Let's renew our advocacy for gender equality #WFGM17


By Barbara Leveel

Global Head of Diversity and HR CSR chez BNP Paribas

Women’s Forum is always a great opportunity to step back and reflect on what is being done today for gender equality in business. As a woman, I feel naturally involved and concerned by the gender equality journey in our society. As a Global Head of Diversity within BNP Paribas, I am proud, in my daily life, to improve gender equality across my company and measure the significant impact of the actions that have been launched over a decade.

Measure the significant impact of the actions that have been launched over a decade.

More widely in France, we also have some tools to measure nation-wide results. Within a couple of weeks the MEDEF, the French employers’ organization, will publish the results of its 2017 National Barometer (powered by Kantar TNS) which has been developed 6 years ago to measure the climate of equal opportunities within the business community. This survey addresses a representative panel of French employees and gives the opportunity on one hand to measure the employees’ perception about their corporate inclusion policies  and on the other hand to evaluate how they rate real life situations of equal opportunities within their companies.

As Vice-President of the Equal Opportunities Committee of the MEDEF, I want to share with the Women’s Forum community a preview of the 2017 results that best describe women’s perception in France.  

  • Following a noticeable increase over the past three years, the confidence of women in their own future within their company culminates for the first time to the level of men’s (72%).
  • Similarly, when questioned about their fear to be discriminated someday within their company, women’s responses have also decreased by 8%.
  • Drilling down into the reasons why women would feel afraid to be discriminated someday, respondents point gender, lifestyle choices and family situations far less than along the past 5 surveys: aging is today the number one reason.
  • When evaluated by all respondents among 10 personal situations in their companies, being a mother of young children did not appear to them as a big hurdle for women’s careers.
  • Lastly, sexism in the business environment appears to be tackled more firmly across companies.

I believe that we have to celebrate this positive evolution of mindsets and observed behaviors in France; my best guess is that we should probably expect this type of trend in all the countries that are implementing strong gender equality policies and company-wide action plans.

Redesign our journey towards gender equality

What this annual survey tells us over a period of 6 years is that inclusion policies and actions matter and have measurable impact. Nevertheless, to be honest, the evolution seems to me very slow when observing women representation and visibility at the top of the business organizations, salary gap is still too wide in many sectors and territories, and above all we observe a persistently unbalanced mix in professions (women typically in HR, Communication or CSR and men holding front roles in IT, Cybersecurity and Business). These mixed findings invite us to redesign our journey towards gender equality and pursue more widely our commitment to engage forcefully and sincerely as a citizen, as a member of a family, as an employee in a company, as a manager, as a human being… ‘Daring to lead in a disrupted world! Engaged for impact’ #WFGM17