Diversity, disability and inclusion: My experience, by Gaëtan Marescaux

To mark International Day of People with Disabilities, our Head of Diversity and Inclusion in France, Gaëtan Marescaux, writes about his own experience of disability, why diverse companies are more successful, and how and why we’re fostering an inclusive culture at Akkodis.

| Dec. 02, 2022

We’ve already achieved a lot when it comes to diversity and inclusion at Akkodis – but we know there is still more to be done.

My objective for Akkodis is to build a diversity and inclusion community that creates meaning and pride. As a LGBT+ senior who has disabilities, I know from personal experience how important that is, and that’s why I am so passionate about my job.

I’m often asked by new employees about our diversity and inclusion policy, so I’ve put together answers to the questions that come up most…

What do diversity and inclusion mean to you, Gaëtan? Why are they important?

From a personal perspective, as someone who lives with both a chronic illness and a disabling illness, I know what it’s like to balance disabilities with working life. My background is proof that disabilities are no obstacle to successfully working as part of a team or to professional development. I’ve benefited from working remotely for many years, which allows me to carry out my professional tasks with more comfort and adapt my days to certain aspects of my disabilities.

In the world of work, diversity and inclusion are sources of both economic and social performance. So that’s why we’re committed to promoting a culture of diversity to contribute to our employees’ professional fulfillment and development.

What are the challenges of fostering an inclusive environment and how does Akkodis accommodate people with different backgrounds?

Disabilities can be overlooked. People often think of the stereotypical pictogram of the wheelchair, but 80 percent of disabilities are invisible. At Akkodis, I know that raising awareness among employees and managers contributes to a caring and inclusive work environment.

Personally, I feel free to talk about my situation and any difficulties I encounter daily. I am judged on my skills, and that is one of the reasons Akkodis is a good place to work if you are a person with disabilities.

Many different types of disability are represented on our teams. For example, employees diagnosed with Asperger’s are supported by a certified coach, and Akkodis adapts workstations for employees with disabilities in coordination with occupational health and our disability mission.

One of the Akkodis digital accessibility advisers is blind and carries out his user experience job very effectively without a screen and mouse thanks to adapted equipment. At Akkodis in France, the disability mission supports employees, so their uniqueness is recognized by an RQTH (recognition as a worker with disabilities) while our agreement about disability is also approved by the French Ministry of Labor and signed by staff representative bodies.

That agreement includes a support system, adaptation of workstations and training of all managers and teams in non-discrimination.

How can we improve when it comes to supporting diversity and inclusion

Because of the richness of diversity, and its ability to boost performance, interest has soared in inclusion in recent years. I created the first mission at Akkodis forerunner Modis back in 2012 and we’ve come a long way since then. We’ve already achieved a lot when it comes to our four diversity and inclusion themes of gender equality, disability, Akkodis Pride, and our social mix.

But the work is never finished. Our diversity policy aims to continue to ensure that the populations present in civil society are represented in a balanced way at Akkodis. Employees can help by joining a diversity network as an ally.

Everyone should be contributing, regardless of their disability, age, background, sexuality, or gender identity.

Diversity and inclusion are everyone’s business.

What advice would you give to our new colleagues?

It’s important to have fun and share the fun!

Also, remember to be yourself, do not hesitate to step out of your comfort zone – and believe in your dreams.

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