The 8th Women’s Forum closed its doors last Friday. It involved three days of fascinating conferences and extraordinary encounters, which we hope that we have brought to life via our articles. The four of us were representing the live Orange blog on site, with four different personalities and points of view. It is now time for us to give you our four assessments of this event.
Raphaëlle Laubie’s assessment
This was the first time that I attended, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the speeches, and by the fact that representatives of the academic world attended many of the conferences. Their presence added to the quality of the facts that were announced, which were often demonstrated scientifically. In this regard, I’m thinking about the gender differences underlined by Margaret A. Neale, Professor of Management at Stanford, as well as the studies performed on the brain, which were supported by Harvard researchers.
The conference that made the greatest impression on me was the opening conference, which was presented by Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi, among others. The speaker, her charisma, her actions and her frank views inspired respect, and encouraged us to move things forwards. In addition, her point was as follows: “an event like this one, as exceptional as it is, loses some of its usefulness if it doesn’t help move things forward through taking action!”
I learnt a lot about China, its expansion model, on the multicultural differences in play, the short-term prospects, the local labour market, and the difficulty of keeping human resources loyal, etc. These points are mentioned here. I also learned about the China’s internet, its specific social networks and the way that censorship, a fully transparent overview of which is provided here, operates. The “future largest world power” received wide coverage during the 2012 Women’s Forum event.
Jessica Gauzi’s assessment
What I remember about the Women’s Forum was the smiles, the elegant women, the wit (plenty of if), a good dose of caffeine, the opening, exceptional career paths, outstanding successes, discussions from right to left and from top to bottom (and vice versa), the innovation and the daring, passionate women, and men who believe in Women.
Which conference impressed me most? There can only be one… I’ll think about it and get back to you Actually, it was the one on the topic of “growth from the bottom up” with Cherie Blair and Sanjit Bunker Roy Because of their personalities, because of their personal struggle on behalf of the community, and because of the hope that they inspire for discussions between peoples, sexes, and generations too.
Aside from an undoubted introduction, the Women’s Forum also provided me with a view of the future that I did not have. It’s an optimistic view, but very realistic and harsh, namely that there is still a long way to go, even though we all have the best attributes to succeed. Furthermore, it is even more essential to continue to educate, educate, educate, and also to talk, communicate, boost our confidence, and to help one another! We are our only “agents” for change, and for our personal growth, as Véronique Morali would say. I think that this will be my final word, to ponder about and especially to act upon.
Alexandra Operto’s assessment
What is my take on the Women’s Forum? That there is still a long way to go! Thanks to the discussions that I was able to hold with some attendees, as well as with the organisers and the staff on site, I realised that, despite the efforts made to improve the way that women are perceived within companies, we aren’t there yet. Some clichés still linger, and I am part of the next generation, which is going to have to speak up even more to make itself heard.
Where the coaching sessions at the Orange corner were concerned, there were many registrations from people with very different backgrounds, just like last year. Some attendees wanted to know whether their Facebook account was really secure, while others wanted to understand all the functionalities offered by a social network like Linkedin. Others only came so that I could give them an overview of the different options for a personal and professional social media presence for a major or medium-sized company, etc. One frequently asked question was “how much time does it take?” and the answer is simple: “it depends on your goal”; indeed it’s good for both individuals and companies to have a social media presence, but it requires drive, updates and discussions behind the scenes. Meanwhile, the attendees often don’t have much or any time to devote to it, so I gave them a few tips for optimising their presence, and cutting to the chase, depending on their activity and their goal. What was also very interesting to me was to weigh up the progress made by social media in these attendees’ professional and personal lives.
This made me realise that time management is becoming a fundamental issue for people: there is plenty of information, and plenty of development opportunities, and tools. Everyone finds this fascinating! Nonetheless, we now have a time and resources problem…Maybe this will be the next subject of the Women’s Forum?
So what did I take away?
Since meeting Véronique Morali, in order to conduct the introductory interview for this 8th Women’s Forum, I was eager to attend this conference, as I was so fascinated by her personality. Her natural gentleness, which is in contrast to the strength of her convictions and of her ideas, gives her an uncommon charisma. My first impression was confirmed as soon as the Women’s Forum opened, and Véronique Morali’s speech thrilled me right from the start! I was then carried away by Shirin Ebadie’s speech, and didn’t come down from my cloud during the three days that the event lasted.
Nonetheless, the review was relatively alarming: the situation of women in the world, the economic crisis, poverty, inequality, censorship, and other injustices were roundly criticised. However, this only underlined the need to change mentalities, and to highlight the desire to go forward, to become involved, to commit and to hope.
The general atmosphere was driven by wilful optimism. A clear feeling of solidarity emerged from all the attendees. I met a female Minister, a female MP, and female CEOs, Directors, entrepreneurs, media and press professionals, members of voluntary organisations, and other proactive and fascinating people. However, I wasn’t aware of any hierarchy, difference, or elitism at any time. We were there to learn from others, to find solutions, to listen and to convey a positive message.
Now all the initiatives, the commitments made, and the big ideas must not evaporate, but must receive resounding support in the media, companies, governments, and in the day-to-day life of each one of us outside the Women’s Forum. Just as Véronique Morali said “A proactive woman has to be a committed woman!”