Past Events 

  • 22 Oct 2012 18:40 | Deleted user

    On 22nd October the European Network for Women in Leadership was hosted for its biannual meeting by Claude Bartolone, President of the French National Assembly. In the beautiful interiors of the Hôtel de Lassay distinguished speakers and an international audience from across Europe and the U.S. exchanged ideas and insights into the tension and balance between transparency and privacy in the digital era.

    The subject was broached from various political, business, media and scientific perspectives by: Claude Bartolone; Maureen Ohlhausen, U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner; Delphine Ernotte Cunci, Senior Executive Vice President of Orange France and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of France Telecom Group; Anne-Marie Kermarrec, Research Director at INRIA; and Sophie Pedder, Paris bureau chief of The Economist. Dorothee Belz, Microsoft Vice President Legal and Corporate Affairs Europe and WIL Vice President, brilliantly orchestrated the event.

    Almost a hundred high-level women attended the luncheon and the discussion, including CEOs, executives, European high civil servants, policy makers and academics, emerging leaders, as well as delegations from the American Global Women’s Innovation Network (GlobalWIN) and the British Pink Shoe Club – an exclusive women’s network located at the House of Lords.

    In his opening speech Claude Bartolone highlighted the importance of time and its acceleration by new technologies in the way people perceive and address the issue of transparency versus privacy. He stressed that these changes had become global challenges both for societies and decision-makers: “I have just come back from Washington (…) and I was struck to see that we are all dealing with the same problems (…). We met at the summit to discuss debt, to discuss demographics, but behind the scenes, in the corridors, we talked about information and communication technologies”.

    He also noted that such a gathering at the Hôtel de Lassay would have never been possible had it had not been for Thaima Samman, WIL President, with whom he had worked for several years and thanks to whom the network of women leaders was continuing to grow. Thaima Samman’s speech followed the introduction by Mr. Bartolone. She thanked the President of the National Assembly for hosting the event, and welcomed international guests and speakers. She spoke about the growth of WIL, which now has around 200 members of 20 nationalities, and about WIL’s current projects .

    Dorothee Belz briefly introduced the core topic of the meeting. She observed that apart from the time factor, it was the problem of data that was crucial for our understanding of the evolving relationship between privacy and transparency. Ms. Belz also raised a fundamental question of who should define new rules in this changing environment: companies, citizens or political leaders on behalf of the society?

    Maureen Ohlhausen discussed the subject from an institutional and legal perspective. She explained the role of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in creating the proper balance to protect consumer privacy while preserving benefits of the digital economy. The Commissioner presented an overview of privacy regulations in the U.S. and described the legal framework of the FTC’s authority in the area of consumer privacy. She referred to the recent FTC Privacy Report before speaking about the idea of “privacy by design” and a notice and choice concept based on the recognition that accurate information allows consumers to decide whether or not to let companies use their data in a particular way. In her conclusion, Ms. Ohlhausen emphasized the necessity to include competition theory in the analysis of new privacy and transparency policies.

    Delphine Ernotte Cunci focused on the issue of coherency between the corporate line and the image of a company created through the online activity of its employees. How to define “who’s speaking on behalf of whom”, if the Internet and social networks blur the lines between public and private life? Ms. Ernotte Cunci illustrated this problem by giving the example of ten thousand young Orange employees recruited last year, who had been using communication tools on a daily basis, and who had brought their social networking habits with them. She also addressed the issue of personal data processing from the perspective of Orange and its social responsibility policies. Last but not least, she referred to one of the important challenges related to the changing pace of time: “Time is becoming more concentrated and going faster, yet the time we need for creation, (…) for developing things for the future is not that short-term urgent pressure. We need time to create (…). It cannot be done in the immediate present”.

    Anne-Marie Kermarrec gave an overview of the state of technologies today and indicated key technological players. She underlined the point that people using digital tools have become independent actors and prolific producers of content. She provided insight and some thinking points on the role of technical specialists and society at large in setting rules for using new digital tools. Ms. Kermarrec also stressed the importance of bridging the gap in understanding how modern technologies work and behave in the global context. According to her, it is essential to explain to users some basic algorithms and rules of information dissemination on the Internet, so that they can better understand the impact of their individual choices and actions.

    Sophie Pedder spoke about the tension between privacy and transparency from the perspective of a journalist with 22 years of professional experience, who has observed radical changes in the media industry ushered in by new technologies. She started with a presentation of the main principles of regulation of the British media, which is “bound by a certain code of ethics to respect private life and to publish only what is in the national interest, and not necessarily what the nation is interested in”. Ms. Pedder said that “the Internet and the digital revolution (…) upturned everything” and challenged the principle of self-regulation, which had been confronted with the “publish whenever you can” rule of tabloid journalism. She illustrated her point with a couple of lessons from recent media scandals.

    According to Ms. Pedder, it is very difficult to define where the line should be drawn between the public and private sphere, but the basic question that media should answer before publishing anything remains the same: “Is it in the public interest, or are we only interested in the voyeuristic sense?” In her conclusion, she emphasized that this guideline has not changed with the emergence of new technologies, but the speed and the manner in which it is applied.

    In his closing remarks, Claude Bartolone spoke about the need to keep the discussed issues high in the legislative agenda of France, Europe and the world, since national action on such issues was necessary but not sufficient: “We can see that with the speed with which messages are sent out around the world – in a tenth or a thousandth of a second – it would be quite impossible for national regulations to cope with this”.

    Women Talent Pool training session

    The discussion on privacy and transparency was followed by a presentation of the progress of the Women Talent Pool (WTP) program. Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director EMEA at Microsoft and the coordinator of the project since its launch in January 2012, spoke about how important it is to identify talent early and give young dynamic women all the tools and possibilities they may need to develop true leadership qualities. She emphasized the role of networks such as WIL in creating opportunities, supporting individual growth and engaging future leaders in valuable initiatives. Two Women Talent Pool participants: Bettina Duwe (Branch Head at Capgemini) and Cristina Hoffmann (Lead Designer, Group Design & User Experience at Orange), shared their WTP experiences with the audience. For Ms. Duwe, WIL was “a nucleus of women’s power and spirit”. She underlined the importance of WIL training for her professional development, and gave examples of skills she could share with her team thanks to the program. Ms. Hoffmann spoke about the value of connection. She emphasized the fact that WIL connected young women to the richness of a world they had not yet experienced. She also said that by sharing their knowledge and presenting alternatives of what it meant to be successful, WIL role models helped young leaders discover different career paths and invent themselves.

