Expert POV: Eunice Herrera, HR/SD Head at Holcim Colombia

Posted on April 4th, 2022

Holcim Colombia is one of the leading manufacturers of construction materials in Colombia – and a company of the Holcim group. In early 2022 it obtained EDGE Lead Certification – the third, and highest level of EDGE Certification which celebrates success in workplace gender equity.

Success at this level, especially for a business operating within a male-dominated construction materials industry, is a result of Holcim Colombia purposefully aligning with the principle of well-being, progress, sustainability and development. This is something which has been underpinned by rigorous third-party certification obtained through a comprehensive third-party review of the organization’s gender representation, gender pay equity, effectiveness of policies and practices to ensure equitable career flows, and inclusiveness of an organization’s culture for both the male and female employees.

Holcim Colombia started its journey with EDGE Certification in 2016 when it obtained EDGE Move certification, the second level of EDGE Certification. Since then, the business has made significant progress and showed remarkable results in all areas measured, it closed the gaps which were highlighted, and developed a detailed action plan to reach the highest gender equity standards.

Eunice Herrera is HR/SD Head at Holcim Colombia and has been working ceaselessly to strengthen the commitment of the directors, as well as sharing good practices and helping develop the skills that enable the integration of men and women in a more productive and inclusive society.

How did the business case for gender balance DE&I evolved over the last 18 months?

Eunice Herrera: In 2019 we developed a very detailed plan to fill the gaps in each one of the pillars of the EDGE Certification. Notwithstanding the pandemic, our main challenge was to prioritize the achievement of each one of our policies and guidelines among the leaders and within the organization.

This led us to make changes such as updating our approach to recruitment with a very agile onboarding process to attract young professionals. We have also strengthened our Diversity and Inclusion Committee with a new leader and more focus on increasing the participation of women in technical roles. We have also made our activities more visible through trade associations and through strategic partnerships with educational institutions, which allowed us to launch a program to increase women technical capabilities of our communities in our areas of influence.

How did the conversation about the business case evolved?

Eunice Herrera: We openly planned initiatives to strengthen indicators, and were able to evidence its evolution in monthly committees and in meetings with the leadership team. We covered the whole employee life cycle through recruiting, onboarding, process of promotion and development, workplace environment and pay equity, with a focus on raising awareness amongst our managers about the importance of a conscious leadership that recognizes the benefits of having multidisciplinary teams for the business.

What did change?

Eunice Herrera: Today we have a more focused Diversity Committee, and at the internal level, our structures are less hierarchical which eases the decision-making process. Leaders have more power, and we have an open dialogue to strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The building materials sector has significant gaps to fill in order to become a more attractive sector for purposes of female inclusion. We have therefore formed alliances with institutions and trade associations in order to make the importance of a more inclusive society more visible, and to make the development of women skills in our industry a reality.

We need a more inclusive society in all senses so today it is pertinent to talk not only about the number of women that are part of the organization, but also the contribution that both men and women make towards a more equalitarian and integrating society where historic patterns of exclusion are broken down.

EDGE Certification brings visibility and credibility to the change happening inside the organization. At the same time, it creates the premises for diverse talent to thrive at work. Tell us some stories about how your employees benefit from the EDGE Certification journey of your organization.

Eunice Herrera: Our people today enjoy a better work/life balance as a result of our hybrid workplace schemes. They benefit from inclusive premises where both men and women have independent restrooms, lockers and nursing rooms. They have more transparency in terms of the promotion process, the development of talent, and the level of pay equity.

With less hierarchy, there is a more inclusive culture where everybody has their say, everyone can be heard, and everyone can challenge the status quo.

What do you think gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace means for the next generation?

Eunice Herrera: As to future generations, they seek a better work/life balance; particularly those who share duties in the context of their families, duties that employers must better understand. They expect fair compensation for their contribution; they demand an equal footing to reach prosperity and development. However, we also acknowledge that they see how important it is to respect gender, age, race, religion and sexual differences and preferences and how that multiculturality provides value to innovation and business results.

 

ABOUT HOLCIM (COLOMBIA) S.A.

Holcim (Colombia) S.A. is a company of the Holcim group, a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions that builds progress for people and the planet.

As a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, Holcim is enabling greener cities, smarter infrastructure and improving living standards around the world. With sustainability at the core of its strategy Holcim is becoming a net zero company, with its people and communities at the heart of its success. The company is driving the circular economy as a world leader in recycling to build more with less.

Holcim has 70,000 people around the world who are passionate about building progress for people and the planet.

 

ABOUT EDGE CERTIFICATION

EDGE is the leading global assessment and business certification for gender and intersectional equity. EDGE Certification involves a rigorous third-party review of representation across the pipeline, pay equity, effectiveness of policies and practices, and inclusiveness of an organization’s culture. As an integral part of the assessment, statistical data is analysed, policies and practices are reviewed and employees’ experiences of career development opportunities in the current workplace are accounted for. Depending on the specific results of each organization, an action plan is formulated, and firm commitments towards its implementation.

EDGE Certification meets organizations where they are in their gender balance journey (EDGE) and in their intersectional equity journey (EDGEplus) through its three levels of certification: Assess, Move and Lead. A certification at the EDGE Assess level recognizes commitment, one at the EDGE Move level showcases progress and a certification at the EDGE Lead level celebrates success in fostering gender equitable workplaces. An EDGEplus certification further recognizing its commitment to analysing intersectional issues between gender and one or several of the following additional dimensions: gender identity, race/ethnicity, LGBTQI+, working with a disability, and age.

EDGE Certification is built around the independent third-party certification of data and information and is distinguished by its rigour and focus on impact granted by one of the EDGE accredited independent third-party certification bodies – SGS, Intertek or FloCert, it remains valid for a period of two years. EDGE’s current customer base consists of over 200 large organizations in 50 countries across five continents, representing 30 different industries.

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