Mentoring builds gender diversity, says Spanish business leader Jose Luis Conde

Operations Aviation & Network Lead, Exolum

One of a series of profiles on business executives leading gender equality efforts in the workplace

Why gender diversity? Jose Luis Conde will tell you that a mix of men and women helps him to do his job well and helps his company, Madrid-based Exolum, succeed.

Diversity at Exolum, a logistics company that handles the transportation and storage of bulk liquids like refined products, chemicals and biofuels, means team members have different points of view and different experiences that improve discussions, decision-making and problem-solving, Conde told the United Nation Global Compact in an interview.

“Diversity is one of the best tools that we have to achieve our goals as an organization,” said Conde, who is operations aviation and network lead at Exolum. “We have learned that diversity is the best option to success.”

Exolum is a signatory company of the UN Global Compact, focused most significantly on the Sustainable Development Goals for promoting good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, industry, innovation and infrastructure and climate action.

Happy working with people, Conde said he embarked on mentoring and coaching colleagues, particularly women. He’s worked at Exolum since 1997, moving to operations six years ago from the company’s global human resources team.

In 2014 he began participating in cross mentoring, which involves leaders and executives mentoring workers at other companies. More than 30 companies are involved in a cross-mentoring program sponsored by a local university.

Women, said Conde, benefit from the mentoring particularly when they have children and are seeking a balance of their professional and personal lives. Diversity is not just a good mix of genders but also of ages, he added.

“My effort has always been as a mentor to focus on helping them to find solutions,” he said, adding that he can share examples and understands the value of simply listening.

Women on the job benefit also from increased visibility to help smash the glass ceiling, especially in a company like Exolum that employs a lot of engineers, a very male-dominated profession, he said. The company has about 2,200 employees, and it is about 30% female, he said.

“We need to give more visibility to the less represented groups. In our case, we are more men than women,” he said. “They will be less visible, and then they will have less opportunity.

“Having visibility is like networking,” he added. “You will have more contact, more opportunities.”

Conde noted that he takes the same approach to supporting and encouraging women on the job as he does at home - where he and his wife are raising two daughters, ages 18 and 16.

He said he’s pleased to see progress from his efforts at Exolum championing its female employees.

“I find now they have less doubt about taking more responsibility, about trying to find the best balance between their professional life and their personal life without having an impact on their professional life.”

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