In the world of engineering and fastener design, it’s important and noteworthy to find businesses that acknowledge and celebrate female talent and accomplishments. ARaymond is one such business.
A global firm specializing in assembly challenges, ARaymond actively recruits female team members and recognizes the value of listening to women’s voices at the highest levels of business development. The company is based in France but has a U.S. headquarters in Michigan and a presence in more than two dozen countries.
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Laurence Fayand — who serves as president and managing director of ARaymond’s Business Incubator and Accelerator — shares insight about her role and her thoughts on the significance of promoting female leadership. She also explains why it’s necessary to grow the number of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) roles and leadership positions.
Currently, Fayand leads a team that’s responsible for developing “technologies of the future” at ARaymond, including the latest advances in fastening, fluid-handling portfolios, and data and digital service. Before joining ARaymond, she served as CFO at several technology companies, including Kayentis and Tronics Microsystems, and worked in key management roles at HP.
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries, aimed at recognizing female achievements and creating a society and workplace free of gender bias.
This year, the United Nations is celebrating under the theme, DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.
According to the UN: “Today, a persistent gender gap in digital access keeps women from unlocking technology’s full potential. Their underrepresentation in STEM education and careers remains a major barrier to their participation in tech design and governance.”
Fayand is working to abolish the gender gap, inspiring females to consider STEM professions. She shares her thoughts below…
Why is a diverse team important for innovation and new ideas?
As a woman, I’ve been educated with stronger equality principles. Diversity is important to innovation, and at ARaymond we try to avoid hiring everyone from the same schools, same places, same genders.
In one of our projects, we count five different nationalities out of nine people working together in an agile mode with daily reviews.
Without a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, innovation is less likely to happen. Innovation and creativity are the drivers of our continued progress. New ideas from new people lead to new ways of doing things, new products, new services, and new technologies.
What advantages do females typically offer leadership teams?
Team leadership style depends more on personality than on gender. The difference might be in the average balance between soft and hard power.
Soft power is the ability to give energy, attract people, have a positive mindset, be persuasive…and the ability to advocate and stand up for people. Hard power is using the authority given by your position. Studies have shown that more diverse companies are more innovative, and hiring women is an important part of that.
In the project incubation and innovation skill set where I work, it’s very important for people to be trusted, but have the possibility of trying new things, even though they are challenged a lot.
For me, the impression I get is that when I, as a woman, challenge them, it’s typically received with openness. They don’t feel judged, just pushed toward innovation. Women often want to bring more clarity to the conversation.
Can you share more about your role and the incubator program at ARaymond?
The incubator is a business acceleration platform where we aim to identify and support new initiatives outside of ARaymond’s core competencies to bring new revenue streams for the future that are in line with our mission.
These activities work initially in a startup mode before being integrated into the company once the work is validated.
I make sure we have the right leadership to make these changes happen, and I support small teams of entrepreneurs who aim to build new streams of revenue. I empower and coach innovative project teams to create and deliver new sustainable propositions for our customers.
Are there any challenges you face being a female leader at ARaymond?
I believe that being a female leader in this field can actually be a competitive advantage. I was recruited by ARaymond because of the specific perspective I could bring to the company as they look to diversify their product offerings and designs. Even though engineering is still largely male, I’m seeing major strides in the number of women joining the field, and I’m looking forward to that trend continuing. Whether it’s product design or a business leadership role like mine, the future can be more female.
What are some of the unique ideas that have come out of the incubator program?
We have some exciting work that’s been developed by the incubator in the area of mechatronics, which involves a combined solution featuring temperature and pressure sensors that are embedded into our Quick Connectors and other fastening products.
This new line will prove important for thermal management in the growing field of electric vehicles. We’re also working on more exciting new projects related to assembly control solutions through software, as well as digital and machine learning developments and other topics.
What personal words of wisdom or inspiration can you offer to offer young females who might not consider roles in engineering, manufacturing — or even in the fastener industry?
I find in many young women around me, starting with my own daughter, a strong desire to move the lines. Understanding science and technology is an amazing way to concretely contribute and work on subjects that can have a strong impact on society.
Retaining talent is another issue that challenges employers. What does it take to ensure females in STEM fields remain?
The number one reason employees will leave your company is a lack of autonomy and trust. When I was hired at ARaymond to lead the incubator, I was given a large amount of autonomy and empowerment to lead my team without being micromanaged.
As a leader, I strive to do the same with my team so they can remain positive about their work and want to stay with ARaymond for the long term. Here, we make sure we listen to employees and care about what they need to do their job properly. We’re also flexible with work schedules, so if they want to work at home or on a different schedule, they are free to do so.
What are some efforts ARaymond is working to inspire females to consider STEM professions?
Keeping with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of using innovation and technology to support gender equality, ARaymond’s global CSR model believes in human rights and diversity and inclusivity, and strongly advocates and implements this in all its entities.
For example, our ARaymond India operation is providing digital literacy lessons to girls from the rural Pune district. ARaymond India is also providing scholarships to 100 girls from rural areas and lower socio-economic backgrounds, providing these girls with skills training and computer courses. Improving digital literacy by providing technology and training to those most in need is just one way to develop the talent of the future and create a positive impact in these girls’ lives.
Digital literacy will give these girls a chance at a better future, and we’re glad ARaymond can contribute our small part in this important fight. It’s easy to take for granted that everyone has access to proper education and technology, but that’s not always the case in many countries, especially for girls and young women.
The ARaymond Network has more than 8,000 employees worldwide and is a global expert in fastening and assembly solutions for many market segments.