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19/11/2018 News

Making Diversity a Reality: the Right Chemistry

The fundamental principles of chemistry teach us about the power of diversity. Consider, for example, that the interaction among the 118 elements on the periodic table have spawned more than 144 million unique organic and inorganic chemical substances. And that number just keeps growing.

The energy industry depends on this natural diversity, as the reaction and combustion of such elements as oxygen and hydrogen make it possible for us to heat our homes, light our streets, drive cars and fly planes.

Just as diversity displays its creative power in the natural world, we can be sure that it enriches human society as well. For a multinational company like Total, fostering diversity is a win-win, convinced that the commitment we make to greater social responsibility goes hand-in-hand with our responsibility to shareholder. It serves both the interest of the common good and our bottom line.

Indeed, diversity has been shown to boost productivity for an individual company. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group[1] found that increased diversity in companies leads to stronger innovation and higher profits. And perhaps the best news from the study is that there is no going back: more than 70 percent of the survey’s respondents say that diversity is gaining momentum inside their companies.

I am proud to report the same good news here at Total. And to help accelerate diversity inside our company and across the economy, we're joining with other corporate leaders in Europe to pledge our commitment to inclusion and diversity at a meeting of the European Round Table of Industrialists this month.

Making diversity a reality is an essential corporate responsibility that must be translated into clear objectives with a constant eye on execution. This is not just a pledge, but a call to action to make our respective workforces even more reflective of society.

But hiring a diverse workforce is just the first step. The working environment must also be inclusive, which means that everyone from every background and all walks of life must feel fully supported in the workplace.

This undertaking requires that the company must regularly review our equal opportunity policies that affect recruitment, retention, remuneration, career planning and personal development.

I am lucky to be at the head of a company that has a head start on diversity. At Total, we've been making these kinds of changes for years. More than 130 nationalities are currently represented in our workforce. Gender parity is also on the rise and increased to an all-time high of one-third of the Total group in 2017.

From the beginning of the Gender diversity program, we increased significantly the percentage of women at the senior executive level: from 6% to reach 21% in 2017. By 2020, women will hold one quarter of our leadership positions and one fifth of the seats on our executive boards. Total also aims that by 2020, 40 percent of its managerial staff to be of nationalities other than French.

But there's still much work to be done, and we're ready for it. These changes can't just happen inside the company walls. We must reach out to the community and encourage policies and practices that reduce social inequality.

As an example, to break the barriers to move toward technical functions, we must work to bridge the skill gap for those groups that are underrepresented in the workforce. This includes developing and providing access to STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, apprenticeships, work-study programs, and business-education partnerships that have a direct impact on our talent pipeline and long-term business environment.

For a company like Total, everything begins with people that are different from each other. In the end it becomes a great mix of talents working together around the world. Good chemistry makes for good energy.