On 25 March 2014, the FBCCI held its annual conference to acknowledge International Women’s Day, hosted at the grand residence of the British Ambassador. The event entailed a discussion between an influential panel on the position of women in businesses today, and the challenges that they face in the future. The debate was moderated by the Paris Bureau Chief of The Economist, Sophie Pedder, who did an admirable job of maintaining a fluid discussion between the three speakers, posing her own questions as well as incorporating several queries from the audience to conclude. Tanuja Randery, President Strategy, Marketing and Transformation at BT Global Services, Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro, President of Talentia Software and Cristina Lunghi, President at Arborus, made up the qualified panel, combining years of experience from a range of sectors, environments and countries.
The still astoundingly low number of influential women in businesses sparked the need to question how and why this is the case. The discussion started with the question of whether it is women themselves, or the nature of the workplace, that is holding them back. During the next hour, further key subjects were explored, including the importance of encouraging “sponsors” both at work and at home, the subject of stay at home dads, the development of society’s opinions towards women in the workplace, and how to practically provide a brighter future for today’s teenagers. Furthermore, the panel emphasised the importance of ambition and self-confidence in order to achieve a successful career, as well as the pros and cons of women’s influence in business. With a mixture of faith in the future, call for change, and sincere support, the discussion really looked at the step from middle to senior management, and breaking the “glass ceiling”, whether in a small or large, private or public sector business. Without the time limit, there would have been time to explore some more personal experiences and anecdotes from the speakers, as well as the virtually untouched subject of how women are presented in the media and generally viewed in modern society, and the effect of this on the business world.
Champagne and nibbles were served afterwards, allowing for further discussion and giving the chance to meet the interesting range of guests. It was a smooth, fluid event in an outstanding location, centred on a crucial topic led by an inspirational selection of women.