International Women’s Day Conference (in association with Barclays and Unilever) – 9 March 2017

“Is it Still a Man’s World?”

“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, boys and girls. It is everyone’s responsibility” – Ban Ki-moon

This year’s International Women’s Day conference held on March 9 at the grand residence of the British Ambassador centered on the pivotal question: Is it still a man’s world?

An esteemed panel composed of Nicola Fontaine, Agnès Touraine, and Cecile Bernheim*, all very accomplished women, took to the stage to debate and present their stance on the question.

This trio of women who have risen to the top in their respective careers, proved to be the ideal panel to give an insightful view into what it means to be successful in a “Man’s World”. The evening was full of lively debate and the audience were quick to contribute with their thoughts, feelings and experiences on the topic. The moderator, James Palmer, Director of NewCap and co-Founder of Orpéhon Finance, set the engaging tone for the evening, and skilfully brought a touch of light humour to proceedings.

Drawing on our panel’s combined experience, James asked about the progress France has made in recent years, and led the speakers to describe any change they have seen in the last decade. The gender pay gap was called “inacceptable” by Agnès Touraine and the panel discussed whose responsibility it was to close it; the EU and individual governments?, Or does the responsibility lie with the companies themselves? No matter, it was agreed by all that more needs to be done to ensure a level playing field for all employees. This moved the discussion onto the structure of businesses and how they could evolve to be more accommodating to parents that balance both family life and working.

Thought-provoking and intelligent conversation dominated the evening; around the room, our audience were enthusiastic about the conference and the themes of what men in business can do to promote equality, and how to encourage our younger girls to be more confident in themselves and to be ambitious were strongly echoed over the drinks and canapés.

It was a successful evening and the Chamber was delighted to organise the event in association with sponsors Unilever, Barclays and in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT). We extend our thanks to the British Embassy for providing such a grand setting for the important event, and to our sponsors for all their support. Finally, we thank our guests who brought the evening to life – we look forward to seeing you next year.

  • Madame Fontaine is currently a lawyer at the Barreau des Hauts-de-Seine, former President of the European Parliament, former Minister, and honorary Professor at ESCP Europe.
  • Madame Touraine is the President of the French Institute of Directors’ and founding CEO of Act III Consultants
  • Madame Bernheim is President and founder of S2E Partners, and co-President of PWN (Paris Women’s Network) Paris.

Twitter: #FrancoBritishWomen