Women's Forum 2012, Deauville: Observations From Day 2

Commissioner Viviane RedingThis week marks the 7th edition of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in Deauville, France.  While many of the topics discussed are the same as previous years, here’s what’s glaringly different about this year’s forum: there are loads of research reports floating around.

Clearly, companies have heard the call for more gender diversity and the benefits it could bring to their bottom-line (and let’s admit, talking bottom-line ensures the issue receives attention). McKinsey delivers the “Women Matter” report – for the sixth year running, The Boston Consulting Group jumps on board and debuts a report on shattering the glass ceiling – “an analytical approach” and diversity consultancy Diverseo (www.diverseo.com) delivers “The unconscious sealing – Women in leadership” report. Even the European Commission saw fit to focus on the statistics, with their “Women in economic decision-making progress report”. The numbers have been crunched, the business case defended. 

A second notable focus at the forum is the heightened interest in understanding Gen-Y and its impact on the labour market.

Books, reports, plenary sessions and workshops abound. It is clear that leading companies have faced the fact that this generation is fundamentally changing the way in which we work. And as the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, it has the clout of numbers to make us sit up and take note. 

Never known to be a generation of wallflowers, Gen-Y is making sure their wishes are heard. The titles in the reports presented shown here don’t lie: “Are Gen-Y unsuitable for companies, are companies unsuitable for Gen-Y?”, “Gen-Y women: what employers need to learn and unlearn”  and “HR: ready for Gen-Y expectations?”. 

Clearly, while the struggle for representation in the European boardroom remains - Commissioner Reding’s report highlights a mere 2% increase in representation of women in the boardroom between 2010 and 2012 – Gen-Y is slowly but surely changing the rules of the game and the adults, for once, are listening. 

Commissioner Reding’s message was clear:

“By failing to encourage and enable women to make full use of their professional skills – whether Gen-Y or beyond – we are wasting valuable talent in times of crisis. We simply cannot afford that.”

Diversity consultant and Brussels-based journalist Sabine Clappaert is dedicated to covering human rights issues and development as they intersect with women inside and outside Europe. Clappaert has published work in De Morgen and Flanders Today (Belgium), Pink Ribbon magazine, The Bulletin, IPS News (UK/International) and Destiny Magazine (South Africa). 

Image courtesy of The Women's Forum. 

Sign Up to our Newsletter

So you enjoy The NextWomen. Why not sign up to our monthly newsletter?
You get a Letter from the CEO :-), the chance to catch up with the best of our recent articles - and some extra things we throw in once in a while.

We try hard for smart reading.