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Christophe Mansuy (Colas): "Diversity puts a company in the performance fast lane”
Through its ACT initiative, the human resources department at civil engineering firm Colas aims to foster a positive culture, promote the health and wellbeing of staff, and maintain an advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent. Leaders League spoke to Colas’ head of HR, Christophe Mansuy.
Leaders League: Christophe, you recently became head of HR at Colas, what are the main staff-related challenges you face?
Christophe Mansuy: Central to my mission is the ACT (Act & Commit Together) project, through which Colas aims to attract, develop and retain talent via the application of managerial excellence. Staff identify with our company values, namely caring, sharing and daring, which we exhibit on a daily basis. Interlinked, they form the basis of our culture and require constant care and attention on our part. We identified these values after a period of self-examination, and they are now essential leadership qualities for Colas managers to possess.
Colas seems to have put a great deal of time and effort into promoting a positive management culture. How do you help managers embody this culture?
Through our dedicated in-house program, UNI, which offers training and insight on each stage in the working life of an employee, and several workshops allowing them to develop their managerial posture. Creating a performance climate, managing remotely, interacting with all stakeholders, these form the basis of management apprenticeships at Colas, and prepare managers for the challenges which await.
You need to think outside the box to win the talent war
Since the start of 2023, our leadership essentials program of online training has been in place, offering tutorials, articles and reports, in addition to speeches and interviews by management coaches. This puts a wide range of content at the fingertips of managers, and is something which helps build and reinforce management fundamentals.
Colas prioritizes diversity. How does that play out in practical terms?
Diversity is not just a source of richness, it also puts a company in the performance fast lane. Having been lucky enough to get to work internationally, I have always been in favor of diversity. Our job is to help staff progress in their careers, irrespective of their origin, gender or level of training. Everyone has to be able to dream of one day sitting in the big chair as CEO of Colas. Our teams are part of something bigger than themselves, and it’s our job to nourish their hopes and dreams.
In addition, diversity at Colas means hiring more women, people with handicaps, or those who have lived elsewhere. To facilitate this, we train our managers to recognize conscious and unconscious bias, and discrimination in all its forms.
What concrete action has taken place?
As soon as we begin the hiring process, the first criteria is matching skills to need, but Colas has a vast array of in-house training options available and we are able to teach staff each of our professions. Attitude is, to us, vital to the successful integration of a new recruit into the company. In the United States, for example, there is a dearth of truck drivers, so we sometimes hire people for the position who don’t have a driver’s license, since it’s a skill they can acquire in the course of a few weeks. You need to think outside the box to win the talent war.
For each opening, the group puts together a shortlist of diverse candidates and then chooses the best person for the job. In a situation where skills are broadly similar, I suggest hiring the female candidate. Women represent 20% of managerial staff at Colas at present, and that percentage is growing.
To promote gender parity, we have launched initiatives to increase the proportion of female staff at each level of the company. We go into schools and universities to promote careers in the company and have internships that let students discover the various career options Colas can provide.
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