This month’s Member Spotlight

Catherine Francois

January 2017

Global Director, Strategic Accounts, Diversey Consulting

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your role?
I have been working in the food safety world for nearly 20 years, primarily working to set up a non-profit association to focus on driving harmonization in food safety for the food industry worldwide. This meant bringing together and building a network of stakeholders, ranging from governments to food safety service providers and retail and manufacturing food safety experts. For the last five years I have been working as a food safety consultant, first leading a dedicated food safety consulting business unit within Sealed Air Group and for the last couple of years focusing more on business development and sales for global accounts.

Why is diversity important for you?
During my career, I have seen firsthand the impact of having a diverse team and the superior results, creativity and innovation that this can deliver. I believe diversity is a critical requirement for both professional and personal success. I am keen to drive the diversity agenda to communicate and promote the benefits of diversity as I believe we all have a personal responsibility to leave the right legacy for future generations.

What is your history at LEAD? Your perspective on LEAD and what advice would you have for us?
I have been involved with LEAD from an early stage, working on the membership committee, given my prior experience working in non-profit associations. LEAD is a unique organization and fills a huge gap in the industry, but with very challenging ambitions. I believe the power of networking is invaluable to the future success of LEAD, which when combined with knowledge sharing, it can make the organization very powerful indeed. By sharing stories and experiences, we can all learn and benefit and this will continue to drive the value of LEAD.
Tell us about something innovative you’ve done recently related to diversity?
Last year I lead a team that set up a mentoring programme for my colleagues in France, for both men and women. This initiative was warmly welcomed and feedback so far is very positive. My learning was that in order to drive the diversity agenda, it has to be all inclusive for both men and women.

How important is diversity within your organization?
Diversity is very important in my organization – we have our internal WIN group – Women’s Initiative Network – whose goals are very similar to LEAD. I have had the privilege to sit on the Global Steering Committee for the last two years which has helped to shape the agenda for women within our business. This included setting a clear strategy, metrics to measure progress, increased communication through many different channels, including an ‘Adopt a Leader Programme’. We opened 9 new local WIN groups in 2016, bringing the total of active local groups to 23 worldwide, with plans for another 6 openings in 2017. We also launched MARC (Men advocating for Real Change) in order to driven common goals around diversity in our organization and to be as inclusive as possible. I truly hope these efforts will be appreciated by future generations, who I hope will no longer see diversity as something which needs to be driven but which is a given in our society.

As an industry, there is still a long way to go and LEAD has a critical role to play in order to lead and guide our business leaders and peers in the area of diversity.