Excelling in a diverse, inclusive environment
Accelerated by the global pandemic, the world is racing towards greater digitization as new, disruptive ways to engage with technology and people become commonplace. Digital skills are now essential in every sector. The ability for organizations to foster continued learning in the workplace will prove crucial in future-proofing career paths and ensuring business health and longevity. Working remotely and serving customers in new and digital ways is now a given that will significantly transform our work and require us to develop new technical and leadership skills.
When we emerge from the pandemic and move towards a new normal, we will need to develop, nurture, and retain digital skills more than ever before. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has a crucial role to play in developing these skills, making it critical that this remains at the forefront of business priorities.
Head of HR, Transformation Programmes, Atos
The global pandemic has accelerated the move towards a digital world of work.
As key nurturers of digital skills, the tech industry must do its part in driving and fostering inclusive cultures to broaden the applicant pool and inspire talent of all ages, genders, and ethnicities to pursue a career in the industry. For real progress to be made, it is no longer acceptable for businesses to merely pledge their commitment to tackling the issue. They need to take a multi-dimensional approach to ensuring that a diverse range of thoughts and skillsets is built into the very foundation of the organization.
The business case for D&I is now better understood and appreciated. Diversity has been shown to boost innovation, help remove unconscious bias, provide companies with wider market awareness, and ultimately improve the bottom line. The war for talent remains fierce and candidate expectations are evolving. Businesses must conduct themselves in a fair and ethical way, and how candidates feel during the hiring experience is key.
Fostering a diverse workplace isn’t just about finding new talent; it’s also about developing the talent already within your ranks. People with different roles and different experiences can provide unique perspectives when it comes to creative problem solving. Plugging existing gaps in a company by offering employees continued education and training opportunities through a reskilling program can boost job satisfaction, help retain a competitive edge, and bring out the full potential of the existing workforce. Companies can transfer skilled employees into many non-obvious roles.
For example: a social media specialist with a basic understanding of the cybersecurity discipline may also find their talents can be transferred into working on SAP, AI or automation technologies.
Internal First program
At Atos, we have recognized that we need to transform the way we support our people to make the most of their careers. We have invested in several key areas, including skill development, talent development, leadership, and diversity and inclusion. In 2020, we began delivering all programs in a fully virtual mode, achieving 84,841 digital certifications globally and launching four new academies to add to our portfolio.
Learning and development is key to the development of our employees and evolution of our skills portfolio, we are proud to report more than 4.56 million hours of education for 2020, and 54,000 employees are members of our learning collaboration space.
Since 2016, we have been committed to our Internal First program, to promote internal mobility when filling any vacant position. This commitment signifies that our people can develop their experience, skills and employability. In 2020, we filled 83% of all positions with existing employees (excluding entry-level roles), a 2% improvement compared to 2019. Overall, we adopt a holistic approach to career management, supporting employees with self-development, career planning, understanding the organization, training and development. We ran 14 dedicated talent and career webinars that were attended by 6,000+ employees.
The sustainable and long-term employability of staff is the cornerstone of our talent, development, and training policies. Enhanced in 2019, these programs reinforce employee capabilities and accompany them along their career paths.
We currently have 8 different tracks — each focused on a specific target group with its own needs and wants, enabling our employees to design their own career paths and allowing Atos to build a diverse, talented workforce.
Good examples of our talent development programs include:
- Gold for Business Leaders— 80 employees (40% female in 2020%, up 15%) are nominated annually by the Atos executive and top management to take part in this prestigious program. In cooperation with HEC Paris, Gold for Business Leaders aims to develop the Company’s future leaders and create ambassadors for our values (alumni is now over 500 employees).
- Gold for Technology Leaders — Launched in 2013, this program was developed in cooperation with the Institute for Manufacturing Education and Consultancy Services (IfM ECS) of Cambridge University and the Software Innovation Campus Paderborn (SICP) of Paderborn University. The goal is to give to talented Atos experts the vision and capability to define innovative end-to-end solutions, helping clients gain competitive advantage. In 2020, we increased the intake to 70 individuals (24% female, up 9%).
- Digital certifications– To support employee development and address the fast-evolving needs of our clients, we developed this certification program with our key strategic partners. Approximately 85,000 certifications were awarded in 2020, with a particular focus on key digital technologies like SAP, cloud, Microsoft, Google, and AWS.
- Academies– Co-developed with several of our strategic partners, in 2020 we supported more than 11,000 of our colleagues with their ongoing development, including cloud (2,161 employees), SAP (756), cybersecurity (1,102) and project management (7,400).
2020 was an unprecedented year, and every employee had to face the impact of social isolation, increased racial tensions, the economic downturn, and the cancellation of personal and private plans due to the pandemic. Recognizing that employees are weary, worried, and worn out, Atos responded with a range of global initiatives and innovative new ways to connect with employees through our D&I offerings and the We are Atos program.
