I realize that I do not represent women universally. I understand that I’m in a privileged position, not least because I grew up in an environment where female energy and passion was encouraged. I’ve been fortunate to work with companies that allowed me to grow, and now I’m a member of the most diverse executive team that I’ve ever experienced – five of us are female! This is not the life experience shared by all women around the globe.
Professional equality between women and men has always been close to my heart. One mandate I’ve set for myself and our teams is to ensure that we take every opportunity to foster gender equality. That we aim to resolve situations where we see inequality, or an environment that does not provide a healthy balance for women to lead fulfilling lives.
The leadership team at Orange Business Services understands that diversity is a strategic asset to nurture future business growth, and that it’s highly visible to our customers and partners. Orange has made commitments to take a proactive approach to develop the rich skills and competencies of our female workforce and to open up professional opportunities in creative and flexible ways, so that we can truly enjoy the rewards of working in highly diverse, global teams.
Over recent years, our commitment at Orange to improve professional equality has centered on four pillars:
- Helping more women access managerial positions
- Ensuring equal representation of women and men in all lines of business (while recognizing that there remains work to be done in technical fields)
- Ensuring equal pay
- Providing a good work-life balance for everyone
Gender diversity is at the heart of our business plan but, especially as we operate in a B2B environment and in the digital sector, our business environment is still predominantly male. Did you know that in 2018, women held only 15% of the technical roles in the digital sector, even though this industry is experiencing a shortage of resources and talent. Reversing this curve is not easy, but we must attract more women in our field, identify emerging talents and expand our workforce.
Today, if we wish to ensure a gender diverse workplace for the future, we must take direct action to anticipate our business needs and reach out to female students before they are ready to enter the workplace. Every day we see that fewer women than men enter the science and technology streams direct from high school and higher education. Young girls are less attracted by the science and technology professions and these stereotypes remain the key reason for the lack of young graduates in this sector.
International Women's Day Singapore
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I am hopeful that things will change as our world is experiencing digital transformation, which will bring opportunities for new profiles, including more openings for women. We can see how traditional roles, such as “Director of Information Systems,” are evolving to take on a broader scope, which requires some marketing and customer experience. As IT and marketing teams converge, this opens up new opportunities to capitalize on the growing importance of soft skills, agility, continuous improvement and project management.
We will continue to cherish our differences inside our company, and we’ll maintain our commitments to ensure further evolution as a truly diverse, global community at Orange Business Services.
Mechtild Walser-Ertel is the Global Head of Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility at Orange Business Services. She has 25 years experience in international HR roles across the entire range of HR disciplines. Mechtild has held senior HR roles in a number of international companies, including Novartis and the Barry Callebaut Group, where she held the role of Global Head of Talent Management. From 2011 – 2016 Mechtild was the Regional Head of International HR services for Europe & Russia at Orange Business Services.
In her new role, her mission is to build the reputation of Orange Business Services as an employer of choice that offers an open learning enterprise, in which employees can achieve their full potential and contribute to the needs of society as responsible corporate citizens.