Can you tell us a little about the international Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2016?
This 12th edition of the Women’s Forum will bring together leaders from around the world (1,500 people from 70 countries), more than 80% of whom are women, from 30 November to 2 December in Deauville. The theme of this 2016 “Davos for Women” event is : “Is the sharing economy a sharing world?” The aim is to build a future that incorporates the views of women. The topics under discussion are economic and social issues. The annual event is the high point of this global platform, which has been working to promote diversity since its inception in 2005.
“ I’m very proud to be participating in this gathering and to be representing BNP Paribas through my participation. For me, it’s a way to show my commitment to inclusion and equality, two subjects that are close to my heart. ”
CEO of L'Atelier BNP Paribas North America
What does participating in the Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2016 mean to you?
I’m very proud to be participating in this gathering and to be representing BNP Paribas through my participation. For me, it’s a way to show my commitment to inclusion and equality, two subjects that are close to my heart. I joined BNP Paribas without the benefit of any special privileges – I didn’t come from an influential family or have a degree from a prestigious university. But I had faith that I would be able to advance my career, thanks to female role models such as Marie-Claire Cappobianco and, more recently, Nandita Bakhshi. I’ve also had very good male mentors.
The fact that this event welcomes both women and men is important. We must act together, both men and women, to help corporate cultures evolve. Because in the modern workplace, there’s still an enormous number of stereotypes and preconceived ideas that we need to fight against, even in the United States, where I live today.
I think that this type of forum helps to advance the role of women. By putting the spotlight on the views of women, we’re creating a virtuous circle that pushes the world to listen to women more. This creates a dynamic that I’m very happy to be a part of. It’s also an opportunity for women to speak up, to take on leadership roles and to demonstrate their ambitions. I’m part of a network of women here in Silicon Valley, the FAWEC (French American Women Executives Community, organised by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce), and our members often come to the same conclusions: women sometimes put the brakes on themselves. Impostor syndrome is a good example. We must dream big, dare to take chances, and speak up!
Can you tell us a bit more about the delegation of women entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley?
Several delegations will be present at the Forum. Some are organised by country. The one that I was invited to brings together approximately a dozen women from Silicon Valley. These are outstanding individuals who are working in the tech field. Some are French, others are English or American. We all wanted to live the American dream, which is the idea that everyone who lives in the United States can prosper through their work, their courage and their determination. Regardless of their gender or their country of origin! Yet there’s still a great deal of progress that needs to be made in the tech field in Silicon Valley. While women represent more than half of US graduates with Masters degrees, only 30% work in large companies in the tech field. And the gap widens further when we look at leadership positions. We need to change corporate cultures, fight against unconscious bias, have policies that foster equality (many companies are working to improve maternity leave and to help women return to work after having children). I hope that having a delegation dedicated to this part of the world, which has very little unemployment but still sees significant levels of inequality between men and women, will help to advance these issues. I’m proud to see that at L’Atelier BNP Paribas North America, we have perfect gender equality and a woman at the head of the company. As a female CEO, I’m living proof that it’s possible.
Can you briefly explain your role in the Forum?
I will be participating in several roundtables/workshops during the two days prior to the start of the Forum. The first roundtable will be hosted by Paris Pionnières (Paris Women Pioneers) on the topic of “Women in Tech”, with the participation of a number of other networks such as MixCity (BNP Paribas’ association for female executives), a workshop at BPI France with startups from their accelerator, and finally, I’ll be leading a workshop hosted by Instagram on using this type of social media to strengthen communities.
Needless to say, the unifying thread in all this is technology! All of these roundtables will be followed by networking events, which will help to create bridges between Silicon Valley and France. Our delegation will also be in the spotlight at the official dinner prior to the opening of the conference!
Pictures ©Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2016