The year 2020 was full of many challenges, including ensuring safe working conditions for our employees in the face of the health crisis. Thanks to the organisation already in place and their collective ability to adapt, we were able to overcome them together.
Always open to innovation
Since the time we came into existence 70 years ago, we have always strived to provide the best possible working conditions for each of our employees. This involves initiatives like, but not limited to, training, continuous upgrade of equipment and improvement in the ways of working by leveraging the latest technologies. This has allowed us to evolve from a 100% paper approach of the 1950’s, to desktops, and from desktops to laptops, whose efficiency and practicality are now helping us gradually turn to zero paper and a flex office organisation – a new and evolved way of working that is more flexible, open, conducive to teamwork and homeworking at the same time.
Indeed, thanks to the systematic digitalisation of our processes, we’re able to allow a large proportion of our employees to work from home or in a much more flexible manner. As a result, even when they’re physically away from their offices, they can continue to carry out their day-to-day tasks while maintaining a strong connection with their colleagues, as well as with our clients and partners. This also allows them to benefit from a better work-life balance.
A health crisis that forced the world to review its working methods
Thanks to this progress, we were able to adapt almost immediately when the health crisis hit, to preserve the health and safety of all our employees while ensuring the continuity of our activities. In all the countries where we are present, we put in place specific action plans to respond to this exceptional situation. Homeworking became the general rule for a large majority of our employees, to whom we provided the necessary equipment and organised online trainings on remote working and management to help them navigate this change.
During the most acute phase of the crisis, 95% of our employees worked from home. For the few teams that had to go to the offices to ensure the continuity of certain activities that could not be done remotely, we did everything to facilitate and secure their commute and the time at the office (with, depending on the country, reimbursement of taxi fares, delivery of meal trays, etc.).
Be it during or post the lockdown, specific health measures are applied across our premises: wearing of masks, more frequent cleaning and disinfection, use of sanitiser gel, regulatory distance between desks, etc. Everything is done to make our employees feel safe.
Employees who feel supported
In the interest of ensuring their well-being, we conducted internal surveys to find out how they had been feeling during the crisis. 89% of our employees said they were satisfied with their working conditions and 90% felt they were well-connected to their teams during this difficult period. More than 9 out of 10 employees said they had received the support they needed. *
The health and safety of our 3,600 employees is and always has been our top priority. Thanks to our digital transformation programme and the collective unwavering mobilisation, we were able to reconcile security and business continuity in our 20 countries throughout the health crisis.
*Results of an internal survey sent in April 2020 to our 3,600 employees
BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions is made of 3,600 people in 20 countries all over the world: committed women and men who have made the company a major player of the professional equipment finance sector. To mark 70 years of our existence this year, we look back at the values and commitments that have guided us during this time, and look ahead at the challenges in the future.
Good Place to Work since 1950
Since our creation, we’ve worked tirelessly to be a good place to work, as described by a former employee in an interview for our internal magazine in 1978: “What struck me particularly was the warmth among colleagues. We were all on the same page, were well taken care of, said hello, it was really like one big family!”
“I am proud of this legacy and am committed to ensuring that this notion of “Good Place to Work” is present in all the countries where we are based,” says Béatrice Le Terrec, our Director of Human Resources since September 2019.
The role of Human Resources is to ensure that the company has the resources it needs, at the right place and at the right time to implement its strategy and to ensure its growth. Our mission is to attract and retain the talents we need. This mission goes hand in hand with understanding the needs and aspirations of the teams and analysing how the company evolves over time.
Our business, being at the heart of the real economy and moving everyday towards the circular economy, aims to give a true sense of meaning to what we do. This philosophy extends to the company culture we create. Therefore, for us, building a unifying and inclusive value system is crucial to be able to foster commitment across teams and to ensure that they embrace and embody these values every day.
Diversity and equal opportunity: enablers for collective success
We want that within BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, professional opportunities be defined by skills and merit alone. “I hold this very dear to me and have been mentoring young women for several years now, both through the MixCity association and through a mentoring programme launched within BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions to push for greater representation of women in the top management,” comments Charlotte Dennery, CEO of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions. But what we aim to achieve goes beyond gender equality, it covers all forms of discrimination, whether related to age, ethnicity, health conditions, sexual orientation, … As a company that works with all types of businesses and sectors of activity, it is our duty to represent the society in which we live, in all its diversity.
Supporting change through training, mobility and new ways of working
Being a Good Place to Work involves many other initiatives.
It starts with the integration of our new recruits who have been participating in onboarding programmes since 1974.
It also means complementing that with continuous learning opportunities to boost one’s knowledge and technical skills, through training. Investing in training our people is a tradition as old as we ourselves are because to be able to best support our clients and partners, we need to be at the forefront of the latest trends and technologies and know-how.
