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In the field, ADEO companies did not wait for the overall Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy to be defined, 2 years ago, to lead initiatives on these topics. The issue of professional parity between women and men, which is one of two D&I priorities at ADEO, is already largely rooted in the culture of our retail brands. The career and practice of Clémence Charlet, Director of the Leroy Merlin store in Orléans, bear witness to this...

Between a career and maternity, why choose?

When we ask whether being a woman was a drawback in her career at Leroy Merlin, Clémence Charlet is very clear: no, she never felt curbed. On the contrary, she has always been confident, particularly with her hierarchy, especially on the issue of reconciling her professional and family life.


“In 2010, I was working at head office in the Financial Division. I had to announce to my manager that I was pregnant, and I admit, I was anxious. All the more so because I had only been at Leroy Merlin for a year… yet, there was no problem, right from the start he welcomed it as great news! And it was the same going forward with my career, because today I have 3 children. Every time, I had male managers who always reacted really well”, she explains.


As a director she asserts that she never had to choose between her career and her life as a woman. In fact, there was never an issue: when she was offered the position of leading the store in Orléans last year, she was living in Reims with her family and first wanted to discuss it with her husband. “I felt assured that I could refuse the position, given the change that it would impose on our lives, and that it would not be detrimental to me in any way going forward” says Clémence Charlet.


The only pressure that she felt was, on the contrary, positive, a sort of encouragement, a realisation that she could dare to launch into a new job and take on new challenges. So after several years at head office, it was suggested that she discover the store network. She explains: “In 2016, I was offered the position of Head of the Logistics Department… I didn’t know how to back into a parking space and I couldn’t see myself in this often quite masculine environment. I was reassured and supported and everything went really well!”


Support & corporate culture programmes

This support of leaders, and in particular of women, is very practically embodied at Leroy Merlin France via a certain number of programmes. Clémence, for instance, refers to the “Jump” scheme, aimed at future male and female store directors for the brand, which she was able to follow after her last pregnancy in 2019, without this being an issue.


Intended more specifically for female leaders, the « Chance », programme, offered by ADEO, enables these women to discover their potential through coaching and professional follow-up. “I also had the ‘chance’ to follow this appropriately named programme, and as such, to benefit from a period of self-reflection to identify my development levers and motivation, and to determine where I wanted to go in professional terms” explains Clémence Charlet.


She continues: “We know that, all too often, women have a tendency towards self-censorship in their careers, and that unlike men, they don’t allow themselves to apply for a job unless they already possess at least 80% of the required skills… I have felt this myself, I often asked myself if I was truly capable… and I’m so glad that I was encouraged and that the company actively tackles this issue by creating conditions to change the situation”.


Equality between women and men is thus a topic that has long existed in ADEO companies, and Leroy Merlin France in particular. The Store Director cites a classic example of the life of a mum: a constraint related to a sick child, to nursery or school times.
“No one will ever judge you or make you feel as though it’s a problem. In fact, it’s something that new recruits remark upon and perceive very positively. And it’s not just aimed at women, it’s also the case for dads”
clarifies the Director, who insists upon the non-discrimination of gender as far as parental responsibility is concerned.


Setting an example on a daily basis to encourage vocations

In her daily routine as store leader, Clémence Charlet also pays particular attention to these questions and doesn’t hesitate to encourage her employees to take time for their family and their personal life.
“I believe that we need to support each individual, woman or man, according to these moments in life: whether it involves a young infant, an elder member of the family, or other personal constraints, it’s normal that work life be adjusted. It’s important to me to discuss these things, that issues be laid out so that everyone can find a balance” she affirms.


Actually, the stores in the network are open from Monday through to Sunday, with leaders on the bridge from 6 am to 8 pm. “It’s all too easy to get caught up in things and never ease up, especially in positions of responsibility. So I’m careful to set an example, to allow myself time to disconnect too, and to trust my colleagues to manage things” explains Clémence Charlet.


The leader adds that it is important to her, since her previous position as store director in Reims, to integrate more women in the Executive Committees. She is indeed delighted that her last hire there was a mother of 4 children. “My colleagues often tell me that they are glad to have a woman, a mother of 3 children, in my position. It proves to them that it’s possible, that we can progress without making sacrifices, and it gives them more confidence in their own career development” she says.


Clémence is therefore convinced that she belongs to an open-minded company, where the question of professional parity is now essentially a matter of support and of reassuring women, particularly through dedicated programmes, in order for them to dare and to allow themselves to take on greater responsibilities. “Today, women are still under-represented in managerial functions… but, when I see all that is happening around me, I am confident of the fact that it’s changing” ays the Director enthusiastically.


Clémence Charlet’s career in 5 dates

  • September 2010 : Clémence Charlet joins the Financial Division of Leroy Merlin France
  • September 2013 : She moves from head office to the network, as Head of the Retail Sector
  • December 2016 : She continues to develop and becomes Head of the Logistics Department
  • March 2020 : She is appointed Store Director in Reims
  • September 2022 : She moves to another region and takes on the same position in Orléans