With the logistics sector often misunderstood on its nature towards women, Mario Ceccon, GEODIS’ Executive Vice President Group HR, shares how the firm is busting the stereotype - starting with a woman in its CEO seat.

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The logistics industry is one that is misunderstood on its nature towards women. "It suffers from the image of a hard and unwelcoming sector for women," Mario Ceccon, GEODIS’ Executive Vice President Group Human Resources, points out

However, GEODIS, a logistics & supply chain company, is busting this stereotype - with woman leader Marie-Christine Lombard sitting firm in the CEO seat - what Ceccon affirms is "proof that women have access to the highest executive positions at GEODIS". The firm also has the ambition to achieve 25% of management positions represented by women. 

In this exclusive with Aditi Sharma Kalra (with inputs from Priya Sunil), he delves into how GEODIS - headquartered in France with 41,837 employees across the world - is leading the charge in supporting women leadership at the firm, what his own pledge for gender equality is, and more.

"One of our objectives is to improve the image that transport and logistics companies have inherited. For this, we work with all our Line for Businesses and Regions to communicate in a better way about the accessibility of our profession to women. In particular, thanks to our role models and the recent evolution of our industry due to increased innovation," Ceccon explains. 

Further, he notes, when it comes to a culture of gender equality, it must be worked on at all levels of the organisation. How then, is GEODIS doing this?

We rely on our internal women's support group, the GEODIS Women's Network, which has more than 350 active members, to relay all the local and global mechanisms put in place to promote the professional career of women.

"Among them, the MANAGE training programme, two mentoring programmes (in the US and in Asia Pacific), and a training programme designed for women, still at the developmental stage for the moment.

"We also rely on an external accreditation: GEEIS (Gender Equality European and International Standard) to ensure that we all strive in the right direction, and on all levels, to promote parity."

Keeping in mind that the GEEIS audits take into account the size, strategy, culture and maturity level of the country to be accredited, GEODIS' deployment plan includes the accreditation of 12 countries over three years, with specific coaching to best support each country in achieving their goal.

"We want our country organisations to maintain an ethos of continuous improvement and for accreditation to remain a benchmark for assessing progress through a renewal process," Ceccon highlights.

With all these in place, where does the firm stand with reaching its goals at the moment?

According to Ceccon, today, GEODIS' woman employees represent 40% of its workforce and 20% of its senior executives. "We also measure the distribution of this population in the trades and look at how to attain parity in the functions where they are more poorly represented."

And the results extend beyond numbers - with Ceccon sharing that the firm has also benefited in other ways - with talent and creativity. "The more a company grows, the more talent it requires to meet its customers' challenges. Talents are found in the diversity of our profiles, whether they are female or male, competence and motivation are the main assets, yet not the only ones to remember.

This diversity allows the emergence of ideas and promotes creativity, a source of innovation and solutions in the services we offer.

How France and China approach gender equality differently

Digging a little into Ceccon's experience, as someone who has worked across both China and France, he explains that with each market, comes its own approach to gender equality.

What works well in China, he shares, is social progression, whether you are a woman or man. "There is little difference in the private sector between women and men and there is a willingness to let both genders progress."

In France, he notes: "There is a longer tradition of male dominance that is changing very rapidly in favour of parity, and that is very good! Promoting women to higher jobs is definitely something we need to keep doing in France in order to catch up."

Rounding up the interview, we asked Ceccon what his personal pledge is to building a gender-equal environment. To this, he responds:

I like giving opportunities to employees to grow. Sometimes women tend to be more reticent about their opportunities to progress; they take less chances. I personally encourage them to take risks and learn, it is the only way we progress. My personal pledge is to DARE!


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