For example, we have set up an upskilling programme to enable employees to acquire new business skills. “I took up a web development course in parallel to my work in the Digital Factory team. Being trained in new technologies has enabled me to take a fresh look at my daily work, discover new working methods and gain a better understanding of the challenges of the future, which is very important because the future of the company is prepared for today“, explains Vincent Roger, who works in the IT department.
We have always accompanied our staff through major technological changes: in 1997 we organised trainings relating to Internet, while it was still new. In 2016, we implemented a digitalisation programme to familiarise them with the new tools and working methods.
“This programme allowed them to participate in digital workshops and mentoring programmes, enabling the most experienced employees to train those less comfortable with the new digital tools. We also invested in brainstorming and co-working spaces, conducive to the development of collaborative methods and innovation,” explains François-Régis Martin, our Chief Digital Officer.
But accompanying our teams goes beyond that. It also involves encouraging internal promotions and geographical mobility. “I am the perfect example of the opportunities offered by BNP Paribas”, insists Béatrice Le Terrec, “In my career spanning more than 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work in very different roles across many entities of the BNP Paribas Group.” To facilitate these processes, we’ve developed, for example, mentoring programmes, internal mobility tools, and “Short Term Assignments” that allow employees to do short-term missions of 1-6 months in another country.
“The Short Term Assignment gave me the opportunity to join a new team for a few months. This helped me rediscover the company by expanding my horizons, and enabled me to broaden my professional network. If I get the opportunity, I’d do it again!” says Lynn Moerenhout, a Belgium-based employee who participated in a 2-month Short Term Assignment in France.
A global vision for the challenges ahead
Our presence in 20 countries, mainly in Europe but also in China and North America, gives us an international vision of our business. “One HR” is the HR version of that vision. It aims to diffuse the same culture of commitment across different countries through a unified HR community, while taking into account local specificities.
We want to encourage our teams to work more in project mode, promote coaching-based positive management, continuous training and mobility and diversity in all its forms. “One HR” will help us to address all of these challenges in a coherent and organised manner.
This vision is part of a broader strategy of the BNP Paribas Group to be a sustainable global leader and an inclusive place to learn, grow and innovate. The Group was awarded Top Employers Europe certification for the seventh consecutive year in 2020, with certification in eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Ukraine and Turkey. The certification especially highlights the Group’s strong corporate culture, excellent employee career management and succession planning, performance management strategy and strong leadership development.
A year back, the General Management Committee of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions decided to launch a mentoring programme with the aim to reduce gender inequalities between men and women. Each member of the General Management Committee therefore mentored 3 women during one year.
Mentoring: an enabler for professional growth
The decision came into effect after realizing that when important senior positions needed to be filled , there were very few women candidates who applied despite a very impressive pool of female talent in the company. It was therefore quite clear to the General Management Committee that the reason behind it were the cultural and societal unconscious bias which often act as barriers and hamper the women from evolving in their careers.
Which is why Charlotte Dennery, the CEO, along with the 3 other members of the General Management Committee – Pascal Layan (Deputy CEO), Wolfgang Pinner (COO) and Delphine Roché (Director of Transformation and IT) – mentored 3 women each during one year.
Pascal, the HeForShe ambassador for BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions shared the different milestones of this programme on his LinkedIn account. He said:
In 2019, it is simply unacceptable that an individual’s career prospects be defined by their gender. This programme is a manifestation of the General Management Committee’s strong commitment to promote equal professional opportunity at BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions to ensure that each person finds their place within the company.
Only a piece of a much bigger puzzle
While the programme has been a success, it is important to remember that one initiative alone cannot help bridge years of disparity between men and women. We therefore need to support this initiative with many other concrete actions and policies in this direction.
Here’s what Charlotte Dennery had to say on the topic:
This programme won’t be able to singlehandedly fight against gender inequalities at the workplace. Before anything else, we need to create a pool of talented women who would be able to hold strategic managerial positions in the company in the years to come. It is also important for them to have role models that can inspire them. This is something, however, that needs to start at the grassroot level, in the way education is provided to young women, even in the primary schools, so that they are aware of all the possible career paths open to them, including the ones that are traditionally more masculine, like the scientific field. It is therefore a long-term endeavour..
The programme is therefore part of many other initiatives, one that will be renewed in 2020 but will be open to all the employees this time, men or women. The company has simultaneously committed itself to the cause by giving it the voice it needs and deserves, be it internally or externally, by raising awareness in the press, on social media, through internal and external events like the Global Women’s Forum.
In addition, BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions has put in place concrete human resources policies to:
- Ensure equal pay for equal work
- Allow employees to have a better work-life balance, through the possibility of homeworking for up to 2 days a week
- Guaranteeing a safe working environment for everyone by fighting against all forms of discrimination and harassment and fostering a culture of mutual respect among colleagues
These measures in favour of diversity are part of the overall commitment of the company which aims to create value for the economy, the society, the environment and the employees. This commitment is modelled on the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all member stated of the United Nations and refers to Goal number 5 (gender equality).