Sponsorship, executive coaching and parental transition are the drivers of female leadership at Societe Generale

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At the 2021 Employee Experience Awards in Singapore, Societe Generale won bronze for best female leadership program.

In this interview, Renae Lim, Regional Co-Head of Talent Development and Inclusion, Societe Generale, shares the secrets of this victory – with regard to the many initiatives developed to support the organization’s approach in favor of gender equality, while taking into account the needs of female employees.

Q How have you and your team conceptualized and adapted your women’s leadership strategy to meet changing workforce needs over the past year?

At Societe Generale, we are convinced that promoting diversity and inclusion is essential to building a company that is both efficient and innovative, responsible and open to the world.

At first, our initiatives were more ad hoc, but in 2015, with our APAC Diversity Council and HR, we set up Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to focus on the key challenges we face. in Asia. Gender Network was one of the GREs set up. Together with Gender Network, we have gone deeper into gender equality issues and over the years have offered multiple initiatives to support our campaign for gender equality.

In developing these initiatives, we have taken into account the needs of our female employees at different stages of their careers. The new initiatives that have been rolled out over the past year are specifically:

  • Sponsorship – Developed to increase female representation as well as cultural diversity to the next level.
  • Executive Coaching for MD Women – To help our senior executives uncover their abilities, as well as develop areas that may have been overlooked, to put them on the fast track to achieving their goals.
  • Parenting Transition – Includes maternity coaching to walk our pregnant employees through the four stages of parenting transition, and webinars for managers/HR/co-workers to raise awareness and build inclusion.

Q What challenges did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?

For our new D&I initiatives, we have the full support of our senior management. The main challenge was to ensure that we had a comprehensive plan and to ensure its sustainability over a period of time. Initiatives like sponsorship require meaningful and quality involvement from senior management, and we are happy to see this going well, despite the lack of time in this current challenging environment.

Another challenge we have faced is the fact that all of our programs have to be run virtually now. Fortunately, COVID-19 has seen the advancement of both technologies, as well as the shift in mindset, allowing us to embrace the virtual mode of program delivery.

Q How has the strategy added to the overall employee experience in your organization, in terms of return on investment?

So far, the feedback from our employees has been very positive, for all the programs we have rolled out in the region so far. In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, 2021 is also the third year in a row that we are running Spectrum, a program we designed, which targets the development of our mid to senior level female talent. We are constantly looking to ensure that the topics covered remain relevant, addressing key trends to help our participants achieve their career goals.

Spectrum has become a key offering in our talent development landscape, one our employees aspire to be nominated for, as positive word of mouth from previous participants affirms the quality of the program.

The year we rolled out Spectrum, our female empowerment efforts were also recognized as we won Bronze for Best Female Empowerment Strategy at the 2019 HR Excellence Awards.

Gender diversity is fully integrated into our HR processes, where we have global targets (30% women) set for the Group’s management bodies. At the APAC level, this is also taken into account in various processes such as talent development appointments, promotions, succession planning, etc. For recruitment, we have recently put in place new processes to ensure that we have at least one woman as well as an international profile on our interview committee, and that at least one candidate must be on the list of candidates for all vacancies, to the extent possible.

Another thing I would like to highlight is our signature of the #JamaisSansElles (“Jamais Sans Elle”) charter, which further demonstrates our commitment to promoting diversity at all levels.

Q What’s most exciting and valuable about being part of (and winning!) the top employee experience awards?

The Employee Experience Awards provided us with a great platform to showcase our gender equality efforts. This allowed us to take a step back from the daily routine, to take a look at what made the difference for our employees in their daily lives, in terms of inclusion. Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone. More than ever, employee experience and engagement are at the forefront of our attention.

We are proud of what we have accomplished in this area. There is still a lot to do and we are constantly thinking of innovative ways to solve these problems.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned to continue improving the overall employee experience?

In addition to continuing our initiatives to improve employee inclusion through our diversity ERMs, we have accelerated our communication to employees on HR initiatives that have helped them achieve their goals through more touchpoints with HR teams. of the region. We have a dedicated monthly newsletter on HR topics, year-round wellness initiatives, learning and development opportunities, flexible working options (where applicable), as well as employee activities. commitment planned by the staff clubs.

Regular communication by senior management on Group and regional strategies through virtual town hall meetings and online visits keeps our employees engaged and we will continue to do so in the years to come.

Q Share tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and who would like to participate in the awards next year.

  • Engage your employees for their ideas to ensure that your initiatives stay relevant and buy-in will be there at the local level.
  • Co-creation is key while developing ideas into actionable actions.
  • Experiment even if there is no evidence of success in the past – dare to pioneer!

Q Finally, to end on a fun note, if you could describe the employee experience in your organization in one sentence, what would it be?

We strive to provide a personalized employee experience to create an environment where employees take charge of their own careers.


Picture / 123RF

Read more interviews about why organizations have won trophies for their HR practices – head over to our Winning Secrets section!

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Mara R. Wilmoth