    It was an intense day for the young leaders. On the morning of 22nd October, WIL invited twenty of its Emerging Talents to participate in a communication skills training session led by Corinne Got-Camard, General Manager, and Thierry Derrien, Senior Account Director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

    In the afternoon, after the luncheon at the French Parliament, the group visited Orange Innovation Gardens accompanied by the GlobalWIN delegation. Nathalie Wright, Director of the Enterprises and Partners Division at Microsoft France and WIL role model, chaired a discussion with Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, WIL President Thaima Samman and Orange women executives: Elisabeth Belois-Fonteix (Orange Labs Networks & Carriers’ HR Director), Claire Paponneau (Senior Vice President International Operations WECA), Nadine Foulon-Belkacemi (Orange Labs Networks & Carriers, Senior Vice President Transformation) and Brigitte Bourgoin (Chief Compliance Officer). The exchange focused on career milestones, work-life balance management and the importance of networks for successful professional development.

    A brief presentation of new technologies in healthcare and 3D imaging developed in Orange Labs completed the program of the session.

    Click here to read Emerging Talents' feedback.

  • 20 Jun 2012 13:29 | Deleted user

    On June 20th 2012, WIL Members gathered together for their second General Assembly in an ambitious format: in two locations - Brussels and Paris, as well as by phone/Web conference. After overcoming the technical issues (perversity of inanimate objects ;-)), Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit Multilingualism and Translation Studies, EU Commission & WIL Secretary General, presented an overview of WIL’s Achievements. Then, Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director EMEA, Microsoft & WIL Co-founder, presented the outcomes and next steps of the very successful WIL Women Talent Pool program.

    The past year has been very successful in terms of developing and strengthening partnerships. These include an enhanced WIL’s partnership with INSEAD, a new Women Talent Pool programme sponsor - Qualcomm and strengthening of relations with Administration Modèrne, AmCham France and European Movement Network Germany.

    WIL Secretary General also presented the outcomes of last years’ WIL events, starting from WIL’s first General Assembly hosted at the Orange Campus in Paris, by Stéphane Richard, CEO and Chairman Orange in July 2011. Some of the main issues tackled during WIL’s 2011/2012 events, included Improving corporate governance, nourishing the female talent pipeline (also in ICT), EU competitiveness, boosting women’s leadership in arts and through arts and the question of women on boards. Some of the main outcomes included strengthening the European dimension of the network (including discussion on setting up a WIL German chapter) and WIL’s involvement in various initiatives, such as WIL Appeal for Europe, WIL Compendium of Best Practices, participation to Commission’s public consultation on Women on Boards, and finally, the launch of the Women Talent Pool as WIL’s flagship programme.

    Mrs. Contino also took the opportunity to announce the upcoming WIL events: the Biannual meeting in partnership with GlobalWIN, WIL’s Washington-based partners (October 2012, Paris) and a session on women in the digital society during the Global Forum in ICT, which will take place on (13th November, Stockholm).

    Bertrand Salord, Government Affairs Manager, Microsoft Europe & WIL Treasurer, shared with the WIL Members the details of the organisation’s Financial Accountability and the outcomes of the vote held prior to the meeting.

    After a brief summary of the first outcomes of the Women Talent Pool Programme, Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director EMEA, Microsoft & WIL Co-founder, shared its next steps and activities planned for the coming months (both online and offline). She also encouraged WIL Members to share ideas on the WTP, stressing the value of the contribution senior women can bring to the Emerging Leaders.

    Women Matter Report Presentation

    During the second part of the General Assembly, WIL Members and guests were invited to join a presentation of the outcomes of the McKinsey "Women Matter 2012, How to make the breakthrough?" research. Two research co-authors, Sandrine Devillard, Director at McKinsey and Wieteke Graven, Senior expert at McKinsey, joined the GA from Paris and Brussels.

    In the 2012 Women Matter edition, McKinsey benchmarked European companies on the types and effectiveness of their diversity policies. The findings helped each company to identify the key challenges they are facing with regards to improving female representation in top-level positions as well as assess the most impactful measures to address these. According to the report, more companies see gender diversity as a top strategic priority than they used to in 2012, however there is still a long way to go.

    Getting more women to the top is driven at societal, institutional and individual level.The leadership behaviours more frequently applied by women, which include people development, expectations and rewards, role models, inspiration, participation in decision making, improve organisational performance. Nevertheless, women are undrrepresented at all hirearchical levels, not only at top management.

    There are several reasons why so few companies are successful in addressing the gender balance issue within their organisation. Many measures are not implemented in the most effective way in terms of visible actions, communication and participation. Commitment at the top also does not necessarily cascade to middle management. According to research, there is often also a lack of focus – companies do not know the exact challenges (the facts) and do not involve the target group.

    Successful companies on the other hand have a good understanding of facts and figures on diversity and target initiatives at their particular challenges. More visible senior management commitment is also crucial, as it contributes towards a change in mindsets. Women develop best as leaders through training & coaching, mentoring and networks, as well as role models.

    According to the findings of McKinsey’s studies, the key to reaching a better balanced environment is to build a whole gender diversity ecosystem; gender diversity needs to be on top of the strategic agenda. Changes are necessary in gender diversity indicators, HR processes and policies and company infrastructure. It is also crucial that the CEO and executive team visibly monitor progress in gender diversity programs. What counts is: senior management commitment, tracking, culture and diligent implementation.

    As a result of the Women Matter study, McKinsey identified 13 gender diversity measures: flexible working conditions, visible monitoring by the CEO and the executive team of the progress in gender-diversity programmes, programmes t o encourage female networking and role models, facilities to reconcile work and family life, mentoring of junior women…

    Below you can download the full report.

    To learn more, visit the McKinsey website.

    If you have specific questions regarding the study, feel free to contact Caroline de Boer, Assistant to Wieteke Graven: Caroline_de_Boer@mckinsey.com

  • 06 Mar 2012 15:38 | Deleted user

    On 6th of March 2012, exactly four years after WIL’s first event, Viviane Reding, Vice-president of the European Commission, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship of the European Commission and Pervenche Berès, Chair Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament joined us for a WIL/JUMP event on ‘Female Talent in the Pipeline. Accountability in the Boardroom’. WIL’s 4th anniversary was also an opportunity to launch of the Women Talent Pool Programme, built to support high potential women in mid-management positions by offering them mentoring, training and networking opportunities.

    In early 2011 Ms Reding appealed to European companies to implement voluntary changes by increasing the proportion of women on their boards to 30 per cent by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020. If the progress within a year would not be satisfactory, she said she would use her 'regulatory creativity'. In this context, the day before WIL’s 4th Anniversary, the Commissioner announced the launch of a public consultation (based on her Progress Report) to assess possible EU-level measures to enhance female participation in economic decision-making.

