All different but all leaders!

Written on 09 April 2013.

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Drawing on recent research, she stressed three original ideas: 1) changing the image of the glass ceiling for that of a labyrinth, 2) the urgent need to change the means of hiring
senior managers, now distorted by images of leadership not favourable to women
and 3) the importance of changing an overly ‘gendered’ notion of leadership
that is harmful to the diversity required to succeed.
Jean-Michel Monnot, vice-president for diversity at Sodexo, explained that diversity is a strategic priority and a means of leveraging the company’s economic performance. Women account for between 28 and 30 percent of those in management roles at Sodexo.
But gender parity is not the be-all and end-all. Also important is making everyone feel like an integral part of the company, something Sodexo has done so well that it is looked to by other companies seeking to promote diversity.

The evening went on with a speech contest won by Ananya Dixit, whose speech dealt with leaders from emerging countries. Ananya showed that it is not necessary to be either a man or a native of a ‘developed’ country to be a world leader.

The evening came to a close with a roundtable on woman and corporate management. Sophie Clamens (Sodexo), Véronique Laury (Castorama) and Anne Zuccarelli (EDHEC) were interviewed by Johann Basby and Anany Dixit. The invited managers stressed the importance of having a vision and passing it on, of being assertive, of knowing how to explain your decisions, how to listen, and how not to get a big head. They also brought up the obstacles they have had to overcome. Among the tips they offered: be yourself, know how to assert yourself, get coaching if you need it and dare to be different. ‘It was a delight,’ said Anne Zuccarelli, ‘to talk with all of
the MSc students about our leadership experiences. Such things as having a vision, setting examples and showing courage were illustrated again and again over the course of the evening. As a woman, each speaker was candid about the “rough patches” she went through, as well as about her determination to make women’s roles in business more important. More broadly, the conference showed that diversity can be a competitive advantage.’


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