Achieving equality by being critical and realising the benefit of differences
Chanelva Kartopawiro plays an active part within the community that works around gender equality. Along with the other members of the community, she is committed to accomplishing this equality and to creating equal opportunities for all. Read her story and find out more about this wonderful scheme!
Was this the reason that you went on to assume an active role within Capgemini's ‘Gender community'?
When I was first approached by Linda Naber and Joost Linssen to get involved with this community, I needed a little time to think. I soon decided that this is a topic I attach such importance to, that I am more than happy to do my bit. I believe it is important for people to be able to be who they are and for people to have equal opportunities. Different people come with different views. Which is not only fun, it is also very useful when you need to work together.
Is there a particular project that is your baby?
The truth of the matter is we are seeing few women make it to the top when it comes to senior consultant posts or above. Which makes you wonder how this is possible. As well as ask yourself what can be done to change this in the foreseeable future. So we took a close look at the grading handbook (originally written in 2013). The book literally kicks things off by stating that everything has been written in the male (he) form for ease of legibility. As a result, anyone reading the handbook constantly has a male protagonist in mind. We recently put forward a series of recommendations for a new version of the book, which includes changing the he form into the you form. Our aim is to ensure that this style of communication is made more gender-neutral and consequently more inclusive than is currently the case, so it is more appealing to everybody.
Do you find that Capgemini and your colleagues are open to this type of schemes?
Most certainly, I feel I am getting full backing in this respect, including from my colleagues. At Capgemini, I am given opportunities and I am involved in all manner of things. This is exactly where the big difference lies with other major players I previously worked for: at Capgemini, your profile does not matter. If you have got the skills to do the job, you get opportunities and you are allowed to show which further strings you have to your bow.
The gender community too is an excellent case in point of this approach. The zeitgeist is changing and the younger generation especially seems to be quite adept at moving with the times. I sometimes notice a little more reticence among the slightly older colleagues. Perhaps some of them think that women are now suddenly getting preferential treatment in filling certain posts, and it is not necessarily the best candidate that gets the job. Whenever I come across situations where these sentiments are aired, I bring the matter into the open and engage in dialogue. Usually I am quickly able to allay people’s misgivings.
Of course, staff are not hired because they are women. People get the job because they meet the profile requirements and they have the right skills and qualities. What matters to us is that everybody gets the same opportunities. Men and women alike.
How will your community be putting itself on the map within the company to achieve its goals?
First of all, we are continuing to scrutinise and adapt the grading handbook. Which is necessary as this is an important document within the organisation as a whole. In addition, we are continuing to organise events, alongside our other duties. At these events, people share their stories and experiences. One thing that proved to be a real eye opener to me for instance was the fact that age discrimination is very much an issue to a number of people. It was not something I had previously ever stopped to even consider. I have my own challenges, but age discrimination was not something I have ever personally had to face. Which is why listening to one another, being aware of how we come across and how we benefit from opening ourselves up to other people is a good thing. Everybody stands to gain.s.
What do you like about working at Capgemini?
No one pigeonholes you. There is truly a great deal of diversity of people and Capgemini is nothing if not inclusive. The company much sooner looks at ‘who is the person I have got in front of me’ in terms of the qualities people bring to the table. Obviously, we are and remain an IT club, so we need to be realistic about things and not get carried away in the belief that we will be able to change everything overnight. But when you look at the new batch of recruits, there is a vast difference. Capgemini is turning things around in this regard in a way that feels very natural. And the nice thing is that the more seasoned staff are moving along with the times. They are also open to change and this is where I genuinely sense the support that is so important to get the job done.
In addition, I think it is wonderful to see festive occasions such as Diwali (14 November 2020, the Festival of Lights) and Keti Koti (1 July, the abolishment of slavery) being celebrated and all colleagues being involved in these celebrations. Everybody is welcome. This is not something I put on the rails, but it just goes to show how important diversity really is to Capgemini and how the company is making genuine efforts to make it into a reality. It is not even anything ‘special’, it is very common. I like that.
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