ICC and Professional Women’s Network join forces to discuss gender communications

  • 23 October 2014
ICC Diversity

World Business Women, an initiative driven by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) staff, and the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) joined forces recently to consider the leadership of tomorrow and the role of gender communication.

Open to ICC staff and PWN members, the dynamic event, held at ICC global headquarters in Paris on 10 October, was led by guest speakers Robert Baker, Senior Partner and Global Client Manager at Mercer (UK) and Vice-President of the PWN Global Federation Board, and Marie-Christine Maheas, an executive in the Travel industry (France) and a writer who is also the former President of PWN Paris.

Focusing on gender communications, participants learned how diversity in leadership is a prerequisite for organizations to keep pace in an increasingly globalized world.

“Globalization, growth in the way we use the Internet and other social changes are changing the way we do business so leadership styles need to change too,” Mr Baker said. “Women make a major difference in companies and have a major impact in companies when represented on the board.”

While at the same time cautioning against the use of stereotypes, Mr Baker told participants:  “Leadership is changing from task-oriented to relationship-based, a style which lends itself to the attributes of a lot of women.”

“Women are still under-represented at the top,” Ms Maheas told the gathering but stressed the importance of engaging men to support the advancement of women. “If men are not engaged it is useless to come together at events like this one,” she said, pointing out that if men are not engaged, corporate programmes also risked having a negative effect.

Ms Maheas said that if the focus is on women only, they can start to be seen as the problem. “We all think that if there is a corporate programme, things will get better. But they can actually get worse depending on the programme you are implementing,” she warned. “Corporate programmes should address everybody and train everybody.”

Ms Maheas said that the key to success was to engage men by providing the basics about the benefits of diversity and by demonstrating what men stand to gain professionally and personally from it.

Mr Baker pointed to the mentoring of men by women as a particularly powerful way for men to gain insight into some of the areas they might not think about.

The luncheon event included interactive working sessions to address what businesses could do to enhance gender communication and what could be done to engage more men in gender diversity. The high turnout of men among the 80 session participants, were asked to consider what they could also do to engage more men.

The event concluded with participants committing to undertake one action to enhance gender communication or to engage men.

Learn more about World Business Women.