect everyone. Several “diversity committees” have been set up in various countries, and the topic of diversity is now covered in the speeches of certain Executive Committee members. These are all signs that work undertaken in recent years has borne fruit and ways of thinking are changing. The challenge now is to perpetuate the results obtained and explore new means of how to create a more inclusive company.