    MEP Beres stressed the importance of looking at different dimensions of the issue and dealing with the question of corporate governance and the question women in society in general.

    WIL President Thaima Samman shared WIL’s stand, that while quotas might be necessary, they are only one out of the many solutions to improve the gender balance situation; WIL is committed to working on the pipeline.

    Vice-president Reding’s Stand on Women on Boards

    Commissioner Reding opened the discussion noting that while last year the number of women on boards in Europe has grown from 12 to 14 per cent, this increase took place only in countries which introduced quotas. 'I don’t like quotas myself but I like what quotas do (…) the goal is to have a world where we don’t need to speak about quotas', she said. The speaker stressed that there is a clear correlation between the presence of women on boards and key economic indicators; women mean business. Quoting McKinsey and Catalyst studies, Commissioner Reding noted that companies with women in management at all levels have a higher return on investment and more valuable stocks. According to research conducted by Ernst and Young, sales and earnings in companies with at least one woman on board are significantly higher than those with male-only boards. Ms Reding also stressed the long-term effect women’s presence has on companies’ business culture. When women join boards, a change of mentality can be observed, they inspire a more objective assessment of processes, the discussions start to change. Diversity improves the quality of decisions. Women are also more risk aware when taking decisions with financial impact.

    Ms Reding stressed, that female talent is available - 65 per cent of university graduates are females. She also described her initiative, through which a group of universities will come up with a pool of 2500 ‘boardable’ women, selected through a strict process. Such pool could then be presented to companies, who claim to have difficulties finding the right women for board positions.

    She also spoke about the importance of having women models and the need for women to learn from men to network. In Commissioner’s view, we should also encourage the younger generation to take on technology jobs. We need to transmit to the future leaders that technology serves society; “it is all about people, not machines”, she noted.

    The Launch of the Public Consultation

    A year ago Ms Reding appealed to companies across Europe to implement voluntary changes in their companies it is time to take further steps. In this context, she announced the launch of a public consultation based on the Progress Report "Women in economic decision-making in the EU", which she presented on 5 March 2012. The aim of the consultation is to assess possible EU-level measures to enhance female participation in economic decision-making, in order to inform the Commission's decision on whether to propose action and on the form it should take.

    In this context WIL shared with its guest speakers the WIL Compendium of Gender-Related Best Practices – WIL’s initiative towards promoting a better female representation in companies. The document is composed of examples of programmes and initiatives supporting women in leadership, created by a joint effort of WIL Members. The idea of this ongoing initiative is to keep updating the Compendium with the most recent best practice caces.

    MEP Pervenche Berès – Solutions to the Issue of Female Representation

    Pervenche Berès stressed the importance of networking and “organising ourselves to use our power to empower others”. The MEP shared her conviction, that self-regulation is not a solution; “I believe in fair, proportionate, well-written laws (…) [their implementation] is a way to influence and change behaviors”, she stated. However she also noted that it would be naïve to think that quotas are enough, since they might not be respected - some organisations would rather pay the sanctions than find the right woman for the position. Ms Beres also stressed the importance of paying enough attention to the two other dimensions of the issue of female representation: the question of women in society in general and the question of corporate governance. By focusing only on increasing female participation by obliging companies to have women on boards, we won’t change the entire situation of gender representation. We need to deal with all the dimensions to fully embrace the issue.

    The Women Talent Pool

    Speaking both as a woman and a business representative, Elena Bonfiglioli, stressed the importance of developing women in leadership. The Women Talent Pool’s Lead presented the Programme’s mission of ensuring that the future leaders won’t have to face the same challenges WIL Members had to overcome during their career paths.

    Elena Bonflglioli also described the Women Talent Pool’s goals: early identification of talents, peer to peer learning through tapping into the potential of more senior women leaders (WIL Members), nourishing talents to enable learning out of the boundaries of their roles, helping them develop as leaders in a holistic way and, finally, giving the talents a voice. She noted that it is our duty to invest resources, time and training in the young generation, as it is them, who will make the future of our society and organisations. While describing the successful kick-off of the WTP, she referred to the Emerging Leaders as ”pearls” and offered them a round of applause.

    Both before and after the intense discussions over lunch, the Emerging Leaders (young talents) benefited from WTP learning opportunities. They participated in a morning of intensive trainings, offered by four professors from the Center for Evolutionary Learning: Wolfgang Hackl, Benoit de Bellefroid, Maurizio Zollo and Kris Vander Velpen, who discussed different aspects of leadership and entrepreneurship and demonstrated to the WTP Participants the practice of meditation. The EL were also given the opportunity to visit the European Parliament, during which MEP Mary Honeyball shared with them her insights on possible career paths in EU institutions.

    Current Situation of Women in Leadership - Presentation by JUMP

    Based on the results of recent studies, Isabella Lenarduzzi presented an overview of the current state of female representation on boards, which, as she noted, is not just as a European issue – in the US, there is 16 percent of women on boards and only 2 per cent out of Fortune’s 500 companies are chaired by women. Boardrooms do not become gender balanced naturally, the speaker stated. Evidence suggests that in most EU member states, results of self-regulation have been very modest. New clauses on gender equality in Corporate Governance codes have, on average, produced an increase of around 2 per cent in the two years following the adoption of the Code. Ms Lenarduzzi noted that in most cases Corporate Governance Codes lack targets and deadlines for attaining them. According to her view, self-regulation is nevertheless a useful step before implementing legislation, as it helps to change attitudes, encourages the business world to start looking for women candidates and creates a public debate. Social pressures and a culture that supports women in the workplace are the driving forces that foster greater diversity at a senior level. Ms Lenarduzzi also expressed her view that quota legislation must be accompanied by measures to support enterprises to reach the targets and advance women and to raise awareness of the benefits of gender balance, as well as stressed the significance of implementing intermediary targets. The speaker appealed to the audience: ’Let’s remember that women’s energy and talent are the most untapped renewable resources in the world!’

    WIL Anniversary
  • 31 Jan 2012 15:41 | Deleted user

    On 31st of January 2012, WIL members gathered together for a discussion on the topic of “Boosting Women’s Leadership in Arts and Through Arts”.

    Mr John Vassalo, Vice President EU Affairs, Microsoft, welcomed the guests at Microsoft’s premises in Brussels and spoke about the company’s initiatives supporting women and art. He also noted that in the future, increasing importance of technology and its applications in everyday life, we are going to need more technicians and stressed, that technical knowledge is going to become increasingly important also for artists.

    Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit Multilingualism and Translation Studies, DG Translations, European Commission, roundtable moderator, opened the discussion by quoting Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, who stated, that: “Arts and culture are a public good which should be available to everyone”. According to Ms Contino, we can talk about art and culture from different points of view, including: subjective, social and economic. When addressing the question of what art really is, some of the issues that need to be considered, are: the relationship between art and society, the relationship between art and culture and finally the relationship between art, culture and economy. Referring to Commissioner Vassiliou’s viewpoint, Ms Contino also asked the question of how to ensure the dissemination of culture, while at the same time ensuring the survival of the artists.

    Sophie Shoukens spoke about the way she sees art. She noted that we are all the time chasing our shadows, and we, women know it even better if we have children, families, careers, businesses... The world we live in is gradually becoming more and more formatted and formalized. Art is there to break the patterns. It allows us to freeze our minds for a second. It brings hope…

    Going into discussing more practical aspects of art and culture, Ms Shoukens also spoke about her career path. She shared her experience of: working as producer and supporting the artists in front of their publishers, who often base their decisions on whether or not to publish a particular piece on Marketing studies; working in the European Commission, as Head of Cultural Developments, and finally, her journey as a film director. In her films, “Alice or Life in Black and White” and “Marieke, Marieke”, she presents the way cultural paradigms influence women’s choices and is often touching on the meaning of femininity in different contexts.

    Laure Kaltenbach, Director General Forum d’Avignon - introduced by Ms Contino as a woman who ties together culture, art, economy and society - spoke about culture from two different points or view: anthropologic and economic. Ms Kaltenbach stressed the significance of the cultural industry, which, while having worldwide revenues of over 1,3 billion dollars is often underestimated.

    Drawing on the example of the Guggenheim museum, the opening of which completely transformed the Spanish city of Bilbao, leading to a drastic drop in unemployment (from 21 to 4 per cent), she discussed the economic importance of a strategy on culture for each community. . In her view, when talking about the links between culture and economy, there is a need to touch on the issue of social equasion; Ms Kaltenbach stressed, that by enabling social cohesion, culture pushes people to engage in joint projects, thus contributing to the economy.

    Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director EMEA, Microsoft, used the opportunity of WIL meeting to raise awareness of its Women Talent Pool programme and provided the gathered guests with its description, as well as encouraged all the WIL members, who share the network’s vision of nurturing talent, to engage high potential women from their circles in WIL’s activities and provide them with the opportunity to become WIL members. She also announced the official launch of the Women Talent Pool Programme, which will take during WIL’s 4th anniversary event, on 6th of March.

    In conclusion, WIL’s first event on the topic of art and culture turned out to be a success and led to the conclusion, that the cultural industry has a lot of potential to help revive the European economy.

    WIL’s Women Talent Pool pre-launch gathering

    During the day, WIL also had the pleasure to welcome for the first time at its event some of the young talents (Emerging Leaders) participating in WIL’s Women Talent Pool Programme, an initiative built to support high potential women in mid-management positions by offering them mentoring, training and networking opportunities.

    A report on the Women Talent Pool pre-launch gathering is available here.

  • 07 Dec 2011 16:00 | Deleted user

    On 7th of December 2011, at Amcham’s offices, we had the pleasure to host yet another breakfast organized by the Women Leaders’ Taskforce, created through the joint effort of Amcham and WIL. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the current initiatives regarding financial regulation and the underlying challenges.

    Two high-level speakers: Darcy Bradbury, Managing Director of D. E. Shaw & Co., a global investment and technology development firm based in New York and Xavier Tessier, Special Advisor to the President of the AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers), presented an overview of the current situation and ways of addressing the economic/financial crisis from the point of view of the regulators and the market.

    Mr. Xavier Tessier spoke about the need to analyze the weakness of the current financial system in order to move forward, as well as the challenges brought by the technological developments. He presented the question of financial markets supervision in Europe as well as international cooperation and the issue of how Europe should address the regulation of cross-border financial services. In his view, one of the most important challenges Europe is now facing is reforming the equity market. Mr. Tessier also noted that some member states are reluctant to move towards a deeper integration.

    The three main topics discussed by Ms. Darcy Bradbury were: structural issues in the EU, changes in technology and changes in the markets. She stressed the importance of creating trust and of developing efficient and pragmatic rules to regulate financial markets. She also spoke about the changes in the role of banks, which until recently had a much larger role in providing capital and are now becoming intermediaries. When discussing the role of technology, Ms. Bradbury pointed out the issue of opacity vs. transparency. Technology lowers costs and allows for more efficiency but at the same time it can raise some issues which should be addressed through regulation.

    During the debate, several upfront questions were asked. When addressing a question on shadow banking being a potential source of danger, Mr. Tessier stressed the importance of finding the right balance between regulation and non-regulation. Ms. Bradbury engaged in a discussion on the role of the emerging markets; Asian central banks taking responsibility, China, with its technology focus, emerging as a major player in the financial world. As an example of the use of technology outside Europe she mentioned the application of mobile banking in India and Africa. Asked about the ways of stretching the relationship between the industry and citizens, Mr Tessier spoke about the significance of financial education, the level of which, according to recent surveys, is very low, both in France and in the UK.

    The breakfast turned out to be a very successful exchange between the Taskforce members and guests.

    Thank you to those of you who joined us.

  • 24 Nov 2011 15:48 | Deleted user

    Held for the first time in Germany, on 24th of November, WIL biannual event was held in a pro-European environment, where prominent speakers, WIL members, guests and members of the Network European Movement Germany, which partnered with us for this event, exchanged their views on the current status of European Union and discussed possible solutions to regain the European strength.

    The event was opened by Thaima Samman, WIL President, who stressed the European mission of the network and the intention of intensifying its activity in Germany.

    Roundtable 1 - Delivering the Right Mechanisms to Strengthen the Single Market

    As WIL board member, Ms Marie-Therese Huppertz, Vice President Governmental relations of SAP AG, moderated the discussion and expressed the need of supporting the EU in times when the European leaders are struggling to find a viable path to a stronger unity.

    Ms Ana Palacio, Special advisor of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship to the European Commission and former Minister of External Affairs in Spain, shared her view on the crisis and opened the discussion of the first panel, on delivering the right mechanisms to strengthen the Single Market. In her view, the current crisis has three major drivers: loss of citizens’ confidence in the European Union, pressure of the markets, which are now driving political decisions and the failure of European policies, which is being dominated by the local policy. Looking for a source of solution, Mrs Palacio proposed a “back to basic” approach. According to her view, there is a need to reinforce the already signed treaties and aim for unity, harmonize Europe from within, make the single market more functional for services and people, not only for capital, allow the political act to become politically rather than economically driven and promote the idea of unity and belief in a common future to the younger generation.

