At a Glance
In France, CGI’s goal is to reach 40% women at all levels of the organization, by 2030. Find out how The A Effect has been helping the organisation to accelerate the rise of female talent within the company since 2017.
“What We’re Doing is No Longer Enough”
In 2019, CGI France identified many gender parity issues. These remain common in the technology sector: lack of women in decision-making roles, few female role models to inspire early career talent, talent retention difficulties, etc.
“There is a lack of female representation, what we’re doing is no longer working”, observed Benoit Froment, Vice-President of Human Resources for Western and Southern Europe. In his view, at that time, the action taken by CGI in France in terms of parity was no longer sufficient. Decision-making positions are nearly all filled by men and, despite the hiring of female talent, the higher up the ladder you go, the fewer women there are.
“The turnover for women is a little higher than [that of men], especially five years into a career”, specifies Caroline de Grandmaison, CGI President for France, Luxembourg, and Switzerland and leader at The A Effect. She explains that at CGI, retention is “a major focus” of the human resources strategies in place.
In 2019, still a long way from the target of 40% women at every level, the French division decided to follow in the footsteps of CGI in Canada, a partner of The A Effect since 2017.
Concrete Results for the Organization, Thanks to Committed Leaders
Today, CGI France has more women vice-presidents and executives than ever. Such change has come about through bold decision-making, senior leadership saying yes to challenges, and leaders like Caroline de Grandmaison and her colleague Benoit Froment being actively committed to accelerating change.
Starting in France with ten participants in 2019, then more and more each year, CGI has now sent over 200 professionals to take part in the Ambition ChallengeDéfi 100 jours.
18% of CGI France’s graduates of The A Effect’s Ambition Challenge have become vice-presidents*
44% of CGI France’s graduates of The A Effect’s Ambition Challenge have moved up the company ladder*
The A Effect’s approach to gender parity continues to prove itself today. By inspiring CGI France’s leaders of tomorrow to take calculated risks and communicate their ambition with confidence, the Ambition Challenge is an integral part of the company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) approach.
One thing is certain, the program’s outcomes have more good things in store for CGI!
* For the 2019, 202, and 2021 cohorts (2022 is not yet counted in these figures).
Female Talent That is More Visible When it Comes to Promotions
According to Caroline de Grandmaison, one of the Ambition Challenge’s major advantages is greater awareness of ambition. Year after year, she notices that more women colleagues, many of whom have participated in the Ambition Challenge, are speaking up about their career goals. She’s emphatic: when women are supported by their organizations and encouraged to express their ambition, gender parity can only get better.
“As a manager, when it comes time to appoint someone, you think about the person who came to see you. It’s only human”, says Caroline de Grandmaison. Thus, at CGI, empowering women to put themselves forward has tended to increase their presence at every level.
“The Ambition Challenge gave me the tools to position myself effectively. Being supported by my organization and being surrounded by ambitious women made me realize that wanting a promotion was entirely legitimate!”
– Isabel Magalhaes, Vice-President at CGI in France and graduate of the Ambition Challenge
The A Effect measures the impact of the Ambition Challenge over time
The Ambition Challenge is The A Effect program that aims to equip women to embrace and better communicate their ambition. This training program is based on a methodology designed with experts in behavioural transformation, to ensure lasting change in mindset.
During this program, participants are asked to reflect on the three main pillars of ambition: confidence, risk-taking, and influence. They are asked to assess 25 key behaviours on these topics, at the beginning and end of their journey.b
Analysis of the responses of 3000 graduates about their assessment of these 25 behaviours reveals that after 100 days, they feel more ambitious, confident, and comfortable with taking risks and using influence. A recent similar analysis, 12 to 24 months after their program, has confirmed that graduates maintain these traits long after their Ambition Challenge.
Confidence, Anchored in the Everyday
For most graduates, The A Effect program was a lightbulb moment in terms of their self-confidence. Doubting their skills and refusing to recognize their successes is “a typical behaviour for women that is addressed in the Ambition Challenge,” mentions Caroline de Grandmaison. “[The program] helps people to realize their value [and] express it”, she adds.
Pascale Guyon, HR and Training Development Manager for CGI in France, agrees: “We’re on a journey that works on building confidence, over a period of time where we can [anchor] women’s confidence building in their daily activities”, she explains, highlighting the difference between a one-day workshop in other programs and the methodology behind the 100 days of the Ambition Challenge. She considers this 3-month journey, this “back and forth” between theory and practice, to have a consolidating effect on learning that allows participants to experience real individual transformation.
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A Springboard for CGI’s Intrapraneurial Culture
At CGI, one of the company’s key values is intrapreneurship. Collaborators develop in a culture of innovation and autonomy, which means trusting yourself and daring to take risks to grow in the organization. In fact, at CGI, instead of talking about risk, it’s all about moving forward. “The right to make mistakes is part of CGI’s DNA”, says Benoit Froment.
Being in early career and rising through the company ranks are both challenges that carry an element of risk. “Taking on a senior position is a risk. I think that Ambition Challenge graduates go for it more naturally. Many executives who have been through The A Effect have boldly gone on to apply”, shares Caroline de Grandmaison.
By participating in the Ambition Challenge in France, CGI’s female talent is mastering risk-taking. They’re becoming more comfortable navigating uncertainty and more confident taking on challenges they wouldn’t have previously considered.
Every Woman Promoted Inspires Others
When employers support women and encourage them to let all their potential and ambition shine, it is a decisive step towards reaching gender parity in organizations.
The Ambition Challenge acts as an important catalyst for change and contributes to launching a fundamental shift toward gender parity. “Having this continuity, these cohorts, these experiences, and this format in common [leads us to] build something even more powerful [in the company],” Pascale Guyon says.
Every woman promoted inspires others and each female talent in a decision-making role draws others in. This is what CGI France is betting on by renewing its confidence in The A Effect year after year, and the results are convincing. Where will the organization be in 100, 200… 500 days? Each Ambition Challenge cohort has more professionals than the one before. And these graduates are just getting started bringing their ambition and talent to the forefront.