What does diversity mean to you and Capgemini?
It’s really all about being a multicultural and diverse workplace where each colleague is accepted and valued as their true self. We avoid creating or allowing moulds to form where people somehow “should fit in”. We respect employees’ ability to bring in their unique point of view. In fact, we’re largely building our success on our people’s different cultures and backgrounds.
Diversity is definitely a part of our DNA. Besides the cultural backgrounds that are represented in our community, diversity means that we also adapt to the needs of different people and their changing life situations. It’s one of our strengths and we want to embrace it.
What about inclusion – how would you summarize its essence?
Inclusion, to me, is most of all about creating a safe environment where everyone can be themselves without fearing judgment or any type of discrimination. An inclusive culture is the result of understanding the community’s diversity and taking it into consideration in decisions and daily practices. Although it seems harsh to talk about business in this context, we acknowledge that being inclusive helps us achieve our business goals, because we can extract the best potential from each of our employees.
“An inclusive culture is the result of understanding the community’s diversity and taking it into consideration in decisions and daily practices.”
On a practical level, inclusion is largely about shaping and maintaining processes that facilitate diversity. In an inclusive environment, no one should feel a need to cover up who they are. This is why encouraging openness is a top priority for us. By making diversity more known and visible, we can be truly inclusive.
I would like to point out that diversity doesn’t automatically make an organization inclusive. As I mentioned before, Capgemini is a multicultural employer, and we’ve worked hard on advancing inclusion, but we also know that there are still many things we need to work on.
How do you support diversity throughout careers at Capgemini Finland?
First of all, we do our best to avoid biased thinking when recruiting new colleagues. We all have a background that influences our behaviour, but our job is to be objective and base recruitment decisions on candidates’ competence. All of our job openings are posted in English, so that everyone also internally can follow what kind of profiles we’re looking for.
We’re also putting a strong emphasis on advancing women’s careers. Currently over 30% of our employees and 50% of the country board are women. We want to make sure that we provide equal opportunities for career development regardless of gender, for example by offering a nanny to your home in case your child gets sick, and by fostering a culture where it’s easy to combine work with family life.
“Currently over 30% of our employees and 50% of the country board are women.”
For new recruits coming from outside of Finland, we have a person working full-time in helping them settle in and to get all the information and support they need. It’s really important for us to make our new team members feel welcomed and attended to. This very beginning of the employment is a great opportunity to show how much we value diversity.
As an example of collaborative actions to advance diversity, we’re organizing events with the Women in Tech –community that pushes forward women’s status in digital industries. There’s also OUTfront, which is Capgemini’s own LGBTQ+ network that takes actions to raise awareness and to support the community. We’ve also hosted themed sessions with Seta ry.
What concrete actions are you taking to make Capgemini even more inclusive?
The way I see it, inclusion and our quest for a safe environment are driven by the diversity that exists as part of our culture. Several actions move us to the right direction. For instance, we host cultural awareness trainings for all employees twice a year. We’ve teamed up with a certified culture coach, whose job is to guide our teams to working in a multicultural team.
Another concrete thing is our Culture Café, which allows Capgeminians to come together, learn and share views about different cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations etc. in an open environment. These sessions are focused specifically around diversity and inclusion, which helps new recruits integrate but also increases awareness.
Adapting to change is a big part of inclusion. We want to keep track of our teams’ thoughts and feelings, so we for example dedicated one monthly employee pulse survey purely to the themes of diversity and inclusion. Analysis of the results provides great insight to what we need to focus on next.
All this is to say that at Capgemini inclusion is not just on some far away agenda. We have assembled a CSR-team from our employees to advance these things. So, it’s not just decisions flowing top-down but actually ideas rising from each of us.
“We don’t really have an ‘average employee’, and we don’t really want to have one. Everyone is encouraged to be their unique self.”
Can you tell us about some projects that are in the pipeline?
In the long term, we will keep peeling off the layers of inclusion in order to move beyond the obvious actions. One theme that we’ve already discussed last year is how to ensure inclusion and equality in leadership.
We are also highly committed to the collaboration with Capgemini’s other Nordic countries. Together with these offices, we’ll continue to advance the measurement of inclusion, organize awareness campaigns, and embed diversity into the Capgemini culture even more.
Any personal experiences about diversity or inclusion?
During my time here, I’ve learned that we really are diverse also in terms of personalities. We’ve tried our best to remove any defining criteria that would prevent people from being their true selves. For example, some new recruits ask if we have a dress code. The answer is always: nope, just come as you are. Our people are small and tall, thin and thick, and they wear dresses and hoodies. No one is there to say what or who someone should be.
I remember someone who used to work on a client’s side and later on jumped to Capgemini saying, that already before joining they had witnessed our respect and a supportive attitude towards our colleagues. I also know that we’ve had some successes in pushing our clients to become more inclusive, by for example challenging them to drop unjustified requirements for Finnish language skills.
Any closing thoughts?
Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that the consultant environment where we operate can seem hard and cold and like a place where you should have certain qualities or even wear certain clothes. At Capgemini, support for that sort of stereotypical thinking has been gone for at least 10 years.
Now that I think about it, it’s really difficult to describe an “average employee”. We don’t really have one, and nor do we want to. Everyone is encouraged to be their unique self.”
Leena Kirjavainen, HR Director