    Mr Guillaume Klossa, President of EuropaNova, spoke about the economic and political pressures EU and EU countries are facing; they are being considered as risk areas by investors outside Europe. He stressed the need for filling the gap between citizens and politicians. In his vision, the roots of the single market would lie in an authentic democratization of the Union. In order to regain the investors’ trust, investments in innovation, research and education are necessary.

    The founder and CEO of Go Beyond Ltd, Member of the Board of the European Business Angels Network, Ms Brigitte Baumann, expressed a more optimistic view on Europe, listing technology, innovation and research as areas which are still attractive for foreign investment. Potential sources of immediate reinvigoration of the European economy would be: entrepreneurship, access to finance and a higher level of women involvement in innovation and technology. Ms Baumann called for more agility, less thinking and more action in the European economic space. As potential sources of immediate reinvigoration of the European economy she listed entrepreneurship, financing and a higher level of women’s involvement.

    Ms Viviane de Beaufort, Professor at ESSEC and Co-Director of the European Centre for Law and Economics, analysed the European competitiveness from a legal point of view. There is a need to rethink the rules or to change their application in order to build an external side of the single market, create the conditions for European companies to invest in external markets, better implement intellectual property rights and ensure reciprocity for fare trade rather than free trade. Four areas of the Single Market need to be improved: foreign investment, government procurement, takeover rules and competition rules. In Ms de Beaufort’s view, we should open new markets by bilateral agreements and by introducing the reciprocity principle at an international level. She also stressed the need to change the legal framework in four areas, in which Europe is acting as Single Market: EU Control over foreign investment, takeover rules, competition rules and legal opening of government procurement. The speaker concluded with a positive note, mentioning the big changes at the political level in EU and the European Commission’s work on changing the ways of applying the rules.

    Roundtable 2 - Restoring Confidence and Stimulating Growth and Jobs in the European Social Market Economy

    The second panel discussed the issue of restoring confidence in the EU and job creation. Its moderator, Ms Dorothee Belz, Associate General Counsel at Microsoft and WIL Vice President, gave an overview of the different perceptions of the European Union in Germany in different environments.

    Mr Rainer Wieland, Vice President of the European Parliament, expressed his belief in the success of the EU. He defined the Euro crisis as a crisis of national states, not a union crisis and called for a temperate voice of European western countries, inviting them to think that their welfare might be temporary in the context of global economy. Mr Wieland also stressed the importance of regaining the trust of the citizens by educating them about the benefits European Union brings, including peace and sustainability. As an inspiration to solving the financial crisis he mentioned the example of the success of Islamic banks and stressed the need to focus on a financial platform to generate sustainability.

    Ms Brigitte Baumann called for legislation at a European level, less local entrepreneurship and promotion of an innovative culture by building strong bridges between universities, industries and entrepreneurs in order to leverage new product development.

    Ms Ulrike Guérot, the Head of Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, spoke about the German citizens feeling a sense of unfairness, which is generated by lack of consistence in political messages and the disconnection between citizens, business and politics. In her view, Europe is currently facing a confidence crisis rather than a debt crisis.

    Supporting the idea of EU solidarity, Ms Irina Gruschewaja, Founder of „To The Children of Tschernobyl“ foundation, presented an analogy between the Greece’s need for financing and the way in which Berlin is financially supported by Bavarians.

    Ms Andreea Paul, Counsellor of the Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, summarized the discussion and shared her experience as the Chief of the Competence Council in Romania. She stressed the need for a more united Europe. In her view, diminishing the gender gap is a source of more stable, more creative and less corrupted economic environment.

    During the ”Women of Europe 2011” evening ceremony award, The Network European Movement in Germany honoured Irina Gruschewaja, the founder of To The Children of Tschernobyl foundation for her efforts to fight the radiations effect on children in the context of Belarus government blockage.

    WiL’s pro-European message was presented to the audience by Prof. Ursula Männle, Board Member of European Movement Germany, and Mrs Rita Süssmuth, President of the German Federal Parliament a.D..who, among other event participants encouraged WiL’s activity, especially its Appeal for Europe, stating: “Once we talk with each other the pieces of the puzzle can be assembled. If we do not talk, we fall apart.”

  • 08 Nov 2011 16:04 | Deleted user

    For the second time, the organizers of the Global Forum in ICT have handed over to WIL the mission to engage the key ICT stakeholders gathering annually to this prestigious event, in a debate on promoting women in the information society. Several profound speakers brought forward best practices to nourish the female talent pipeline. The event was also an opportunity to officially present the WIL Women Talent Pool program.

    The framework was set up by Mary Honeyball, Member Committees on Culture and Education & on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament and Cecilia Castano Collado, Professor at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who is running extensive research on gender and ICT.

    MEP Mary Honeyball warned about falling under the complacency, that women have already ‘done it’ and called upon women in leadership positions to keep campaigning themselves. The MEP also stressed that in order to improve gender balance there is a need to focus on the practical arrangements, such as sorting out the work-life balance. We should take steps towards reaching more acceptance of flexible/part-time working including fighting the culture of presenteeism, in which it is those who are ‘there’, e.g. going for drinks after work, that aregetting promoted. We also need to start changing attitudes about parental responsibility. Affordable childcare should become part of the very fabric of our society.

    Cecilia Castano Collado, Full Professor, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, spoke more specifically on women in ICT and shared her perspective on smart, sustainable, inclusive growth being gender inclusive growth. Dr. Castano took the opportunity to present the findings from a 2008 survey on ICT research groups in Spain. Gender diverse organisations and institutions are more flexible and open, closer to the people and society. What is needed, she argued, are changes both in cultural practices and policies aimed at institutional and cultural bodies to increase women’s participation and improve their access to leadership positions. Dr. Castano also stressed the importance of improving employer practices, the challenge being reforming private and public institutions in the field of science and IT. Another topic touched upon by Dr. Castano was the approach to ways of attaining a gender-balance - in her view we should change from the insistence on the presence of women to the insistence on having women on high-level positions.

    Drawing on her 10 years of experience in the field and recent research on the topic, Samia Melhem, Senior Operations Officer Global ICT Department, World Bank Group, discussed the issue of ICT adoption and production by women in developing countries. Mrs Melhem stressed that in the developing countries there are huge disparities in how men and women adopt ICT and a lot of stigma associated with women; using the internet or a mobile by a woman is seen as daring. When the World Bank builds telecenters in the developing world to provide free trainings, it is usually boys and men that take advantage. Therefore there is a need for proactive policies to ensure a certain level of women participation in each project. One way of approaching the issue applied by the World Bank is hiring gender experts to conduct trainings on how to use mobile platforms. Mrs Melhem also discussed the participation of women in developing countries in the science and technology fields. There is a stereotype that women can’t be successful engineers or computer scientists. According to Mrs Melhem’s view, one solution to the issue is to create incentives – connecting science and technology with jobs. In order to build the talent pipeline early on, messages at primary and secondary schools need to be reformed.

