In France, Twitter users may have seen a number of militant tweets with the hashtags #proEquality and #mustaches, sent from the @orangejobs_fr Twitter account. If so, you may have wondered what ‘Operation Mustache’ actually is. Eric Barilland, Director of Employer Image and Campus Management in Orange’s Human Resources Department, tells us all about it.
Hello Eric. We’ve seen a number of tweets from people taking photos of themselves wearing a fake mustache and using the hashtag #moustaches. So what’s it all about?
Eric Barilland: It’s a commitment drive we launched on Twitter alongside a campaign taking place from mid-February through mid-April on gender equality in the workplace, since we consider, with a degree of humility, that Orange is a very committed employer in this area on a day-to-day basis, via its many programs and initiatives. We wanted to highlight these to our external audiences, in order to explain what Orange is doing in this area and that, for us, women – and men for that matter – do not need to change the way they look to obtain responsibility within our group.
You can find the campaign in the press. It uses a visual of a young woman and her daughter playing in front of the bathroom mirror, making a pretend mustache with their hair, and featuring the slogan “fortunately, I don’t need a disguise to get responsibility.” We wanted to echo this campaign on Twitter by asking our followers and anyone else who wants to, to share their ‘fake mustache’ photos in support of this message, and say that they do not need a disguise either if they want responsibility in the professional world.
Was the idea of having to wear a disguise in order to be in with a chance of getting a job with responsibility inspired by something that actually happened?
Eric Barilland: It’s a topic that the Diversity Division, reporting to the group’s HRD, works on a lot and is that of stereotypes. Everyone assigns potential qualities, or even potential professions, to a gender, with a greater or lesser degree of consciousness. Males are thought to possess leadership and authority, while females are seen as more intuitive, more relationship-based and so on. These ways of thinking can be observed daily in our jobs, in the way we may recruit someone for a position internally or externally, or in the way we offer someone career development or a change in their role.
Orange’s idea is to work on these very stereotypes via managerial and corporate culture, and via the way the group communicates, taking care not to reproduce these stereotypes in its communications. We may not be perfect, but we do our best. So that’s where the idea for this campaign comes from.
Why did you choose Twitter?
Eric Barilland: It’s an instant, real-time platform, and we needed a very active way to disseminate and share this initiative with our student communities.
The initiative is due to conclude on March 8. Why choose this date?
Eric Barilland: March 8 is International Women’s Day, so there will be a national link with many other women’s rights events unfolding across France, specifically in the professional world, all with this very offbeat mustache visual that seems to be popping up everywhere as the focal point.
Will the initiative be rolled out to other countries?
Eric Barilland: Yes, we would like to expand the operation, initially with an English version. We may also roll it out in Africa and the Middle East.
Why is it important for Orange, as a telecoms operator, to work on gender equality?
Eric Barilland: In a high-tech company like Orange, it’s important for women and men alike to be able to access positions of responsibility. It also ensures that we are in synch with our customers, that we are more creative, and quite simply, that we can make the most of everyone’s talents, regardless of gender. It’s going to be one of our key challenges in terms of business and corporate transformation over the coming years. It’s also an integral part of our corporate strategy.
Is the aim to achieve parity?
Eric Barilland: In an ideal world, 50/50 parity is the goal! We live in a high-tech world where the group’s female employment rate is 36% worldwide. Our aim is to achieve this level of female representation in managing bodies and management networks by 2015. Stéphane Richard has made a very strong commitment to this end, and it falls under our corporate plan, Conquests 2015.
You can become part of the movement too, helping to debunk stereotypes and change mindsets: Take a photo of yourself wearing a fake mustache and tweet it with the hashtag #moustaches, and copy in the @orangejobs_fr account. You can also visit the Orange jobs website for more information about gender equality at Orange, and specifically Stéphane Richard’s vision, which he expressed in an interview recorded at the most recent Women’s Forum.