“Diversity in the workplace: a win-win situation”

Stronger through diversity
Behind the scenes
13 November 2017

Air Liquide regards diversity in the workplace as a win-win situation. On the one hand, because it is good that as many people as possible – men and women of different ages, of different abilities and of different nationalities – should be given equal employment opportunities. And, on the other hand, because Air Liquide itself also benefits from a diverse workforce.

People from different backgrounds – gender, age, nationality, ability – often look at challenges and problems in a different way. And that is why they come up with different solutions to these challenges and problems. For a company like Air Liquide, this represents added value because it increases the chance of original, smart and creative solutions.

Five pillars for diversity

“We have five pillars of diversity in Air Liquide’s social policy,” explains Karine Boissy-Rousseau, Managing Director of Air Liquide Benelux. “These are gender, education, age, disability and nationality. I myself am especially active – together with others – in finding ways to stimulate and support the employment of disabled people.”

Towards an international structure

“There are already several initiatives in this field within Air Liquide, but so far these have not been internationally structured,” explains Martine Schneider, Human Resource Director of Air Liquide Benelux. “As of 16 November – that day sees the official launch of HandivAirsity – the different countries will be able to use a European network to exchange ideas, initiatives and best practices. A number of the current initiatives that are working well will also be incorporated into HandivAirsity. One of these initiatives is that we’re looking for suppliers who employ people with disabilities. Of course we select our suppliers on the basis of their quality and price, but the diversity of their staff is an additional factor that we want to take into account.”

Spontaneous help

“We’re also looking for methods – usually in a spontaneous way – to help staff members who experience unexpected disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, to get back to work. For example, a larger computer screen could be provided for a visually impaired person.”

“All these initiatives will be integrated under the ‘HandivAirsity’ umbrella as of 16 November. HandivAirsity focuses on all Air Liquide departments within Europe and wants to enter into a dialogue with other companies and organisations. HandivAirsity is based on three pillars: ‘Anywhere’, ‘Anybody’ and ‘Anyone’. ‘Anywhere’ means that we want to set up a European network of Air Liquide branches where we exchange knowledge and experience on the employment of disabled people and where we promote the employment of disabled people. ‘Anybody’ means that we want to look beyond the human resources department. It’s our intention to involve everyone at Air Liquide, because it concerns everyone. ‘Anyone’ means that we want to exchange ideas with other companies and organisations. We’re currently working on several initiatives that will be developed in 2018 and in the following years.”