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Diversity & Inclusion in the Industrial Sector : Philipine Declercq, Legrand

Updated: Jan 26

An interview with Philippine Declercq, Country Manager, Legrand – Switzerland

WDS’s Lucie Frideling spoke with Philippine Declercq to discuss diversity and inclusion at Legrand, the global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures.

Philippine, Country Manager Switzerland at Legrand is 41 years old and has lived in Switzerland with her family for 2 years.

During our discussion, Philippine shared her perspective on diversity and inclusion and provide us with some great advice on how to balance your professional and personal life.

A big thank you to Philippine.

Can you tell us a bit more about Legrand and the profile you are looking for?

Legrand Group engages in the manufacture of electrical and digital building infrastructures. Its services include the provision of control and command of electric power, cable management, power distribution, and voice-data-image distribution. The company was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in France. We have nearly 38,000 employees, established in 90 countries, and sales of €8.3 billion.

With my team of 50 people, Legrand Switzerland focuses on 3 core businesses: Residential housings, Commercial buildings, and Datacenters.

My two key business priorities are organic growth and acquisition activities to enrich the Legrand Switzerland portfolio.

To pursue these objectives, I recruit mainly commercial profiles as well as back-office functions such as finance, logistics, sales administration. However, strong motivation and willingness to learn as well as an interest in technical topics are key for us. It’s not always easy to hire people, and especially women, in this type of industry.

Can you tell us more about Legrand diversity and inclusion?

Back in 2016, I was the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Legrand for 3 years. I know these subjects very well and I can tell you that it’s not a brand-new topic in the company.

Already in 2004, we had some clear targets on “planet and inclusion”. We know that our customers are diverse, and we are doing our best to represent them.

As a group, we are on our 5th CSR Roadmap and the subject is well embedded in them all. For the period 2022-2024, we have the following priorities:

Achieving Gender Diversity in Management Positions:

The goal is to have 30% of management positions filled by women by 2024. In 2022, female managers accounted for 28.5% of the total, showcasing a positive progression from 22.6% compared to 2018.

Promoting Diversity & Inclusion:

Another focus is to have 80% of the workforce employed in entities with the "Diversity & Inclusion" label. By the end of 2022, 44.5% of employees were working in entities with the GEEIS – Diversity label, which is recognized for its systematic implementation of Diversity and Inclusion standards, validated by third-party audits. Legrand in Switzerland is among those with this accreditation.

Long-Term Goal for Gender Parity:

Looking ahead to 2030, the objective is to have one-third of women in key positions and ensure gender parity across the entire workforce. There has been a significant improvement, with female representation in key positions rising from 14.8% in 2018 to 24.4% in 2022, marking a 65% progression.

These targets come with training programs on non-discrimination, the existence of an international network fostering gender diversity “elle@legrand”, which I had the great pleasure to lead from 2018 to 2020. It is present in 33 countries, and it covers topics such as skills development, career progression and work/life balance, and encompasses programs such as mentoring and organizes presentations and exchanges of views with other networks.

Since January 19, 2022, Legrand Switzerland has held the GEEIS (Gender Equality European & International Standard) quality label in the field of Gender and Inclusion of LGBT+ people. This distinction recognizes Legrand Switzerland's strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, reflected in the actions implemented locally. This is in line with Legrand's approach of promoting an inclusive working environment, enabling everyone to be themselves and to exercise their talents. A strong commitment directly linked to the Group's raison d'être: improving lives.

What advice would you give to women who want to work in the industrial sector?

Embrace your authenticity and aspire to be the professional you dream of becoming. Don't feel compelled to conform to any gender-specific stereotypes within your chosen field. In the realm of work, every role, from the ground floor to the highest rung of the corporate ladder, is within your reach. Gender should never act as a barrier, so never allow it to hinder your ambitions.

Selecting the right life partner is paramount, as the foundation of many successful careers lies in a solid, harmonious partnership. Seek someone whose personal values align with your own, and who also supports your professional aspirations. Maternity along the way for those who wants to embark on this journey is a step in a career which needs to be embraced and for that purpose: prepare it in your professional life as much as you do in your personal life. Maternity is where the glass ceiling consolidates and becomes this thick blurry line in most women career path. Prepare it before you leave, anticipate the conditions you would like to see set for when you’re coming back (working time for instance) early on. Maximize alignment between personal organization and professional objectives and the rest you’ll figure out as we all do. The worst that can happen for all is the lack of communication among the team and let perceptions take the lead. If you want to make a pause, let it be known; if you want to continue to pursue certain career objectives, let’s make it clear also.

Don't be afraid to seek assistance or guidance when needed and reciprocate by offering your support and advice to others. Our world sometimes perceives seeking help or counsel as a sign of weakness, but, in reality, it is a testament to genuine intelligence.

You'll discover that many individuals are more than willing to share their wisdom, experiences, and networks if called upon. Let's work together to foster a sense of unity and support, bridging the gaps that may exist in the professional world.

- Thank you Philippine for sharing your insights and experience about DEI at Legrand!


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