In Northern Europe, we launched a virtual holiday camp to help working parents who suddenly also had to manage childcare and home-schooling. Aimed at children aged 5-11, the virtual camp delivered creative educational sessions such as science parties, story time, French lessons, sign language and covered important topics such as diversity and the environment. Over 30 sessions were delivered, and we received fantastic feedback from those who participated.
We are Atos
The We are Atos team took a leading role in initiating and supporting initiatives that strengthen the human aspects of our collaboration. Our wellbeing days hosted global events centered around physical and mental health, celebrations, social activities, charity, and family initiatives — with testimonials where colleagues shared their home working experiences and how they made it work for them.
Built around the theme of Care, Collaborate and Celebrate, our topical webinars addressed the challenges our teams were facing, including:
- Weary, Worried, and Worn Out: The impact of COVID-19 on your employees. This session provided Atos leaders with insights into top-of-mind topics for each diversity dimension (age, gender, ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation).
- Pandemic and Zoom fatigue: We provided insights and information on how to combat the exhaustion that people are experiencing a year into the pandemic restrictions.
- Leading Through Adversity: This session offered practical tips to promote productivity and avoid burnout.
- World Health and Safety Day: Topics covered included the importance of work/life balance, ways to positively impact mental and physical wellbeing, and ergonomic tips.
- Zero Discrimination Day: This session reiterated our zero tolerance policies and showcased our programs to eradicate bias from the workplace.
- Equity Matters: This three-part series focused on intersectionality, microaggressions, and recognizing cultural and generational preferences, providing the foundation for our focus on inclusivity and belonging.
- The EmERGe Affinity Group Training Program: Designed to provide foundational training to support participants in their roles as diversity and inclusion ambassadors at Atos, this program is a true differentiator. Participants benefit from four distinct learning opportunities, notably active listening, empathy, creating inclusive communications, and promoting inclusivity within the organization.
Wellness is a highest priority for all of us, specially in this time of work from home.
Our CEO recognizes the need for balanced gender representation in our executive pool, so in 2020 we created a global mentoring program to support the development of 350+ women who were identified as potential executive candidates. As a result, increased the proportion of women executives from 13% in February 2020 to 30% in September 2020. In 2021, these women and many new candidates continue to be guided through cohort-based learning opportunities. A recent survey shows increased perceptions of trust (up 23%), confidence (up 20%) and support (up 28%) by the participants
As we strive to achieve gender balance, we have implemented gender hiring boards to ensure that we present a balanced slate of candidates to Atos employees conducting interviews across the globe. This approach is supported by research from Harvard which found that unless a gender balanced slate exists, the likelihood of a woman being hired is 0%.
We have also launched new, innovative collaboration opportunities, including:
- Talking in Circles sessions: Developed to provide an avenue for discussion of D&I topics such as racism, ageism, ableism, sexism, etc. and to share what Atos is doing to address these issues.
- Culture Club: During the pandemic, Atos moved to a new operating model and people from different cultures became part of the same organization. To ensure mutually beneficial interactions, we launched a program to provide insights on how different cultures prefer to structure meetings, introduce one another, and their preferred methods of communication.
- Leaders Who Are Readers: Suggests books focused on inclusivity and exclusivity so our people leaders can learn practical ways to lead with their employees’ best interests in mind.
We delivered large scale events 100% virtually, including International Women’s Day, offering webinars on networking, gender bias, overcoming the glass cliff paradox and others. We also held our annual gender equity essay contest, conducted a selfie card social media campaign and spotlighted videos featuring influential Atos women.
As we continue to adapt to meet the ever-changing rules of engagement during the pandemic, Atos employs various connection points to keep D&I topics top-of-mind for our people. Our goal is to ensure that we are positioned as the diverse, ethical, and inclusive employer of choice in the tech space, and we believe that our efforts to reach #techquity are critical to our success as a company.
Our employer brand – The Future is our Choice – sums up what it’s like to work at Atos, the opportunities available if you join us and the flexible career path for current employees.
When you join Atos, the future is your choice — and you are free to be the CEO of your own career!
At Atos, as a global leader in secure and decarbonized digital business technology, our purpose is to help design the future of the information space. Together we bring the diversity of our people’s skills and backgrounds to make the right choices for our clients, for our company and for our own futures. At Atos, the future is our choice.
Drawing on 25 years’ experience in several UK&I and International HR roles, David Hill is responsible for leading the key HR transformation programmes at Atos. Of note, during the last 18 months David played an instrumental role in the development and successful implementation the global ‘Spring’ Transformation, resulting in the implementation of an Industry led organisation to drive customer obsession.
David is CIPD qualified, has a Management Diploma in Business and HR Management (Oxford Brookes University) and a degree in History (University of Hull).