Diversity at Michelin: a competitive advantage
Because our international presence requires we operate in a great variety of environments, diversity at Michelin has many different faces: the markets, customers, uses, suppliers, partners and more. Also and above all, the men and women we work with every day. Why is it important?
And firstly, what do we mean by “diversity”?
Promoting diversity in a company means not only admitting differences exist between people (elementary non-discrimination) but celebrating them too. It’s about making good use of them for everyone’s fulfillment and in everyone’s interest.
Why is it useful? In our companies focuses shift quickly and employers cannot remain attached to the same model based on the same thought processes, self-reproducing via “social cloning” if you will. To remain agile, innovative, in phase with their market and with their customers and stakeholders, companies must mix profiles, training and life experiences.
Does it work? Let’s be clear: it is very difficult to prove that there is a correlation between Diversity and Performance. Above all, for Michelin it is an ethical stance, a deliberate choice to reflect society with respect for people. However, it seems that in companies where this alchemy is a success, employees are more motivated; they feel a stronger sense of belonging and demonstrate greater professional commitment. So everybody wins! According to an in-house survey by Sodexo in 2015 (questioning 50,000 managers in 80 countries), the level of commitment of teams which had the best gender diversity levels (around 50-50) increased by an average of 4 points compared to only 1 point in other teams. It also makes a difference to business performance. The same survey showed that 23% of mixed teams increased their gross margin and 13% their internal growth over the last three years.
However, the situation isn’t peachy everywhere… In the 8th survey on the perception of discrimination in the workplace published in France in 2015, being pregnant, being over 55, sporting a style that does not match the working environment, having a visible handicap or even being obese are all discriminatory criteria for hiring. 60% of people asked also mentioned that having a foreign-sounding name, a foreign nationality or an accent hindered recruitment. Basically, there is a lot of work to do.
And at Michelin?
At Michelin, identifying discrimination risks and their correction is clear and transparent (it is a legal obligation almost everywhere in the world), but for several years now our voluntary policy in this field has had a more ambitious objective: make diversity a performance driver. So, a competitive advantage: greater appeal as an employer, better knowledge of our markets, quality of the atmosphere at work, increased innovation capacity... How do we do it? We selected four priority directions for progress: gender diversity, disability, age and cultural mix (nationalities). Here is a short overview of these four dimensions in the Group:
Like any company in the automobile industry, Michelin has few women: only 10.5% of its agents in 2015. This ratio improves with employees and technicians (32%) and, in lesser terms, with management and supervisors (24.2%). So, we can say it’s good but there is room for improvement. The good news is that the percentage of women increases every year! Globally, for the 5th consecutive year in 2015 one out of three new employees was a woman. We set ourselves a target of 30% of women in management by 2020. We are on the right track. And what about equal pay? Since 2011, the global difference (on a Group level) in pay falls every year. It stabilized at 2.8% in 2015. Not bad!
Back in 2006 Michelin defined a policy which aims to offer jobs to people affected by disability. Depending on the country, this policy must observe different standards. Some countries do not have restrictive legislation (Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Serbia). For some, the legislation is motivational (the Netherlands) and for others there are legal percentages to achieve (France). These legal and cultural differences create a great variety which makes global statistical consolidation difficult. At MFPM in 2015 (French company in the Michelin group), the legal requirement of 6% was exceeded.
Michelin Germany is at the forefront in this field with a new agreement promoting the employment of seniors up to 65 years old and which plans, amongst other things, to reorganize working hours for health reasons. In Brazil, Michelin offers each employee, from a certain age, a very thorough health check to detect any possible problems.
The question of ethnic origins is broadly taken on board in North America and in Europe, particularly during the hiring process. In the United States to guarantee equal treatment, employee performances are measured for each visible minority. The differences in pay and roles are then analyzed, and any necessary corrective measures implemented. Furthermore, we favor local, qualified management teams everywhere. In booming areas (South America, Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East, Russia), we have a program to detect potential and spot talent. Michelin has set itself a target of 85% local managers. In 2015, we reached 68%, an improvement on 2014 (65%).
- At Michelin, Diversity relies on a strong and stable network around the world.
- The Group establishes fundamental principles and in each country the network translates them through actions relevant to the local situation.
- Michelin’s commitment to Diversity may be a principled choice stemming from social responsibility, however there are areas where this diversity contributes objectively to our performance:
- Customers. We need to have teams from each country where we operate to understand the markets better and faster.
- Innovation. By diversifying profiles and therefore points of view, we increase our ability to stray from the beaten track and innovate.
- Talents. If we are not “diverse”, we do not appeal to new talents, new profiles.
- Management. Managing “diverse” teams improves managerial expertise.
- Image. In current society, being open to diversity is important for a company’s brand image.