Eduard Drăghici, Carrefour Romania: A diverse working environment exposes us to various situations, takes us out of the comfort zone and helps us grow

We are pleased to announce a new diversity column on the Diversity Charter’s website that will explore how the concept of diversity management is practiced and embraced by Romanian companies and organizations. We’ve talked today with Eduard Drăghici, employer branding coordinator at Carrefour Romania, about the role of diversity within the French retailer with operations in more than 30 countries.

Why and since when does your company believe and invest in diversity management?

We believe in diversity management due to the innumerable benefits it brings to our organization, but especially to the community we are part of. Diversity means ideas, and progress cannot take place in an environment where diversity is absent.

As early as 2001, when the Carrefour Group opened the first hypermarket in Romania, we tried to form teams which were as mixed as possible. Moreover, our future managers at that time were recruited from the faculty and went through a training program, and all that mattered was their potential and wish to grow together with the organization. Nothing else.

Furthermore, we never had a Board at country level without at least one woman on it, and also without at least 2 nationalities. Right now, our Board has 3 women and 4 men, 4 Romanians and 3 French people and almost 60% of management positions at the national level are held by women.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

In each country where the Carrefour Group is present, the prioritization is based on the diversity and inclusion issues faced by the community concerned. In Carrefour Romania, the most promoted aspects of diversity include: gender, age, (dis)abilities, ethnicity and level of education. Of course, diversity means much more than that and we cannot summarize everything in a list.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

As a responsible company, we promote social dialogue with our employee representatives and our institutional partners, at a global, national and local level, in order to ensure good working conditions, combat all forms of discrimination and promote diversity and inclusiveness.

Every year we celebrate Diversity Day. It is a good time for every member of our team to become aware of and celebrate individual differences. To that end, we organize, in all Carrefour locations in the country, dedicated events, role-playing awareness workshops, fun contests, etc.

In order to support the development of women in the organization and in the Romanian community, we are constantly launching, under the umbrella of a program called “Women Leaders”, new initiatives, projects and external partnerships. We carry out actions to attract talented women by focusing on diversity and working on stereotypes: systematic wording of job openings to include women, promotion of women in many Carrefour businesses, and so on. As a confirmation of our efforts, Carrefour Romania was recertified as GEE&IS (Gender Equality European & International Standard) in 2017.

Moreover, in all our HR processes, from recruitment to talent management, we are respecting people, valuing skills, guiding and training according to needs, promoting work-life balance and good working conditions. Everything is transparent and we ensure equal opportunity and inclusiveness.

Even more, we have developed educational partnerships and programs dedicated to youngsters (apprenticeship, internship and traineeship, university workshops, a mentoring program for high school girls, student dedicated careers fairs, open days, etc.), management trainee programs for our colleagues wishing to take a management position, as well as personal and professional development programs for all Carrefour colleagues around the country.

At the same time, we devise projects dedicated to the recruitment and inclusion of people with disabilities and invest in internal and external disability awareness campaigns (raising employee and customer awareness to give them a chance to change their view on disability). Carrefour Group is the first company to enter into a partnership with the Business and Disability network of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2011.

Our commitment is to recognize, consider, guide and value individuality both in applicants and employees, in all their diversity, whatever the differences.

Many companies aren't prioritizing inclusion and diversity initiatives right now. Why should they reconsider?

First of all, I believe that the prioritization of diversity and inclusion should come naturally, and this can only be achieved when you understand the benefits and the positive impact that any action promoting D&I brings to business and in the community. In short, D&I is the key to long-lasting success!

In your opinion, what tangible benefits does diversity bring to your company?

At Carrefour, we believe that diversity comes with a multitude of perspectives and is the best resource of ideas for the whole organization. Certainly, solutions appear more quickly in a diverse, open environment that promotes collaboration. And when solutions come quickly, we can say that we save energy, time and even financial resources. Moreover, the agility and flexibility of such a work environment supports the accelerated development and competitiveness of our business.

Other benefits we can see are the growth, the motivation and the retention of employees in the company. A diverse working environment exposes us to various situations, takes us out of the comfort zone and helps us grow. And that motivates us and makes us stay with the organization.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

Perhaps the most important challenges include: helping people to overcome stereotypes, assumptions and judgments and get to know others on a real level, raise awareness on specific issues and even helping teams to adapt their work environment and work style in order to encourage every member of the team to be himself or herself.

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

When we build projects, we form teams that are as diverse as possible: colleagues with different backgrounds, perspectives and skills. It is enough for them to see and experience the benefits that a mixed team can bring in any organizational context. Projects take shape more quickly, and solutions are easy to find – therefore, productivity is higher.

Diversity is all of us, and when we are given confidence, autonomy and freedom of expression, we are motivated to build beautiful things with the people around us. We strongly believe this and act accordingly. Our approach is simple: The Carrefour world is about people!

Eduard Drăghici is the employer branding coordinator of Carrefour Romania, a French multinational retailer that operates in more than 30 countries. Motivated to stay with the organization since 2010, he previously worked as an internal communication coordinator, performance management specialist and as a supermarket deputy manager. Passionate about HR and Communication, he likes to call himself a storyteller and a story-doer. Eduard studied both Romanian Language & Literature and English Language & Literature at the "Dimitrie Cantemir" Christian University, Bucharest. He also holds a master degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Bucharest.

Interview by Dana Oancea