Acting in diversity
Actions undertaken by Colas in favor of diversity and equal opportunity highlight the social component of responsible development, an issue to which Colas pays particular attention in a number of fields. The Group’s diversity policy aims to allow all talents, in particular those who have difficulties accessing employment, to express themselves and play a role in the collective success of the Group. As such, it is as much an economic performance lever as a means to generate individual employee well-being at work.
Given the challenges and particularities involved, Colas’ diversity and equal opportunity policy is based upon 4 cornerstones: social inclusion, disability, gender diversity and age management. Each theme includes the notion of diversity of origin in the broadest sense (nationality, ethnicity, geographical, social, educational, culture, etc.), the very foundation of the Human Resources policy in this field. Individual Group companies implement the overall policy at their own pace, taking account of their specific needs, but with a common and shared target to pave the way forward on these issues.
In the field of Social Inclusion, the Colas Group in 2011 set a goal to “better integrate and accompany those who have little or no job qualifications or who have been unemployed for a long period of time, in order to give them a chance, thus boosting the local economic and social environment.” In France, to reach this goal, Colas launched an ambitious equal opportunity program to provide people who are difficult to employ, especially those who benefit from social employment clauses, with a genuine inclusion program based on developing skills, to ensure job retention. The program offers training for the unemployed and for Colas’ field managers, along with actions in collaboration with partner associations who work in favor of employment.
In 2014, the United States Embassy in France awarded Colas with the 2014 Washburne Award for Innovation in equal opportunity employment.
In the field of Disabilities, Colas signed an agreement from 2011 to 2013 with the Agefiph (French Agency for Employment of the Disabled), helping to structure and consolidate the Group’s policy in this area and create genuine impetus. Awareness-raising actions were rolled out (poster campaign, advertisements on disability), along with training for managers and drives to improve job retention and inclusion (210 employees with temporary or permanent status). The signing of this agreement helped boost the employment rate of people with disabilities within the Group from 2.10% to 3% over the period 2011-2014.
Determined to continue their efforts in the field, Colas companies in France signed their own partnerships with Agefiph in September 2014. These agreements are tailor-made to fit with the issues that each subsidiary must face. Six themes are covered: education and training, communication, recruitment and integration, career support, job retention and collaboration with the protected sector. They aim to strengthen actions at the local level, with a priority focus on workers, in connection with regional Agefiph delegations and all local actors committed to the employment of people with disabilities (Sameth, Cap Emploi, occupational physicians, etc.).
On gender diversity, Colas subsidiaries negotiate and implement agreements to enhance professional and wage equality. Above and beyond these agreements, the goal is to strengthen the role played by women in the Group's business as there are not enough female employees in the Group, particularly in field operations. Changing how people perceive its businesses, attracting more women, showing them that they have their place at Colas, these are the targets that the Group has set. To achieve this, Colas is working to raise awareness of its managers on the theme of gender diversity, and is committed to providing a better work and life balance, which should benefit both men and women. It is also important to ensure that schools and universities, particularly engineering programs, are more open to women in order to have a broader recruitment pool.
In terms of age management, following the first Group level agreement on older employees signed in December 2009, the Colas Group negotiated another agreement in September 2013 regarding the Generation Contract. The agreement was drawn up on the basis of a preliminary diagnosis, and contains three main components: the sustained integration of young people; employment of older employees; the transmission of knowledge and expertise. By signing these agreements, Colas highlights its focus on the employees concerned. Above and beyond best practices (new recruits, gestures and postures training, mentoring, etc.), the Group is implementing new tools and practices to promote improved working conditions, anticipate career development, adapt career-end positions, and facilitate the transition between employment and retirement. Moreover, to ensure the transmission of knowledge and skills, Colas encourages the creation of mixed-generation teams (young and older employees) and mentoring.