    Ingrid Andersson, Senior Executive Advisor at the Swedish Patient Certificate Scheme, shared her experiences working on a program with the OECD on fostering women entrepreneurship in the MENA region. According to research, women drive job creation, economic growth and social cohesion. When women intervene in society, democratization process is better implemented, investments in health and education and the creation of new companies being among the first visible results.

    Jo Perrin, Director of International Public Relations, Verizon, touched upon the power of technology to create opportunities for women and the ways in which women can apply technology to their benefit. Mrs Perrin stressed the importance of networks - they give women a voice, more access to information, education, information and ideas and opportunities to share on a global basis. She also spoke about technology enabling us to create our own circles of trust, which can help people rise to higher levels of leadership. She also explained how Verizon advances its female employees through its own women’s network. The idea is focused around mentoring, community outreach, removing the geographical barriers and create Verizon committees across Europe and the globe. As a best practice case, Mrs. Perrin also presented Verizon’s ‘Getting To Know You’ programme, giving to women wanting to advance in the organization access to the senior leaders and organizing live sessions, during which women on top positions share their experiences and talk about their career paths.

    Margot Dor, Director Partnerships & EU Affairs, European Telecommunications Standards Institute, presented a different view on the issue of female representation. She advised women to play the system, rather than fight it.

    Alison Birkett, Asia Coordinator; Japan, Korea; UN Broadband Commission at the European Commission, stressed that the EU is concerned about the issue of the pipeline of women in ICT. The EU commission has set up a code of best practices supported by around 60 ICT companies and organisations in Europe, which looks at several aspects including education, recruitment, career development and returning to work after leave. Solutions to some of these issues are in the classroom, not just the boardroom; role models of successful women should render themselves more often. Mrs Birkett also spoke about the perception that women are not very good at technology, drawing on a unique example of the testimony of Ms Kate Craig-Wood, Female Entrepreneur, Technology Speaker & Green IT Expert, who underwent a gender reassignment and claims, that after the sex change, it has become very difficult to get the ‘guys’ to take her seriously when talking about technology. To conclude, Mrs Birkett listed possible solutions to push things forward: networking, mentoring, promotion and understanding.

    During the event we have been presented research results, which show that gender diversity is related to excellence and innovation, women drive job creation, economic growth and social cohesion. When women go in, we can observe a better democratization process, investment in health and education and new companies creation. According to our guest speakers, in order to move forward and we need to go into the younger generation. There is a need of changes in the classroom, not just the boardroom. We also need to address the issues of work-life balance. Technology can be used by women to their benefit; it enables us to create our own circles of trust, e.g. networks, which can help people rise to higher levels of leadership, as well as makes flexible, family-friendly working more feasible.

    Women Talent Pool

    During the second part of the event, we took the opportunity to present the Women Talent Pool - a 36-months programme, built to help women on mid-level management positions grow professionally, through offering them networking and learning opportunities.

    The main sponsors, Brigitte Dumont, Deputy Group HR, Executive Vice-president France Télécom, and Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director Health EMEA, Microsoft, explained why they chose to endorse this program and how it comes in prolongation of their companies’ strategy to boost women’s participation.

    Their appeal to support the next generation of leaders was strengthened by the testimonies of the WIL members directly involved in the program, as well as two promising Talent Pool participants.

    Katherine Corich, CEO Sysdoc, wants to be a coach because she believes that the challenges females face in the workplace aren’t around talent; there is a serious need for change in the workplace and organisations that lead some of the big decisions in the world. According to her view, this can be achieved only with diversity. She would like to see young women being coached to learn to challenge and deliver the change we need; “I want to see become better leaders to make the world a better place. I also want to see much, much more job creations and I think both of those are possible”. Katherine Corich also offered a piece of advice to younger women, to never compromise on themselves or their own values. She believes that she will also learn from the programme - interacting with new people and new cultures gives you a perspective perhaps you haven’t had before.

    Sabine Lochmann, General Manager Market Access, Johnson & Johnson Medical Companies noted, that when want to reach a leadership position, they are entering into competition with males. A platform such as WIL allows women to share their views and insights about leadership .The piece of advice Sabine Lochmann would give to women, is to trust in themselves and their vision about what they want to do and to stick to it. She believes that when we are giving, we are also receiving – globally and individually growing, thanks to these exchanges, talks.

    The experience Isabella de Michelis di Slongello, Vice-president for Public Policy and Government Affairs, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, Qualcomm, shared with WIL members, is that it is the DO minded attitude, that really makes a difference. “To work in a global environment for one of the 500 Fortune companies, operating in 5 different time zones, be a mother, have a social life and still be doing some sports... it’s a challenge” she stated. It is nevertheless feasible and young talents need to know that these realities exist.

    The testimonies of Role Models were followed by a short introduction of two Emerging Leaders: Aurélie Feld, Deputy Managing Director, PlaNet Finance and Marie-Hélène Briens, Sales manager, Top Markets, France Télécom, who spoke about their expectations from WTP. What they are looking for in the programme, is access to female role models, opportunities to develop their skills and competencies, being able to learn how to advance their careers.

    After hearing the motivating testimonies of the Role Models and Emerging Leaders, we are confident that the programme is going to turn out to be a success and a learning experience for all of its participants. We are looking forward to the January kick-off and being able to share with you its outcomes.

  • 06 Oct 2011 16:45 | Deleted user

    On 6 October, the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL), in cooperation with Administration Moderne, the French association of female high civil servants and the American Chamber of Commerce in France held a high-level debate around the topic of governance. Over 70 high-profile attendees joined us at Swisslife Banque Privée to discuss and propose solutions to improve governance in the context of the financial crisis, which go beyond the sole use of quotas on Boards.

    Economic, Social and Financial Governance. The New Models of Governance, New Opportunities for Women.

    The first roundtable, moderated by WIL President, Thaima Samman, touched upon policy and theoretical issues regarding governance, in particular diversity on boards.

    Eugenia Bieto, Director General of ESADE, is the first and only woman running a business school in Europe. As a renowned researcher in entrepreneurship, she spoke about women’s reluctance to setting up large enterprises, as well as their distinctive leadership style. The cultural background and women’s self-perception strongly influence their entrepreneurial skills. While women often consider themselves unable to reach others’ expectations or limit themselves because of the job requirements, they also have a relational leadership style, meaning that they avoid a hierarchical distribution of tasks and conflicts. According to Dr. Bieto, the current crisis needs entrepreneurs with large projects, to create growth, who also know how to lead in a more disseminated way, to avoid another crisis. There is a need to both encourage women to be more entrepreneurial, and to promote a relational, ‘feminine-like’ type of leadership.

