Diversity and Professional Equality: the same cause?

The debate has existed for over 10 years since the issue of diversity first emerged: should diversity include the issue of equal opportunities?

Yes, as one of the 18 grounds of discrimination prohibited by French law on employment, access to services, and criminal law. No, if you consider that diversity policies are intended to protect the rights of minorities. Should women be considered a minority when it comes to employment and career development, while they represent 50% of the population? However, a measure designed to destroy discrimination in companies or organisations, by strengthening the approach through professional skills and by objectifying as much as possible the analyses of these skills, can serve both diversity and equal opportunities.

This is the sense in which the Ministry of Labour, which was recently awarded the Diversity Label (which was previously the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior), confirmed the merger of two existing tools, the Equal Opportunities Label and the Diversity Label.
Without merging the two labels and the two specifications, we will soon (Spring 2015) have specifications including a core curriculum, and additional and complementary versions of each other.

The approach of studying the results of the policy put in place, which is already present in the professional equality label, will also be integrated more fully in the diversity label approach that has mainly focused so far on the means and processes implemented. François Rebsamen, the Minister of Labour and Employment, recalled during the official diversity labels awards ceremony on November 12th, which recognised the latest 36 companies to be labelled, including the CCIT Montpellier, and who said that support for small and medium businesses in structuring their HR, purchasing and customer relationships processes, in terms of non-discrimination, should remain a priority for the development of these tools, as VSE-SMEs are the largest employers in France, with as many practices as leaders.

In our programmes, diversity and equal opportunities are addressed in raising awareness about non-discrimination and the teaching of human resources, but the information still needs to be spread. For proof of this, this question was asked by a student during the meetings at the start of the academic year “Yes, but there is no law for equal opportunities regarding pay. Because if there were a law, would there no longer be a difference?”.

In business schools in France, girls are at par with boys in terms of headcount, results and job access. We do not have the difficulties faced by engineering schools of attracting female talent. Nonetheless, we are not so far away from the reproduction of stereotypical professions in the choice of post-graduate specialisation courses and in the choice of first job professions. We also have more work to do to put all students on an equal footing in terms of negotiating first job wages, resulting in differences in treatment from the start of working life.

It’s up to us to further demonstrate and provide role models to continue the process of deconstructing images related to women’s access to certain professions and vice-versa, and to allow each of our talents to head to the profession for which they have the most honed natural skills.