“Schneider Electric builds a culture of respect where everyone feels safe to be their authentic selves. We are 100% committed to inclusion and our policies reflect this commitment to our employees,” said Chief HR Officer at Schneider Electric Charise LE.
LE told Daily News Egypt that the company invests more in training and qualifying employees, reaching approximately 15% of total annual people cost including investment in technology and training internally and externally.
LE has also been a member of the Executive Committee as of 1 April 2020. She started at Schneider Electric in 2007 and worked in many different HR positions within the group for the last 15 years. In 2005, she was appointed human resources manager for Clipsal China — a local brand of Schneider Electric.
In 2007, she became human resources director for Schneider in the Asia Pacific region and in 2009, she took the position of HR senior VP for China Operations.
Since 2015, LE has led the HR Strategy & Global HR Service of the Group. Charise started her career in 1995 and began at Siemens as an HR Specialist and continued to move through different HR positions in companies such as General Electric and Pillsbury China.
Please tell us about the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was not easy. The value of the company drives the decisions that we make, as, during these difficult times, we have to take decisions to protect employees and prioritise employees’ safety in the first place. There were some sacrifices we had to make to protect them and preserve their jobs and these measures helped us stay in good shape.
What are the skills that Schneider needs and how important are they in daily life?
Skills contribute to achieving the company’s mission and contribute to its sustainability. We need to recruit people that have more consultative skills in terms of dealing with customers, which is also important in operations and other aspects of business.
Being a woman, did you face any challenges in your job?
Schneider Electric builds a culture of respect where everyone feels safe to be their authentic selves. We are 100% committed to inclusion and our policies reflect this commitment to our employees.
Accordingly, I do not feel any problems. Nevertheless, being a woman gave me some advantages, as this company totally believes in diversity and continues to allow women into leadership positions, supports them, and accelerates their careers.
Moreover, we want to provide equal opportunities to everyone everywhere and to ensure employees feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best. Above all, Schneider has been included for the fourth year in a row in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, ranking among 380 global companies and one of 17 in the industrial sector.
What is the percentage of female employees in the company?
Everything starts with a goal. For us, that means aiming for a gender balance of 50/40/30 by 2025. This means that 50% of all hires, 40% of managers, and 30% of senior managers are women.
We also always have specific programmes for raising the capacities of women in the company and mentorship programmes.
Overall, we have a very good percentage of qualifying women, not only in specific roles but also across the company in leadership positions and lower.
What is the percentage of Egyptian employees in the company?
We have very few expats compared to the total headcount in Egypt. Maybe 1% to 99%.
What is the size of funds allocated for employees’ capacity building annually?
It is approximately 15% of the total annual cost including investment in technology and training internally and externally.
How many Egyptian youths are being trained by the company?
In terms of Energy University, Egyptian students completed 25,000 courses in 2017, making them the first contributor worldwide to our online education platform.
The latest data show that Egypt ranks third in terms of enrolled students, after the US & China with 3,711 students. This represents 8% of the total number of applications submitted to the university until July 2017.
The number of training programmes taken by Egyptian students reached 25,174, representing 32% of the total number of training held worldwide. This ranks Schneider Egypt first worldwide.
In 2018, Schneider Electric celebrated the graduation of its 10th class of the occupational training initiative ‘University to Work.’ 590 engineering students from various state-run and privately owned universities graduated from the programme that was organised in cooperation with the Engineering Consultants Group (ECG).
Schneider also established an engineering lab in Cairo’s Engineers’ Syndicate and is planning to set up another two in Assiut and Alexandria. 1,500 engineers have already been trained in the Cairo branch.
During the lockdown, did you face any challenges to use technology in following up on business?
I do not think so, because Schneider is an international company, and before COVID-19, we used to hold virtual meetings and used the internet to follow up. We were lucky because when the pandemic started, we managed to move forward quickly to work virtually from anywhere.
Tell us about your efforts in terms of including people with disabilities within the company’s business.
Diversity is an integral part of our history, culture, and identity. Inclusion is the way we treat and perceive all differences. We want to create an inclusive culture where all forms of diversity are seen as a real value for the company.
There are five kinds of diversity, first is gender — which we talked about earlier — the second is generations, and we have focused on including all age groups, as we have five generations in the company already.
Third and fourth are nationality and ethnicity — which includes the LGBT community.
Then the final one is disabilities, who we have a strategy for to adequately place people and address their needs.
What are the advantages of hiring Egyptians within the company?
We totally believe that Egyptians are very talented in terms of education, language capacities, and resilience because the company has faced a lot of challenges and they proved their capabilities.
We also have a regional hub, engineering centre, and execution centres here in Egypt. We are keen on qualifying and exporting Egyptian employees outside the region and beyond. For example, last year, around 76 Egyptians moved to work in other countries.