Expert POV: Frédéric Clément, Global Head of Human Resources of AXA IM

Posted on September 20th, 2022

We asked Frédéric Clément, Global Head of Human Resources of AXA IM to share his Expert Point of View on AXA IM’s evolution on gender balance, diversity, and inclusion, and which role those elements have in their broader sustainable agenda. Read more on how the EDGE certification journey contributed to bringing more credibility to the change inside the organization.

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

Global awareness of gender balance and DE&I issues has clearly accelerated in recent years. This is due in particular to the arrival of generation Z in the workplace, bringing strong and uncompromising expectations on employers to align with the social developments and advances of our time and to address the inequalities inherited from the past. This generation is the first one to have spent their whole lives in a digital age and, as a result, they are the most global in their thinking and interaction.

With this evolution, we are entering an age of employee’s expectations and actions that is changing our assumptions about power within organizations. Employees are increasingly voicing their thoughts or quitting laggard companies.

At AXA IM, we’ve understood that creating a truly inclusive and equitable workplace is fundamental to a company’s financial performance. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are increasingly getting integrated into AXA IM’s sustainability agenda and are no longer seen only as a talent strategy. We foster a workplace where no one is defined by a single characteristic and everyone can bring their whole selves and be an active ally.

Achieving EDGE Move certification, four years after achieving the first level of certification, recognizes AXA IM’s commitment and progress towards a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

While we’re convinced of the relevance of our approach, we’re also aware that we won’t have all the answers, there is still a long way to go, and that is why we continue to listen to our lived experiences and educate ourselves.

We have a long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity, and we are determined to act to reduce these inequalities, both in our role as an employer, as a business, and as a responsible investors.

 

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.

We’ve been working a lot to implement actions to continue supporting our goal of tackling both the under-representation of women in the workforce and higher levels of gender imbalance in senior and investment roles.

Our Emerging Female Talent program aims to help manage the unique challenges women face as young professionals that could potentially curtail their future access to leadership positions. This is part of our efforts to improve female progression into senior leadership positions and monitor the gender balance of the successors to leadership positions.

In addition, we continue rolling out our program for all hiring managers globally on inclusive recruitment practices. The program looks at the importance of structured, consistent interview techniques and also how to mitigate potential bias in the process. It also underlines the business case for greater diversity and how it can support the performance of the team as well as our ability to innovate.

We also set up working groups to foster an inclusive and diverse work environment within the context of our missions, values, business practices, and objectives that each employee can join on a voluntary basis. These groups are able to develop internal programs and events that suit the needs and interests of their membership and help support our strategy for inclusion and diversity. And it’s not just words: the valuable brainstorming work done by our employees is then used in a concrete way. We’ve started working on a menopause standard for our company. This idea came from one of these working groups held in Q1 2022.

Also, we have set up an inclusive global parent policy with the same minimum parental leave provision for all our employees globally and we offer 1:1 virtual maternity and paternity coaching both for employees and managers to support individuals throughout the different stages of parental transition.

Finally, we conducted our first global inclusion and diversity survey in September 2021 which has allowed us to obtain aggregated data on the feeling of inclusion amongst different demographic groups, including women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. The information collected will provide the insights to reinforce our strategy and continue to make progress in line with our commitments and our EDGE action plan.

These examples of initiatives are just one part of our inclusion and diversity strategy and we will continue to evolve them in the future, always with a clear objective: at AXA IM, we assess people based on their skills and what they bring to the team.”

 

What do you think workplace gender balance, diversity and inclusion mean to the next generation (e.g., of leaders / customers / investors)?

Over the years, the demand for stricter inclusion and diversity policies has grown and is finally starting to have an impact, clients are becoming more demanding in terms of commitments to diversity. At AXA IM, we support and encourage this positive dynamic as much as possible, and we are convinced that the impact of this dynamic will be huge. Tackling inequalities and working towards an inclusive and equitable workplace will soon be an economic necessity for any business, especially as younger generations continue to turn their backs on ‘laggards’ and prioritize those with a virtuous and inclusive approach.

We believe that enabling different ways of thinking and varied experiences in the workplace will be key to our success in the long term. A diverse workforce helps us attract the most talented people because they know they can flourish with us and realize their full potential. Diversity can also help us meet the needs of our clients across different markets – both globally and locally – by engaging with investee companies to hold them to the same high standards of achieving greater diversity. Studies have shown that a well-balanced and gender-diverse Executive Committee leads to higher profitability and value creation, overcomes issues of groupthink, triggers debates and innovation, and leads to stronger diversity of representation across the organization.

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