“A women’s world, a better world?” and gender diversity at Mazars

Muriel de Saint Sauveur, presents the book which she published for Mazars last October and more generally, diversity at Mazars.

International Agency Marketing & Communication Director, Diversity Director

1/ Muriel de Saint Sauveur, you published the book “A women’s world, a better world?” which is a collection of 100 interviews with women from around the world. Can you tell us about this work?

 The idea came to me when I was involved in managing diversity problems at Mazars. We recruit approximately 50% women and 50% men in the world. Unfortunately, at partner level, we have no more than 14% women. A study carried out internally, revealed, most notably, one fact: women leave the business between 30 and 35 years old to start a family and take up a less “demanding” role. These departures lead to a loss of talent as well as a financial loss, because we invest massively in training our young employees. Finally, this makes the image of the business less attractive for women, even though we make sure that we apply our values of diversity on a daily basis. The desire to write this book was strengthened by my visits to our offices throughout the world. These visits allowed me to see the differences in the lives of women in different countries. I wanted to give them a voice and see what they would change in the world if they had the power. This is the question that was asked to 100 women in 33 countries. These 100 women inhabit very different worlds from each other (medicine, photography, politics, human resources…) and come from both businesses and associations.

 

2) What are the main lessons to be learnt from the book? Do you have a response to the question asked?

 It goes without saying that the world would be a better place if gender diversity existed everywhere; unfortunately, we are far from seeing this.

Numerous studies, for example by Mckinsey (‘‘Women Matter’’)  or by Michel Ferrary, a researcher and professor at the University of Geneva (“Women:  do they influence business performance? A study of businesses on the CAC 40 over the 2002-2006 period”). It shows that businesses with more than a 1/3 women or 3 women on the Board of Directors perform better.

“Men are optimistic about science and focus on the short term. Women are optimistic about humanity and focus on the long term.” This is the assessment, which Michael Labet, Vice-President of Sociovision-Cofremca, develops in his introduction to my book “A women’s world, a better world?” Their expectations are different and their priorities too. Women focus on education. They refer to an education which teaches us how to live together, understand one another and appreciate different religions and cultures – not an elitist education.  They know that education is the essential basis of all change. However education, and education of women, takes substantive work and is something to be developed over the long term. It is an area which has “burnt the fingers” of many ministers. Yet, if we look at the Davos study alongside 114 countries, the best economically performing countries are those which respect gender diversity.

In business, women have a strong desire to progress. However they want companies to integrate their differences. The women whom I interviewed demand these differences, regardless of their country of origin. At this point, I should point out that two currents of feminist thought exist: Universalism which thinks men and women are totally equal and identical and that there is no place for specific measures for women; and Differentialism which views men and women as equal but different, and believes it is necessary to treat the two genders in a different manner.

3/ What place does gender diversity have at Mazars? Do you have a few examples to give?

At Mazars, we have a global policy and we help each country within our group according to their needs and challenges.

We have circulated our strategy and our objectives within the Group. It is for each country to decide on the areas which they want to work on. Diversity is a subject which is too culturally specific to be able to give strict and identical guidelines for each country. It is implausible to believe that two countries, for example India and Luxembourg, are going to have the same questions and are going to treat them in the same way. To date, three guides have been produced on maternity leave, diversity in general and on the work-life balance.

The Group Human Resources department has set up a “Women’s Talent Pool” which brings together women of high potential from around the world. If we agree that there are not enough women at a high level, we must find them in middle management and support them in their advancement. We are going to continue our assignment by launching a survey in order to share best practices. Since we want to involve the whole of the Group, we are going to participate in an international competition organised by StudyKa on the “Future of gender equality within business”, which aims to offer innovative ideas to encourage diversity. We have considered including men in the discussion, because, in most cases, what women are asking for is also beneficial to men and above all, it certainly does not work against them. A world of equality must be shared.