Exhausted after my first day at the Women’s Forum, I began my morning with a trip to the Discovery Area at the Women’s Forum, which houses the branded stands. As Orange is offering digital coaching sessions with Alexandra Operto, the brands are engaged in a creative battle to offer us services to relax between two plenary sessions.
I began with an Amma massage on the Renault-Nissan corner. This was the first time I had tried this kind of massage. After fifteen minutes of ecstasy, I left refreshed, on a cloud as soft as a Renault Airbag ;)
Feeling revived, I heightened the buzz with a coffee at the Nespresso corner. With the vital energy of caffeine now flowing in my veins, I was officially energised!
I then went to the Sephora stand to boost my restored health. After a red manicure by Karen, which matched my outfit for the day, I went over to Lio’s mirror, to have myself made up, while retaining a natural look. The results are in the picture below. Not bad, eh?!
I left the Discovery area with my batteries fully charged, in order to attend my first conference of the day, which addressed this topical and crucial question: If we stop growing, does it is mean that we are failing? I had already obtained part of the answer from the interviews that I had held with the speakers before the event. But what about the day’s speakers?
I didn’t find any real answers among the answers provided by the day’s speakers. They all agreed on the fact that the current economic crisis shows that our economic system is no longer working, and that we must find alternative solutions. They agree on the fact that we cannot continue to use natural resources as if they were infinite. They all accept the fact that we need to rethink our system on a global and world-wide basis, in order to reduce inequalities between the world’s regions, and to enable a better redistribution of wealth to the people.
But there was little commitment to negative growth, and no real answer, aside from the comments by François Schneider, the environmental researcher who is responsible for the concept of “sustainable negative growth”. Mr Schneider, a fervent advocate of negative growth, asserts that it is a necessary step towards reaching a more balanced economy, which focuses on the relationships between men and women, on the availability of resources, and on a fairer production model. However, this issue of negative growth still seems taboo, and hard to envisage, both for the economists and for their audience in the room, who seemed relatively unreceptive to the idea. It’s as if the words “negative growth” frighten people.
Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at Boston College, confirmed that people have fallen into a syndrome where they fear negative growth, and that the economic obsession with growth at any cost has become natural to them. She added that, beyond the need to review our growth-based model, we must stop believing that Man is naturally materialistic. In fact, what is important for everyone is quality of life, the opportunity of taking our time, our personal health, and the planet’s health. At the end of the day, what matters is giving meaning to our life. The financial sector has brought us to the current crisis, as we have given it complete control, which we now have to take back.
This issue of time was actually the focus of the conference entitled “The impact of new technologies on our relationship with time” with Christine Albanel, Delphine Ernotte-Cunci and Fleur Pellerin.
Delphine Ernotte-Cunci, the Deputy CEO of Orange France returned to the “Time Collective” project, which we had presented a little while ago in an article that can be reread here. This project is based on three key issues:
- Time, from a philosophical, or even metaphysical standpoint: what is time?
- How can Orange, as a telecoms operator, help its customers to regain control and to manage their time by offering them useful services and applications? As a practical example, she mentioned the opportunity of switching off your Livebox remotely, in order to secure and control your children’s access to the Internet in your absence.
- How does Orange, as a company that has experienced a major employee-relations crisis, commit to helping its managers improve their time management, in order to forge closer ties with their colleagues?
As was the case yesterday, during the Mazars session on Generation Y, Delphine Ernotte-Cunci confirmed the need to find a work-life balance. In fact, when she suggested to her colleagues that they should not read their emails after 8.00pm, she was surprised to find that they didn’t want to do that, as they wanted to manage their time freely. For example, some of them need to collect their children from school, and want to leave earlier, and then read their emails in peace and quiet once the children are in bed. Therefore, it’s up to everyone to find their own balance.
The last plenary session of the day was with Stéphane Richard, who was speaking at the conference on CEO Champions: The power of business coalitions for moving the needle.
Coca-Cola, Orange and Sodexho are part of the CEO Champions group launched by the Women’s Forum in 2010, which consists exclusively of CEOs. Their aim is to accelerate fairness in companies and to commit to placing women in responsible positions.
Dominique Reiniche, the CEO, Europe, of the Coca-Cola Group, set the tone from the outset: “we are still a long way away from the fifty-fifty goal!” The company has made progress on this issue, but there is still a long way to go; however, Dominique Reiniche seems determined to reach his target quickly. Coca-Cola has therefore set up a women’s network, and several training programmes that enable new talents to be identified; these talented employees will be able to benefit from a mentor within the Group.
At Sodexo, meanwhile, Michel Landel, the Company’s CEO proudly announced that the ratio of women on his Board of Directors was 38%, while the ratio on his Management Committee was 25%, which corresponds to the target that the Company set itself eight years ago. In addition, Sodexho hired 5% more women this year. Michel Landel says that he is proud of these figures, but cannot be satisfied with them while women represent over half the population. “Having only 23% of Company executives who are women is not acceptable”; we need to improve quickly. He admits, however, that it is hard to convince people, and is therefore not opposed to quotas in some cases, in order to prove what he believes, i.e. that women are just as competent as men.
Meanwhile, where France Télécom – Orange is concerned, Stéphane Richard announced that 36% of the Group’s employees are women, and one third of the Board of Directors are women, although there are only two female members of the Executive Committee. “However, they are remarkable women”, he added, humorously. Orange also has four CEOs in challenging countries like Iraq, Moldavia, Niger, and Botswana.
There is still progress to be made, and Stéphane Richard is also counting on women to step up, as sometimes, it has to be said, it is women themselves who are reticent. As a major global company, the France Télécom – Orange Group has a role to play in combating stereotypes. In fact, Stéphane Richard regrets not seeing more women in the technical business lines or among engineering graduates, despite the fact that these are fast-growing sectors within the Group. He added, anecdotally, that 48% of men describe themselves as ambitious, while the ratio is only 35% where women are concerned. In fact, the challenge here is once again girls’ education, an issue that is a focal point of the Group’s strategy.
Conclusion: things are getting better, and we are making progress; however, these powerful companies must set themselves ambitious targets, announce those targets in a fully transparent manner, and give themselves the resources to reach them.
Another incredible day, made up of meetings, comments, and of profiles of exceptional women. I want more!