“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open” – Stephen King
Accor is a French hotel group which has been in the spotlight of French management press lately due to a very original initiative they just launched: a shadow Executive Committee, or “Comex” in French. This new committee is a sort of “Board of Millennials” in charge of challenging the company’s key decisions and helping Accor deeply revisit its digital strategy.
This “shadow Excom” is composed by 12 people between 25 and 35 years old, not only because this is the age of the founders of the new players reshaping the industry, such as Airbnb, but also because Accor declares that as of today, 90% of their decisions are made by executives who are older than 50. As well as a young commitee, this is also a very diversified one: 6 men and 6 women, 7 different nationalities, 5 to 12 years of experience in the company and very diverse backgrounds and profiles.
The objective of this “shadow Excom” is to challenge company’s key discussions and decisions by bringing fresh new ideas and points of view. More concretely, the mission of these Gen Y profiles is to propose specific recommendations to the actual Excom of the company on how they would approach some of Accor’s most pressing challenges and digital business stakes. To do so, these 12 young talents are given the same level of information than the actual Excom members, and they are also given the support of a coach to help them formalize their proposals prior to each Excom meeting.
According to Sébastien Bazin – Accor’s CEO, from now on, no important decision for the company will be taken without having listened and taken into consideration the ideas and proposals coming from these smart Millennials. In order to ensure as much fresh input and inspiration as possible, the members of this young committee have a one-year mandate after which they will be replaced by new Gen Y colleagues proposed by themselves.
Of course this initiative is strongly inspired on the more famous reverse mentoring, in which young generations challenge older colleagues on their digital practices or business ideas, but it is the first time I hear this takes place on a regular basis at the very top of a company. Only the time will tell if this is only a nice HR marketing initiative or a radical cultural change in this company, but I have to recognize I found the idea (and the courage to implement it) very inspiring…