Thumbs-Up for Michelin’s Diversity
Its tyres may all be black and round but the team at Michelin are a far more diverse group, and this has been acknowledged by a group of French organisations specialising in issues related to diversity. On October 1, Michelin was awarded a Trophée de la Diversité 2009 in recognition of its commitment to innovative methods of promoting diversity.
In particular, Michelin was singled out for its range of diversity training programs that extend across the entire company. Between 2007 and 2009, these programs were provided initially for members of the 25 executive committees, then for managers, human resources teams and, lastly, for production clerks, a category that, notes Michelin, rarely receives this type of training. The tyre maker states its commitment to creating a culture of diversity within the company is reflected in the wide range of employees who take part in the programs and the fact that training is mandatory for certain job functions, notably managers at all levels, as well as recruiters and career supervisors.
In all, 2,000 managers, 120 personnel department members and 400 clerks were trained on Michelin sites throughout France. In the years ahead, this commitment to raising awareness will be pursued with the goal of reaching all 23,000 Michelin employees in France by 2012. A special module for employee representatives will also be deployed in the near future.
Combining theory, practice, group work, individual assignments and role-playing, the training programmes are organised around small groups of approximately ten people. The programmes, Michelin explains, help employees to recognise discriminatory situations, avoid stereotyping, become familiar with laws and regulations, and work as members of diverse teams. They also encourage participants to undertake meaningful initiatives that promote diversity. In this way, employees can buy into the process and become active supporters of diversity within the organisation.
The training initiatives are part of a diversity policy launched by Michelin in 2005. Since then a worldwide diversity manager has been appointed and full-time diversity facilitators have been named for each host country, with two each in France and the United States. Quantitative indicators and objectives have been set up in each country and a large number of agreements have been signed. In 2009, for example, agreements on gender diversity and telecommuting were signed in France.
Michelin’s approach also encompasses a global network of 600 diversity “ambassadors” that identify best practices throughout the company and encourage employees to pursue individual initiatives. For example, around ten hearing- and speech-impaired individuals were hired as production employees in Brazil and a Franco-German daycare centre was set up at a Michelin plant in Germany. Michelin wants to promote employee involvement in this type of project – even on a small scale – in the belief that an individual approach will help spread and lastingly instil respect for diversity across the entire organisation.