    Ramon Fernandez, General Director for the French Treasury and Economic Policy, discussed the measures taken by the French Treasury to increase women’s participation in management positions - it has a clear target to rise women’s presence at the top from 12% to 25% (22% currently). Mr. Fernandez stressed that there is a need to strengthen the female talent pipeline from a very early stage. The measure he has taken include taking positive discriminatory decisions at recruitment stage and changes in the working culture (e.g. focus on reaching targets rather than being obliged to stick to strict working hours, replacing women on maternity leaves with male interims). He also recommended a method applied by his former superior and current IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who, based on a list of high potential women she had, named women in top-level positions in her ministry.

    Paulina Dejmek, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier, spoke about lawmakers’ duty to take action in order to enhance diversity at Board and executive levels, in general and in terms of women’s presence. She pointed out that the recent public consultation held by the Commission on improving corporate governance gathered suggestions to increase diversity as a way to strengthen corporate governance. In particular, banks will be required, most probably through regulatory measures, to implement a strategy on diversifying their governance and be more transparent in terms of decision-making.

    Agnes Bricard, President of the High Council of the French Institute of Chartered Accountants, is working with other women in finance and in academics to address the issue of building the female talent pipeline and provide different organizations with a list of competent women for board levels. Mrs. Bricard recalled that, thirty years ago, the French feminist Elisabeth Badinter spoke about an incompatibility between the quota and the values of the French Republic. However, as without quotas, no progress has been made in comparison to other countries, and in particular Norway, Mrs. Bricard considers that they are necessary today to speed up the process of modernizing the society.

    Best Practices for Better Governance

    The second roundtable discussed best practices of supporting women’s access to leadership positions and was moderated by Nathalie Wright, Public Sector Lead of Microsoft France.

    Dunya Bouhacene, Partner at Women Equity for Growth, brought into discussion women’s challenges to build high-growth enterprises. She noted that while women-led businesses manage to attract 35% less capital than men-led businesses, they are also 12% more profitable. Starting from the fact that 52.6% of French SMES have no women in their management, compared to 24% at global level, Mrs. Bouhacene stressed that the political leaders should pass other regulations to promote the gender mix, and nominate more women in political roles.

    Edward Arkwright, Director of Strategy of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, spoke about the bank’s strategy to retain women and to build the pipeline on a long term basis. In order to define its strategy, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations started from looking at numbers - out of its 1835 management posts, 35% are held by women currently (45% of employees are women), and only two of them are in the executive committee. The current regulatory environment will be only the pretext to find and promote the female talents during the next 10 years, so that positions at the Board level can be occupied by women with the right preparation.

    Pierre Alégoet, high-ranking official at the General Secretariat of the French government (who replaced Jérôme Filippini, Deputy Secretary General of the French Government), spoke about the government’s plan to promote women in the first 500 management positions of the public sector. In coordination with other ministers, the General Secretariat will define a profile common to these management positions and build together the pipeline of competencies. The topic has stirred an intense discussion, as the audience pointing out that some of the measures have been set up in the past, but stirred little progress.

    Eric Boustouller, President of Microsoft France, spoke about diversity as part of Microsoft’s CSR strategy. The company mobilizes managers to create an environment that integrates more women – therefore, every manager has a specific yearly diversity objective that is set up together with his supervisor and not imposed. Mr. Boustouller considers that quotas are important, but they are not enough, as other solutions such as support women’s comeback after maternity leaves, offering coaching opportunities for women to build their career within the company, encouraging promotions for women, need to be thought through.

    During the two roundtables, we touched upon several issues, and came to meaningful conclusions. Diversity can lead to strengthening corporate governance and lawmakers should take action and enhance diversity at Board and executive levels. Gender quotas are a big step towards reaching a more even representation of men and women on high-level positions, however it is only one solution to a more complex issue. The political leaders should pass other regulations to promote the gender mix, and also to nominate more women in political roles.

  • 05 Jul 2011 16:50 | Deleted user

    On 5 July, just before the holidays, the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL) held an exciting biannual meeting, and also its very first general assembly, around the topic of governance. Over 60 high-profile attendees joined us at the Orange Campus in Paris, a newly set up training centre for managers.

    Host of the event, CEO and Chairman of France Télécom Stéphane Richard, engaged in a dialogue on measures taken by his Board to establish a more gender-balanced leadership after the severe socio-economic crisis.

    WIL achievements presented by WIL Vice-president and CEO Lefebvre Software Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro heralded discussions to raise the profile of the network. A roundtable ran by the Director of Amcham France Marina Niforos rallying CEO of Jump Isabella Lenarduzzi, WIL Vice-president and Deputy Group HR, Executive VP France Télécom Brigitte Dumont, CEO of Women Equity Dunya Bouhacene and CEO of Sysdoc Katherine Corich, brainstormed for ways to reach more senior-level women and leverage decision makers.

    Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director Health for Microsoft EMEA and WIL Director, highlighted a novel WIL program, as the network’s next concrete action to advance women in middle management to top leadership position.

    The closing dinner was a solid demonstration of women’s ability to inspire people. Head of the EC Representation in Paris Anne Houtman, together with VP Orange France Delphine Ernotte, Professor at ESSEC Business School Viviane de Beaufort, and WOM Vice-president and Member of the European Parliament Antonyia Parvanova, shared their expertise and reflections to reshape governance in politics, economy or society.

    The Women Talent Pool Program

    Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director Health for Microsoft EMEA and WIL Director, will be coordinating the Women Talent Pool, an innovative WIL program aimed at identifying early on high potential women which so as to give them a voice, connect them with their peers and with senior-level women as their coaches, as well as various learning opportunities offered by partners. The program will kick off on 8 November 2011 at the Global Forum in ICT, Brussels. The concept was well acclaimed, attracting volunteering coaches and raising the interest of other potential partners alongside Microsoft and Orange.

    Defining the network’s directions

    Marina Niforos, Managing Director AmCham France and new WIL Director, moderated a roundtable that examined possible directions for WIL for 2011-2012, by bringing together four members with different backgrounds to highlight key take-outs from their fields.

    Isabella Lenarduzzi, CEO Jump Forum, gave a thorough overview of the legislation recently adopted in various European countries on gender quotas, which served as a starting point for a debate on other broader measures to improve governance.

    Brigitte Dumont, WIL Vice-president and Deputy Group HR, Executive VP France Télécom, outlined her Group’s strategy to improve female representation in technical departments, work/life balance conditions, but also to surge female representation at executive levels from the current 22% to 35% by 2015.

