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The partnership agreement was signed, at the Bouygues group’s head office on Avenue Hoche by Jean-Manuel Soussan, Bouygues Construction’s Executive Vice-President for human resources and corporate and social responsibility, Catherine Gutknecht, President of WeLink, the Group’s network for women, and Marie-Sophie Pawlak, president and founder of Elles bougent (‘Women on the Move’). Some thirty guests attended, including representatives of other Elles bougent partner companies and higher-education institutions. In his speech, Mr. Soussan encouraged women to demonstrate their ambition and emphasized the importance of commitment from both women and men to professional diversity and equal opportunity. 


Interview with Catherine Gutknecht
How did the partnership with "Elles bougent" begin? 
CG : This cooperation effort has been close to my heart since December 2015, when we first met Marie-Sophie Pawlak, president and founder of Elles bougent, at the 90th anniversary celebration of the EPF (formerly, the École Polytechnique Féminine).  Their work to create awareness of ‘male’ professions spoke to me immediately because we have the same goal: to promote gender diversity in technical and engineering fields. Our approaches are complementary and we are involved at different stages of women’s career paths. Elles bougent works with young women in secondary schools and higher education, while the WeLink network supports women when they join the company to ensure that they flourish there. Our common objective is to increase the number of women in the workplace because we are convinced that gender diversity – and, more generally, diverse backgrounds – is key to our companies’ and sector’s performance.
What activities did you carry out together in 2016? 
CG : Since the start of the year, we have partnered with Elles bougent on awareness-raising activities where our employee mentors – engineers and technicians – describe their career path and the company’s business lines. They shared their experiences during the national day dedicated to women in the engineering sciences, Les Sciences de l’Ingénieur au Féminin, and more recently, on 13 December at the Bouygues Construction stand during the forum held by French engineering school ESTP. Thanks to these events, our mentors – who now total more than 30 – are helping open up new possibilities. I hope they will inspire young women who, for the wrong reasons, might not have considered careers as engineers and technicians.
Why did you want to formalize this partnership?
CG : Our collaboration has proven to be very productive, so we wanted to expand the partnership company-wide. As a major player in the building and civil works sector, our Group must set an example so that we can bring change to a male-dominated sector, where women are still in the minority, particularly in positions of responsibility. This partnership supports the Group’s gender diversity policy and creates awareness of this issue among our employees. It also helps advance our mentors’ careers and introduce more people to our company and our business lines so that we can attract potential future hires.
What are your upcoming activities?
CG : Several of our mentors will participate in the event on 24 January, Elles innovent pour le numérique, dedicated to introducing young women to the digital-technology sector. Other awareness-raising initiatives will be held on 8 March, in conjunction with International Women’s Day, in countries where Bouygues Construction operates. We are also planning a major event dedicated to the construction sector for the 2017-2018 academic year.
About WeLink
 WeLink, the Bouygues Construction women’s network, was created in 2012 to develop gender diversity within the company and promote women’s access to positions of responsibility. Operating independently, WeLink provides personal-development programmes, mentoring, and networking that help women employees rise to the top of their professions in the construction industry. More than 570 women managers at Bouygues Construction in Europe, Asia, and North America belong to the network. For more information about WeLink, join the group on the in-house social network.
About Elles bougent
Over the past 10 years, the Elles bougent association has introduced schoolgirls to exciting careers as engineers and technicians in all industrial and technological sectors where women are under-represented, including the automobile, aerospace, energy, rail, maritime, digital, and building sectors. For more information: bougent is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Catherine Gutknecht, president of WeLink, Marie-Sophie Pawlak, president and founder of Elles bougent, and Jean-Manuel Soussan, Executive Vice-President of Bouygues Construction for human resources.
L to R: Aline Bourdin, Sabine Lunel-Suzanne (Head of Social Development and Training at Engie and member of Elles bougent), and Anne Debois (VP, Talent Management at Alstom and member of Elles bougent).
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