    Katherine Corich, CEO of Sysdoc and newly elected WIL Director, set up her own company after working as a stockbroker and as manager in large organizations. Thanks to the innovative management processes she has put into place enabling employees to work in a flexible manner and gain skills easily, Sysdoc has been chaining awards and recognitions.

    Dunya Bouhacene, CEO of Women Equity, has built an investment program for women-led companies. Although they perform better than men-led companies do, they are weakly integrated into business networks, and thus accessing fewer investments. Women Equity offers women the possibility to grow their business exponentially.

    Closing Dinner on Global Governance

    The closing dinner was a solid demonstration of women’s ability to inspire and pull people towards their vision. Four women frontrunners shared their ideas on enhancing governance in organizations that will shape the future.

    Viviane de Beaufort, Professor at the ESSEC Business School and founder of the “Women, be European Board ready!” program, launched the discussions with a reflection on the European multicultural governance. She raised the awareness on the crisis of European project and deliberated in favor of the development of a competitive European economy based on the principles of fair trade and reciprocity, as a way to gather Europeans around the EU project.

    Delphine Ernotte, Vice-president Orange France, spoke about the spillover effect of the economic and financial crisis. The unexpected social crisis determined by it led to a reshaping of the corporate governance scheme so that stakeholders – company Board, employees, shareholders, unions - improve their collaboration and be more open to listen to each other’s demands in the future.

    Anne Houtman, Head of the European Commission Representation in Paris, shared a vision of an organic structure of global governance. The chain effects of the economic crisis proved that the post WWII system of international organizations lost its legitimacy and efficiency. The world turned its eyes on the European Union model of regional integration, which may bring about an enhanced sense of cooperation between governments.

    Antonyia Parvanova, Member of the European Parliament and WIL Vice-president, brought into discussion the Asian gender-based policy model as a solution for a leadership alleviating crisis effects. Countries such as China, South Korea or Taiwan have many more women in top-level positions than the EU or its Member States.

    WIL General Assembly elections

    Congratulations to our newly elected Board members! They will be joining the other members of the Board for a three-year term, during which we hope to see the network grow in terms of membership and high-quality networking opportunities:

    • Katherine Corich, CEO of Sysdoc;
    • Isabella de Michelis di Slonghello, Vice-president for Public Affairs of Qualcomm;
    • Alison Lazerwitz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Swarovski;
    • Deb Leary, CEO of Forensic Pathways;
    • Marina Niforos, Managing Director of AmCham France;
    • Sonia Trocmé-Le Page, CEO of Global Private Equity.
  • 08 Feb 2011 16:58 | Deleted user

    Financial regulations, the single market and corporate governance were the three pillars of economic growth discussed at a luncheon with WIL Brussels-based members by Sharon Bowles, Chair Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in the European Parliament, and Paulina Dejmek, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier.

    In a convivial setting, Darcy Bradbury, Managing Director of DeShaw&Co., a US hedge fund, and Dunya Bouhacene, founding partner of Women Equity, spoke on behalf of the financial private sector, raising the awareness upon the current issues surrounding the sector.

    An Update on Financial Regulation

    Speakers agreed that regulating the financial sector is not the sole solution to revive economic growth; however, it is an essential tool to stabilize markets and make them more competitive in the long run.

    Sharon Bowles considered that European legislators reacted quickly to the financial crisis. However, she called for a higher interest of EU and EU Member States’ legislators in driving financial regulation forward as it implies a vast volume of technical work and a broad dialogue between actors. Her warning towards the industry was that the legislation will keep on being updated, giving the example of audit, accounting and economic governance packages, even if legislators are aware of the need for a stable regulatory framework.

    Paulina Dejmek mentioned that there are regular contacts between the EU and the responsible US authorities so as to bring into line the ongoing regulatory initiatives regarding financial markets. As to the emerging markets, notably in Asia, a shared effort is needed in order to ensure that the G20 commitments are implemented at a global level and the EU competitiveness safeguarded in the long run.

    Darcy Bradbury illustrated how impulsive reactions cause panic in a financial market with unfixed boundaries. For example US investors stopped trading for some periods of time during the financial crisis waiting for clarification of the legal framework. The resulting panic shows the need for clear regulation which must involve input from all stakeholders, yet without falling into a spontaneous turmoil raised in the media.

    In addition, Dunya Bouhacene stated that policy makers should support the development of socially responsible investment funds, which contribute to economic growth in a sustainable way. This should be promoted through the systematic integration of SRI criteria in the asset allocations of public institutions, which are highly aware of the impact of extra financial performance criteria in the context of long term investments.

    The Single Market can Save the Economy

    While threats are still hovering over the economy, particularly because of macroeconomic instability, strengthening the single market may help remove them.

    Sharon Bowles warned that the single market should play a particularly important role in the economic governance law package, as the costs implied by the regulation of financial institutions will eat into economic growth by 0.5 to 1%. Also, stakeholders may take even more risks if the principles of the single market are not seriously treated.

    In response, Darcy Bradbury stressed that hedge funds would rather act within a well regulated financial market, which implies costlier operations, than within an unstable market.

    Paulina Dejmek stressed the fact that in October 2010 the Commission had launched the Single Market Act (the SMA), containing 50 different proposals to unlock the remaining potential of the internal market. The SMA is under public debate until March 2011.

    Corporate Governance and the Way Ahead

    Participants were particularly interested in knowing more about the way speakers perceived the role of corporate governance in the downturn.

    In a discussion around the banking bonus system, Paulina Dejmek agreed that even if the European directive capping bankers’ bonuses entered into force on 1st January 2011, it is still the responsibility of financial institutions to set up a fair-minded reward system, which is based on a long-term strategy of capital allocation.

    Sharon Bowles shared the same view, insisting that the responsibility for ensuring a fair system lied in the hands of both financial institutions and policy makers. As a solution, she promoted the idea of a more flexible and diverse working environment, which ensures that talented people move easier across departments and that women have the same opportunities as men. This approach might have more positive effects in the future than a regulatory framework.

    From a slightly different angle, Dunya Bouhacene spoke about the fact that the finance world could positively contribute to enhancing women’s position in the economy. In spite of a consistent documentation of their outperformance factors, the women-led companies have been so far overlooked by the financial markets. This has resulted in a situation where investing in women-led companies has become a highly attractive opportunity for investors, with less competition and attractive valuation. In addition, the promotion of these companies and their management led to the emergence of new role models benefitting the entire society.

    Overall, this exchange between financial stakeholders and specialists from other sectors helped broaden the single-angled and critical view upon the finance world. The sector will still hold a major role in the economic recovery, although discussions around improving its regulations and diversifying its leadership are yet in progress.


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